Sixteen Modern American Authors: A Survey of Research and Criticism since 1972

Sixteen Modern American Authors: A Survey of Research and Criticism since 1972

by Jackson R. Bryer

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Praise for the earlier edition:
“Students of modern American literature have for some years turned to Fifteen Modern American Authors (1969) as an indispensable guide to significant scholarship and criticism about twentieth-century American writers. In its new form—Sixteenth Modern American Authors—it will continue to


Praise for the earlier edition:
“Students of modern American literature have for some years turned to Fifteen Modern American Authors (1969) as an indispensable guide to significant scholarship and criticism about twentieth-century American writers. In its new form—Sixteenth Modern American Authors—it will continue to be indispensable. If it is not a desk-book for all Americanists, it is a book to be kept in the forefront of the bibliographical compartment of their brains.”—American Studies

Editorial Reviews

In the sixteen years following the previous edition, scholarship and criticism on modern American writers continued unabated. Each contributor has prepared a new essay, updating the version in the 1973 edition and incorporating material inadvertently omitted earlier. An essential reference. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

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Second Edition

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Sixteen Modern American Authors

Volume 2: A Survey of Research and Criticism Since 1972

By Jackson R. Bryer

Duke University Press

Copyright © 1989 Duke University Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8223-9957-5


Sherwood Anderson

Walter B. Rideout


By far the most important bibliographical work published during the last dozen or so years is Ray Lewis White's Sherwood Anderson: A Reference Guide (Boston, 1977). This volume's 2,550 entries, all references to writings about Anderson, not by him, are arranged by year from 1916 through 1975. Within each year are listed items such as books, pamphlets, dissertations, newspaper items, reviews, and articles. Entries are from many foreign-language as well as English publications. Each item is briefly summarized, cross-references are supplied for reprintings and translations, and there is a full index. This volume, which exhibits an extraordinarily high degree of inclusiveness and accuracy, is indispensable for every Anderson scholar and often helpful for the general reader. The Guide supersedes White's "Checklist of Sherwood Anderson Studies, 1959–1969" (NLB, July 1971) and his three succeeding checklists covering 1970 to 1975 in the Winesburg Eagle (Nov. 1975, Apr. 1976, Nov. 1976), except that these four lists also itemize editions and reprints of works by Anderson. White's Guide and checklists are now supplemented by annual listings from 1976 to, at present, 1985, scrupulously prepared by Diana Haskell of the Newberry Library and published in each April issue of the Winesburg Eagle beginning with 1978.

Less inclusive but useful bibliographies of publications by or about Anderson are Douglas G. Rogers's Sherwood Anderson: A Selective, Annotated Bibliography (Metuchen, N.J., 1976), which features summaries, often extended, of each of 256 books and articles about him, and David D. Anderson's "Sherwood Anderson (1876–1941)," in A Bibliographical Guide to Midwestern Literature (ed. Gerald Nemanic, Iowa City, 1981). James B. Meriwether's "Sherwood Anderson," in First Printings of American Authors: Contributions Toward Descriptive Checklists (ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli, Detroit, 1978), is of special interest for reproducing the title pages of twelve of Anderson's books, including several English editions. The twenty-four books by Anderson and thirty books about him "currently available" in 1977 are listed by Douglas G. Rogers and Ray Lewis White in "Sherwood Anderson in Print" (WE, Apr. 1977).

Minor additions to Eugene P. Sheehy and Kenneth A. Lohf's basic Sherwood Anderson: A Bibliography (1960) are noted by Richard Colles Johnson in "Addenda to Sheehy and Lohf's Bibliography of Sherwood Anderson" (PBSA, First Quarter 1972) and by Johnson and G. Thomas Tanselle in "Addenda to Bibliographies of Sherwood Anderson [et al.]" (PBSA, First Quarter 1972). More significant is Tanselle's "Addenda to Sheehy and Lohf's Sherwood Anderson: Copyright Information and Later Printings," in Sherwood Anderson: Centennial Studies (ed. Hilbert H. Campbell and Charles E. Modlin, Troy, N.Y., 1976; hereinafter referred to as Campbell and Modlin), which from copyright records provides "the official publication date of each book (by law the copyright date)" and "the dates of some of the later printings of the books," and for the first time confirms that Anderson did publish a pamphlet entitled An Idea to Establish a Commercial Democracy in Elyria, Ohio, on 22 October 1909, although no copies have as yet been found. Ray Lewis White's "Sherwood Anderson: Fugitive Pamphlets and Broadsides, 1918–1940" (SB, 1978) gives detailed bibliographic citations for seventeen items "too fugitive or ephemeral to have been noted or described" by Sheehy and Lohf; and in "Anderson in Chicago Newspapers: A Supplementary List" (WE, Nov. 1977), White and Diana Haskell list ninety-seven previously uncited entries concerning the author from 1916 through 1969.

