- The life of reality is confused, disorderly, almost always without apparent purpose, whereas in the artist's imaginative life there is purpose. There is determination to give the tale, the song, the painting, form — to make it true and real to the theme, not to life. Often the better the job is done, the greater the confusion. I myself remember with what a shock I heard people say that one of my own books Winesburg, Ohio was an exact picture of Ohio village life. The book was written in a crowded tenement district of Chicago.The hint for almost every character was taken from my fellow-lodgers in a large rooming house, many of whom had never lived in a village. The confusion arises out of the fact that others besides practicing artists have imaginations. But most people are afraid to trust their imaginations and the artist is not.
Would it not be better to have it understood that realism, in so far as the word means reality to life, is always bad art — although it may possibly be very good journalism? Which is but another way of saying that all of the so-called great realists were not realists at all and never intended being. Madame Bovary did not exist in fact. She existed in the imaginative life of Flaubert and he managed to make her exist also in the imaginative life of his readers.
- "A Note on Realism" in The Literary Review (25 October 1924)
- We have not approached the time when we may speak to each other, but in the mornings sometimes I have heard, echoing far off, the sound of a trumpet. It is apparent that nations cannot exist for us. They are the playthings of children, such toys as children break from boredom and weariness. The branch of a tree is my country. My freedom sleeps in a mulberry bush. My country is in the shivering legs of a little lost dog.
- A New Testament (1927)
Winesburg, Ohio (1919) edit
- In the beginning when the world was young there were a great many thoughts but no such thing as truth. Man made the truths himself and each truth was a composite of a great many vague thoughts. All about in the world were truths and they were all beautiful.
- "The Book of the Grotesque"
- On the trees are only a few gnarled apples that the pickers have rejected. They look like the knuckles of Doctor Reefy's hands. One nibbles at them and they are delicious. Into a little round place at the side of the apple has been gathered all of its sweetness. One runs from tree to tree over the frosted ground picking the gnarled, twisted apples and filling his pockets with them. Only the few know the sweetness of the twisted apples.
- "Paper Pills"
- Everyone in the world is Christ and they are all crucified.
- "The Philosopher"
- "You will have to know life," she declared, and her voice trembled with earnestness. She took hold of George Willard’s shoulders and turned him about so that she could look into his eyes. A passer-by might have thought them about to embrace. "If you are to become a writer you’ll have to stop fooling with words," she explained. "It would be better to give up the notion of writing until you are better prepared. Now it’s time to be living. I don’t want to frighten you, but I would like to make you understand the import of what you think of attempting. You must not become a mere peddler of words. The thing to learn is to know what people are thinking about, not what they say."
- "The Teacher"
- "Love is like a wind stirring the grass beneath trees on a black night," he had said. "You must not try to be definite and sure about it and to live beneath the trees, where soft night winds blow, the long hot day of disappointment comes swiftly and the gritty dust from passing wagons gathers upon lips inflamed and made tender by kisses."
- The young man's mind was carried away by his growing passion for dreams. One looking at him would not have thought him particularly sharp. With the recollection of little things occupying his mind he closed his eyes and leaned back in the car seat. He stayed that way for a long time and when he aroused himself and again looked out of the car window the town of Winesburg had disappeared and his life there had become but a background on which to paint the dreams of his manhood.
The Triumph of the Egg and Other Stories (1921) edit
- We got up at four in the morning, that first day in the east. On the evening before we had climbed off a freight train at the edge of town, and with the true instinct of Kentucky boys had found our way across town and to the race track and the stables at once. Then we knew we were all right.
- "I Want to Know Why"
Memoirs (1942) edit
- Sometimes I think we Americans are the loneliest people in the world. To be sure, we hunger for the power of affection, the self-acceptance that gives life. It is the oldest and strongest hunger in the world. But hungering is not enough.
- p. 6
Quotes about Anderson edit
- Writers in the twenties reacted not only to the shock of the First World War but to the values held dear in the nineteenth century. The stock responses of good will and progressive enlightenment as an explanation of human behavior had failed Dreiser and Sherwood Anderson even before the First World War. The new attitudes were expressed not only in the realm of ideas but were implicit in the texture of the work, its language, its style, even in what came to be tagged "lack of style."
- Josephine Herbst "The Ruins of Memory" (April 4, 1956) in The Nation
- Works by Sherwood Anderson at Project Gutenberg
- Works by Sherwood Anderson at Project Gutenberg Australia
- Sherwood Anderson Biography
- Sherwood Anderson Biography 2
- Sherwood Anderson in the Dial
- Anderson and The Dial environment 1922
- Sherwood Anderson Links
- Winesburg, Ohio hypertext from American Studies at the University of Virginia.
- The Triumph of the Egg hypertext from American Studies at the University of Virginia.
- Winesburg, Ohio at American Literature
- Sherwood Anderson Short Stories
- Oral History Interview with Eleanor Copenhaver Anderson from Oral Histories of the American South