The Modern Writer

Grabhorn Press Book
The Modern Writer
Sherwood Anderson
Donald William McKay (1895-1974).
Edwin & Robert Grabhorn/Lantern Press
Place of Printing:
San Francisco, CA
Date of Printing:
8.5 x 5.5 inches
Sh. 13 #2

Author and Commentators

Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941). American novelist and short-story writer.


Donald William McKay (1895-1974). Book illustrator, cartoonist and artist.

The Book

Title page illustration in red by Donald McKay. Forty-four pages of text. #48 of 50. Named one of the Fifty Books of the Year. There is a notation on the flyleaf: “To S.J. Farquhar with best wishes of Albert M. Bender 1927.”


Sherwood Anderson wrote about the modern writer. He suggested that the standardization that was so common in manufacturing was also becoming common in writing. Magazines that issued millions of copies of their writings did not want writers that would offend the magazine’s readers. This leads to a type of fluff that appears substantial but is not. The image Anderson used was cotton candy. Since most magazines and books are generally created to sell to the widest possible audience, this results in a commercialization of the arts. Thus the works that are created are cheap and transitory but do not really touch the reader. If a writer does this type of writing, he may become popular and successful and even rich but this is not true writing. To be a true writer, a person must be himself. This is the art and the craft. Individualism is important in a writer. Rather than standardization, a writer must work on ideas and feelings (sometimes complex) instead of simplistic ideas. Success does not mean good. The real reward of the writer is the work itself. Often it is important for a real artist to work at a prosaic job to earn the money to work on his art rather than debasing his craft to merely earn money. Two examples that Anderson used were: 1) a painter who painted houses in order to earn money to do actual artistic paintings, and 2) Anderson himself working as an advertising man in order to make the money to work on his novels and short stories.

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