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Other Main-Travelled Roads   By: (1860-1940)

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In "Other Main-Travelled Roads," Hamlin Garland takes readers on a journey through the bleak landscapes of rural America, shedding light on the harsh realities faced by farmers and laborers in the late 19th century. With a collection of short stories that lay bare the struggles, sacrifices, and despair of ordinary people, Garland paints a vivid and haunting picture of life in the heartland.

Garland's writing style is raw and evocative, pulling readers into the very essence of the setting. Through his use of vivid descriptions and stark imagery, he captures the relentless hardships and emotional toll that comes with the rural existence. From tales of failed crops and impoverished families to the ceaseless toil under an unforgiving sun, each story exposes the fragility of hope and the cruel hand dealt out by fate.

However, it is not just the physical challenges that Garland explores in this collection. He delves into the psychological impact of poverty, isolation, and unfulfilled dreams on the human spirit. His characters are multifaceted and deeply human, grappling with inner demons as they navigate a world that often seems indifferent to their struggles. Whether it is a farmer driven to madness by the burdens of debt or a daughter torn between duty and desire, each individual is depicted with a profound sense of empathy and understanding.

Furthermore, Garland's portrayal of the Midwestern landscape is nothing short of breathtaking. He crafts a lyrical narrative that brings the desolate prairies, endless miles of cornfields, and dusty country roads to life. The natural world becomes a character in itself - a formidable force that both shapes and molds the lives of those who inhabit it. Through his lush descriptions, Garland manages to imbue the seemingly mundane with an otherworldly beauty.

While "Other Main-Travelled Roads" can be a challenging read due to its unflinching realism, it is also a work that insists on the importance of empathy and compassion. Garland's stories act as a powerful reminder of the enduring spirit of those who struggled against overwhelming odds. It is a testament to the resilience and strength of the human condition, even in the face of overwhelming hardships.

In conclusion, "Other Main-Travelled Roads" is a thought-provoking and poignant collection of stories that shines a critical light on the struggles faced by ordinary individuals in rural America. Hamlin Garland's evocative prose and nuanced characterization make this book a compelling read. This is a work that not only reflects the realities of a bygone era but also holds up a mirror to our own society, urging us to reflect on the importance of compassion and understanding in an increasingly divided world.

First Page:

[Illustration: DADDY DEERING]







They rise to mastery of wind and snow; They go like soldiers grimly into strife, To colonize the plain; they plough and sow, And fertilize the sod with their own life As did the Indian and the buffalo.


Above them soars a dazzling sky, In winter blue and clear as steel, In summer like an arctic sea Wherein vast icebergs drift and reel And melt like sudden sorcery.

Beneath them plains stretch far and fair, Rich with sunlight and with rain; Vast harvests ripen with their care And fill with overplus of grain Their square, great bins.

Yet still they strive! I see them rise At dawn light, going forth to toil: The same salt sweat has filled my eyes, My feet have trod the self same soil Behind the snarling plough.


Nearly all the stories in this volume were written at the same time and under the same impulse as those which compose its companion volume, Main Travelled Roads and the entire series was the result of a summer vacation visit to my old home in Iowa, to my father's farm in Dakota, and, last of all, to my birthplace in Wisconsin... Continue reading book >>

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