The Other Woman, by Sherwood Anderson

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Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941) was not only a master of the psychological short story, but also one of the best chroniclers of the rural American experience. Take this passage from his novel Winesburg, Ohio, from 1919, describing that special summer feeling you sometimes get in Midwestern towns:

There is something memorable in the experience to be had by going into a fair ground that stands at the edge of a Middle Western town on a night after the annual fair has been held. The sensation is one never to be forgotten. On all sides are ghosts, not of the dead, but of living people. Here, during the day just passed, have come the people pouring in from the town and the country around. Farmers with their wives and children and all the people from the hundreds of little frame houses have gathered within these board walls. Young girls have laughed and men with beards have talked of the affairs of their lives. The place has been filled to overflowing with life. It has itched and squirmed with life and now it is night and the life has all gone away. The silence is almost terrifying. One conceals oneself standing silently beside the trunk of a tree and what there is of a reflective tendency in his nature is intensified. One shudders at the thought of the meaninglessness of life while at the same instant, and if the people of the town are his people, one loves life so intensely that tears come into the eyes…

Tonight’s story, “The Other Woman”, first anthologised in 1921, is one of the saddest I know – on so many levels…

The Other Woman, by Sherwood Anderson [22:22]

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