Of Anderson's books, Winesburg, Ohio has received by far the most bibliographic attention. In his "Winesburg Revisited" (Serif, Sept. 1970), Josiah Q. Bennett confirms most of William L. Phillips's original distinctions between the first and second impressions of that book; and in "The Editions of Winesburg, Ohio" (Campbell and Modlin), Phillips confidently identifies the "points which characterize the first impression ...: orange or yellow cloth; top edge stained orange-yellow or yellow; a perfect title page frame; extraneous 'of' p. 4, second line from the bottom; 'lay,' p. 86, 1. 5; perfect type in 'his,' p. 196, 1. 9; and perfect type in 'cutting,' p. 260, 1. 9." Ray Lewis White has contributed four more notes on the book in "Winesburg, Ohio: First-Impression Errors" (PBSA, Second Quarter 1977), listing sixteen "misprints or authorial errors"; "Winesburg in Translation: Ohio in the World" (OQ, Summer 1976), giving "a chronological bibliography of the 40 editions in 23 non-English languages from 1924 through 1970"; "Winesburg in 1919: The Publisher's Catalog Copy" (WE, Apr. 1978), reprinting two pieces, probably by Huebsch, praising the book in the publisher's mimeographed circular, "Notes from B. W. Huebsch"; and "Winesburg, Ohio: The Story Titles" (WE, Nov. 1984), providing "a chart that shows the progression or development of the Winesburg titles from (1) the earliest extant manuscript, to (2) the revised manuscript readings, to (3) the periodical titles for the ten stories so published, to (4) the stories on a draft table of contents, to (5) the final titles as published in Anderson's book in May of 1919." Finally, in "The Achievement of Sherwood Anderson" (NLB, July 1971), Richard Colles Johnson provides a descriptive list of 134 items in an Anderson exhibit at the Newberry Library honoring the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Winesburg and the presentation of the manuscript of it to the Library's Anderson Collection by the Newberry Library Associates.

The definitive article on the unpublished manuscript of another book is "Mary Cochran: Sherwood Anderson's Ten-Year Novel" (SB, 1978), in which William S. Pfeiffer cogently argues that Anderson "began Mary Cochran between 1909 and 1912 in Ohio, continued work on it during the teens in Chicago, and stopped working on the novel" by 1921. As for the publishers of his completed works, information about Benjamin W. Huebsch is supplied by Ann Catherine McCullough in her unpublished dissertation, "A History of B. W. Huebsch, Publisher" (Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, 1979), chapter four of which is a full description of "Publishing Sherwood Anderson" based on the Huebsch Papers at the Library of Congress; and relevant information about Horace Liveright of Boni & Liveright is contained in Walker Gilmer's Horace Liveright: Publisher of the Twenties (New York, 1970), especially the well-researched chapter, "Sherwood Anderson." In "Sherwood Anderson and the Viking Press, 1925–1941" (RALS, Autumn 1980), Hilbert H. Campbell traces the steady decline in sales of the six Anderson books originally published by Huebsch after 1925, when Anderson went to Liveright and Huebsch merged with Viking.

Another kind of aid to Anderson scholarship is Campbell and Modlin's "A Catalog of Sherwood Anderson's Library" (Campbell and Modlin), which itemizes the 837 books Anderson left "at Ripshin Farm, Troutdale, Virginia, or at Rosemont, his wife Eleanor's home in Marion, Virginia, at the time of his death in 1941." Two pieces of more tangential interest are Campbell's "The Washington County Forum: A Minor Anderson Connection" (WE, Apr. 1978), which notes his identification as "Associate Editor" of an Abingdon, Virginia, weekly newspaper published in 1935 by his son Robert and the reprinting in that paper of certain of his "What Say!" columns; and "'Implications of Obscenity': The English Trial of Many Marriages" (JML, Mar. 1983), in which prolific Anderson scholar Ray Lewis White quotes the English review of that novel which resulted in the court trial of the editor of the Sporting Times for publishing obscenity and his sentence to four months in prison.

A particularly helpful article on a foreign country's reception of Anderson's work is MarySue Schriber's "Sherwood Anderson in France: 1919–1939" (TCL, Feb. 1977), which states that during these years "French periodicals carried some thirty-five notices of Anderson and his work, most of them short reviews but a few of them of greater length, and chapters of three French studies of American literature were devoted to Anderson." French critics and reviewers tended to praise his language but to find his narratives disorderly; to praise, with some reservation, his psychological penetration and his revolt against an American civilization marked by materialism and puritanism; to see him as the preserver of earlier spiritual values in his country. Schriber's model article concludes with "A Checklist of French Commentary on Sherwood Anderson: 1919–1939."

Despite this considerable bibliographic activity, a different kind of trial and a much longer sentence in time than that of the unlucky English editor still await the person or persons dedicated enough to compile the "complete and accurate descriptive bibliography" noted in the original publication of Fifteen Modern American Authors as still "among the desiderata of Anderson scholarship."


