Edited By Mirosława Buchholtz and Eugenia Sojka
Impossible Escape from Jubilee and Winesburg: The Making of an Artist
To Don Grayston who introduced me to Alice Munro and Munro’s Books in Victoria
Almost three generations apart, Sherwood Anderson and Alice Munro grew up in provincial communities situated on the Great Lakes, on opposite sides of the US-Canadian border. While their escape from restrictive small-town lives launched the literary careers of both, neither Anderson, remembered almost exclusively for his cycle of stories Winesburg, Ohio (1919), nor Munro, compulsively setting her stories in a provincial Ontario community in Huron County, ever succeeded in freeing themselves from the places of their origins. Brought up in small communities permeated by strict Calvinist morality, both future writers became familiar with the ghosts of repressions lurking beneath the thin veneer of civilized, middle-class lives, ready to burst forth at the least expected moment: they were familiar with the Gothic underpinnings of small-town lives. But those distortions, repressions, the loneliness and hypocrisy were only part of the picture, as Anderson and Munro well knew. The other part was the complexity, perseverance, and tragic greatness of the men and women who had braved the hostile environment and desired a better future for their children, often against the children’s own explicit ideas about what constitutes happiness. There is much ambiguity and a love-hate attitude in both writers’ fictional renditions of their respective places of origin. This is so because, drawing on the recollected details of life in the towns of their childhood, Anderson and Munro bring forth their universal dimensions....
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