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Monday, February 14, 2011

Edgar Lee Masters - from Spoon River Anthology

Edgar Lee Masters certainly gained accredation for this collection of almost 250 shorts excerpts spoken by a variety of people from beyond the grave in a cemetary in a fictional western Illinois town, Spoon River, on the real river, Spoon River (Pinkerton). The discontinuity of the set of monologues creates individual life stories, all working together as sorts of ghost stories, trying to also teach a moral or lesson to the readers. Spoon River Anthology was a revolt from the village movement, which was trying to show the idealism in a small town because of its apparent heavy religious base (Pinkerton). Each monologue involves scandals and strife ranging from prostitution to bribery, prejudice to valor, and involving anyone from unknown criminals to high level elites (Pinkerton). Regionalism is the largest aspect from which this series would blossom. The small town is full of its own unique individuals who all had led various sorts of lives from grand to boring and everything in between. And, because of their different backgrounds, each person has an equally different point of view on why they died and who to blame for their deaths, but each one also shares one same thing: death. This mistifying quality sets up a feeling of strange but eloquent boldness because it is so different than any other writer's style. It makes Realism writing much easier because the dead have an obvious nothing to hide because they can no longer feel the consequences. Furthermore, the late citizens also cohesively use the common vernacular, much like the ohter works studied so far, of the Midwest. Setting is also important to the erie feeling in Spoon River Anthology because it sets up the reasons why each person is in the location they are. The cemetary is not described thoroughly, but Masters does a wonderful job of setting up a town that incorporates parts oof each of his characters. Such is the story of Archibald Higbie, an artist in Rome who can only manage to paint the face of Abraham Lincoln, an Illinois icon, in his work (Masters). Also, setting is a good way of determining the defferences between Realism and a more specific Regionalism. As the poem moves, the setting, including both time and place, becomes more revealed to the reader, and it becomes more important and relevant to the story as a whole. A theme that branches from the setting is almost always categorized as Regionalism because the setting inadvertently changes the story, due to its changing location, which is a huge factor in Regionalism. Government is unimportant, as is a Hero or the American Dream because the poem is a collection taken from dead people. Then, under the setting and characters themselves, there is a theme of the difficulties involved with life in America during the early 1900s, which also helps the work fit into Realsim because of its multiple glimpses of society from a broad variety of people (Masters). Realism writing frequently details the society of the time, no matter how tough or subtle the author chooses to be.


Works Cited

Masters, Edgar Lee. "Spoon Rivers Anthology." Bartleby: Great Books Online. 2011. Online. http://www.bartleby.com/84/index.html. 14 Feb. 2011.

Pinkerton, Jan, and Randolph H. Hudson. "Spoon River Anthology." Encyclopedia of the Chicago Literary Renaissance. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2004. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= CLR801&SingleRecord=True. 14 Feb. 2011.

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