Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

Marching Men
Sherwood Anderson


Both fictional and autobiographical, Anderson’s second novel is a coming of age story that explores the individual and collective identities shaping American life. Although he is known today for his story collection Winesburg, Ohio, a pioneering work of Modernist literature admired for its plainspoken language and psychological detail, Anderson’s Marching Men is a powerful work of fiction that helped establish him as a leading realist writer of his generation. “In a country of so many varied climates and occupations as America it is absurd to talk of an American type. The country is like a vast disorganised undisciplined army, leaderless, uninspired, going in route-step along the road to they know not what end.”

At a young age, Norman McGregor, a misfit dreamer, knows this to be true of his country. Fourteen-year-old Norman, ironically named “Beaut” for his homely appearance, works alongside his mother at a bakery in the town of Coal Creek. When frustration over unpaid debts leads him to close the bakery, a group of disgruntled miners nearly destroys his family’s only source of income. At the last second, a group of soldiers marches in to protect them, inspiring Norman with a sense of unity. As a young man, he leaves his hometown for Chicago, where he develops a relationship with a woman who introduces him to politics and labor organizing. Unable to shake the memory of the marching soldiers, he dedicates his life to collective empowerment. Marching Men is a story of the American Dream, for all of its difficult truths and convenient fictions.

Paperback, 198pp
Mint Classics, 2021 (1917)
ISBN 9781513283500


SHERWOOD ANDERSON (1876-1941) was an American businessman and writer of short stories and novels. Born in Ohio, Anderson was self-educated and became, by his early thirties, a successful salesman and business owner. Within a decade, however, Anderson suffered what was described as a nervous breakdown and fled his seemingly picture-perfect life for the city of Chicago, where he had lived for a time in his twenties. In doing so, he left behind a wife and three children, but embarked upon a writing career that would win him acclaim as one of the finest American writers of the early-twentieth century.