The outstanding event in this area of Anderson scholarship has been the appearance in 1982 of the Rinsen Edition of The Complete Works of Sherwood Anderson under the editorship of Kichinosuke Ohashi, Professor of American Literature at Keio University in Tokyo and one of Japan's leading authorities on twentieth-century American literature. That the first uniform edition of all the writings of Anderson published in book form has been issued by the Rinsen Book Company of Kyoto, Japan, instead of by an American firm should be the occasion of some national embarrassment to us, but it is the occasion much more of gratitude that such an edition, complete in twenty-one handsome volumes, is now in print. The arrangement of the individual volumes in the set is by genre and within the genre by year of publication; so, for example, the eight novels, including the hybrid Winesburg, comprise volumes 1 through 8, followed by the volumes of short stories, volume 11 containing the brief Alice and The Lost Novel and Death in the Woods. Included in series thereafter are the semi-autobiographical books, the nonfiction volumes, the poems and plays together, and finally the Memoirs and The Sherwood Anderson Reader. Volume 21 is an appendix containing many photographs of and documents about "Clyde as Winesburg," twenty stories by Anderson previously published in magazines and anthologies but now collected for the first time, and an index of titles.

Faced with the present unsatisfactory textual situation of Anderson's works, Ohashi sensibly decided to use for his texts "photocopied reproductions of first editions, first printings, or limited editions." Although "typographical blurs and broken types" have been emended, the unrevised "lay" on p. 86, 1. 5 of Winesburg, by which Phillips originally identified the first impression, therefore remains. One notes, however, that the first impression's extraneous "of" on p. 4 has been silently corrected. But these are hardly serious matters, and Ohashi settles a more serious one by printing both the original ending of Windy McPherson's Son in the 1916 John Lane edition and the revised ending of the 1922 Huebsch one. An added benefit is that following a uniform title page for each work is a reproduction of the original title page. With typical Japanese taste Rinsen has also reproduced certain first edition design elements such as the map of Winesburg and the pale blue covers of Alice and The Lost Novel. Both Ohashi and Rinsen deserve highest praise for their accomplishment.

Although one might wish that Ohashi had incorporated into several of his texts the few corrections made by Anderson or by editors subsequent to first impressions, that he did make a sensible decision as to texts is clearly demonstrated by G. Thomas Tanselle's "The Case Western Reserve Edition of Sherwood Anderson: A Review Article" in Proof (1975). Here Tanselle examines carefully and at length the editorial plan and its execution in the three volumes of the edition of the oddly titled The Major Fiction of Sherwood Anderson, edited by Ray Lewis White: A Story Teller's Story (1968), Tar: A Midwest Childhood (1969), and Marching Men (1972). Tanselle finds that the plan "leaves much to be desired, and the execution of that plan is both inconsistent and inaccurate." He concludes that these three volumes "stand in greater need of editing now than they did before Mr. White embarked on his task" and that "Meanwhile, Anderson scholars face an awkward situation and will have to decide whether the better course at present may not be to make their quotations from the original editions." More recently, Hilbert H. Campbell, in "The Perils of False Assumptions: Editing Sherwood Anderson's Tar" (PBSA, Third Quarter 1981), has confirmed that "the original BL [Boni & Liveright] text of Tar, whatever its shortcomings, is far better than the CWR [Press of Case Western Reserve] 'critical text' edition," partly because of the "somewhat confusing and inconsistent principles employed in editing the CWR text," but mainly because "an extensively revised typescript of Tar," obtained by the Newberry Library in 1981, "proves to be surprisingly close to the BL text." This typescript shows, for example, that in most cases material "restored" by White to the CWR text as being intended by Anderson had in fact been deleted by him before a final setting copy went to the publisher.

Given the evidence produced by Tanselle and Campbell, it is fortunate that White has dropped his project for a series of "critical editions," but the large task of re-editing Anderson's work in accordance with the guidelines established by the Center for Scholarly Editions needs to be undertaken. Douglas G. Rogers takes a step in that direction in his critical edition of Many Marriages (Metuchen, N.J., 1978). Rogers reproduces the text of the novel's first edition—but, without explanation, the text of the third impression rather than of the first—and provides twenty-five pages of textual notes listing variants among the texts of the published book (1923), that of the shorter version serialized in the Dial from October 1922 through March 1923, and those of the setting copies of the book and of the serial version. Most encouraging among editing ventures at present is William V. Miller's continued progress on a complete (excluding Winesburg) authoritative edition of Anderson's seventy-eight collected and uncollected short stories following Center for Scholarly Editions guidelines.

Two pieces from Anderson books have been edited by Ray Lewis White in "Winesburg, Ohio: The Unique Alternate Draft of 'Nobody Knows'" (WE, Nov. 1982) and by Charles E. Modlin in "'In a Field': A Story from A Story Teller's Story" (WE, Apr. 1983). The former prints "the only extant alternate draft of any Winesburg story," a manuscript version of "Nobody Knows," which differs only in minor points from the printed version; the latter reproduces a typescript made from Anderson's penciled revisions of the tale concluding book 3 of A Story Teller's Story, given the title "In a Field," sent to his literary agent in January 1940 but not published. In "'Death in the Woods': Anderson's Earliest Version" (WE, Apr. 1982), Ray Lewis White prints excerpts, connected by summary, from "an almost complete narrative of a death in the woods," probably typed by Anderson around 1916. The narrative is on the backs of pages of the Winesburg, Ohio manuscript in the Newberry Library. As White suggests, it is essential that the material on the backs of these manuscript pages be fully catalogued and analyzed.


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