Chicago Renaissance: Literature and Art in the Midwest Metropolis

Chicago Renaissance: Literature and Art in the Midwest Metropolis

by Liesl Olson


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A fascinating history of Chicago’s innovative and invaluable contributions to American literature and art from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century

This remarkable cultural history celebrates the great Midwestern city of Chicago for its centrality to the modernist movement. Author Liesl Olson traces Chicago’s cultural development from the 1893 World’s Fair through mid-century, illuminating how Chicago writers revolutionized literary forms during the first half of the twentieth century, a period of sweeping aesthetic transformations all over the world. From Harriet Monroe, Carl Sandburg, and Ernest Hemingway to Richard Wright and Gwendolyn Brooks, Olson’s enthralling study bridges the gap between two distinct and equally vital Chicago-based artistic “renaissance” moments: the primarily white renaissance of the early teens, and the creative ferment of Bronzeville. Stories of the famous and iconoclastic are interwoven with accounts of lesser-known yet influential figures in Chicago, many of whom were women. Olson argues for the importance of Chicago’s editors, bookstore owners, tastemakers, and ordinary citizens who helped nurture Chicago’s unique culture of artistic experimentation.

Cover art by Lincoln Schatz

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300203684
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 08/22/2017
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 1,168,663
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Liesl Olson is director of Chicago studies at the Newberry Library. She is the author of Modernism and the Ordinary and many essays about twentieth‑century writers and artists.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Preface xv

Introduction 1

Interlude: Chicago, October 21, 1892 43

Chapter 1 Porkpackers And Poetry 49

From Chicago to Chicago 49

La belle jasminatrice 55

In a Station of the Metro 65

A Brave Little Song 72

Porkpackers 79

Interlude: Ohio and Chicago, 1912 91

Chapter 2 Stink of Chicago 95

Sherwood Anderson at the Armory Show 95

French and the Arthurs 102

Bliss 114

Peoria and Paris 122

Little Children of the Arts 136

Interlude: Paris, May-June 1929 145

Chapter 3 Hemingway's Readers 149

Good Ladies 149

Naughty People 159

Chicago Style 165

The Sun Also Rises 172

Lady Midwest 178

Interlude: Chicago, November 7, 1994 189

Chapter 4 Stein Comes to Chicago 193

La Stein 193

Wives 198

Understanding and Enjoying 207

City of Words 212

Greatness 219

Mortimer and Maude 224

Interlude: Chicago, Fall 1941 229

Chapter 5 White City, Black Metropolis 235

A Voice Like Hers 235

Without Finger Bowls 241

Open and Raw 255

I Found It Fun 266

Fair Fables 280

Conclusion 285

Appendix: Makers of Modernism 293

Notes 297

Selected Bibliography 335

Acknowledgments 351

Index 353

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