Poem Illustration for the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

Poem Illustration for the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4627-8.ch015
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This project makes a connection between visual arts and a literary analysis of the masterpiece collection of poems, Spoon River Anthology, by Edgar Lee Masters, his work, and his times. The aim of this project is to create an artistic expression of our understanding of Edgar Lee Masters’s work as a personal response to the spirit and the meaning of the verse, as well as to the author’s comments on the philosophical, social, and historical issues.
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Edgar Lee Masters And His Times

Both the Internet resources and books on history of American literature provide information about life of the poet and his achievements confirmed by almost one hundred editions of his book, translations into many languages, and by granting the poet in 1946 the Academy of American Poets Fellowship; also, some comments and explanations about his personal views within historical and cultural context. Edgar Lee Masters intertwined his social and ethical involvement with the accounts of the frustrated lives of his characters. People portrayed in his poems speak in free-verse monologues that sound like their own epitaphs – inscriptions on their tombstones in memory of themselves, buried there.

Masters conveys his philosophical concerns about accidental events that determined fates of these deceased persons and prevented them from fulfilling their desires. The fatalistic drama about their lives reflects Masters’ anger caused by social exploitation, political injustice, and economic hardship. Masters expressed his sympathy aroused by the misfortunes of soldiers just before America entered World War I (in 1917, throughout the course of Woodrow Wilson’s presidency). One may also find in the “Spoon River Anthology” a depiction of how the industrial developments in American economy affected the village life.

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