grotesque - Jason Mull 9-30-08 Winesgurg Rough Draft...

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Jason Mull 9-30-08 Winesgurg Rough Draft “Multiplicity” Sherwood Anderson’s novel “Winseburg, Ohio” is marked by a common thread of human longing and desire; a sense that there is something incomplete or broken in all of us. The first story, “The Book of the Grotesque,” sets the tone for the rest of the novel, describing the almost prophetic vision of an old writer. The writer, in a “sleepy” yet still “conscious” state edging on dream-like delirium, imagined a “procession” of “grotesque” figures; hallucinations which prefigure the inhabitants of Winesburg, Ohio (page 5). The writer held the notion that the world is full of “truths”, each as “beautiful” as any other (page 5). But, he also held that the moment a person, “took one of the truths to himself, called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque, and the truth he embraced became a falsehood” (Page 6). It is the manipulation of one’s own worldview to fit the confines of a single “truth” which deforms the characters of the novel. Anderson seems to criticize a singular worldview; celebrating the ultimate multiplicity of the universe. Many of the inhabitants of Winesburg are caught between two competing “truths”; the secular world is put at odds with the religious one, the modern world against the traditional, and the rural life against the city life. Anderson simply maintains that these contrasting worlds and “truths” are not mutually exclusive. He feels that it is possible for them to live harmoniously within the same complex and infinitely varying universe. It is important, first, to fully understand the meaning of the word “grotesque,” in the
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grotesque - Jason Mull 9-30-08 Winesgurg Rough Draft...

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