Magazine July 31, 2017, Issue

Restoration of the Village

( Del Henderson Jr./Getty Images)
From Warm Center to Ragged Edge: The Erosion of Midwestern Literary and Historical Regionalism, 1920–1965, by Jon K. Lauck (Iowa, 266 pp., $27.50)

When Sherwood Anderson published Winesburg, Ohio in 1919, critics recognized it as one of the first great works of modern fiction but above all as a rejection and “debunking” of the “smug provincialism,” the complacent Christianity, and the pinched morality of the American Midwest. That region’s appearance of quaint virtue, Anderson was said to have shown, masked lives of secret infidelity and quiet desperation. Along with works by Sinclair Lewis, Edgar Lee Masters, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Anderson exemplified what the New York literary critic Carl Van Doren would call “the revolt from the village.” Genuine cultural achievement remained a

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Books, Arts & Manners




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