edgar lee masters


Edgar Lee Masters

An interesting experiment as to the use of language was Spoon River Anthology (1915), written by Edgar Lee Masters under the pseudonym Webster Ford. It is a collection which includes poems about the culture around Lewistown, the town’s cemetery at Oak Hill, and the nearby (vicino) Spoon River. Spoon River was Masters’s revenge (vendetta) on small-town hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness (ristrettezza mentale). It got a huge (enorme) popularity, but damaged (danneggiò) Master’s position as a respectable member of establishment (status sociale). Spoon River is a river in Fulton County, Illinoise. The names is due to the Indian use of the river: they harvested fish and mussels from the waters and used the mussel shells (conchiglie) as utensil, in particular spoons (cucchiai). The collection includes two hundred and twelve different characters, who tell two-hundred forty-four stories of their lives. There is a poem which introduces the village and the cemetery followed by poems which are epitaphs of dead citizens, told by the dead themselves (raccontati dai morti stessi). The poems were originally published in the magazine Reedy’s Mirror. The New Spoon River was then published in 1924.

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