The "genius"

New York : Boni and Liveright
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Publisher
New York : Boni and Liveright
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Published on
Dec 31, 1915
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Pages
736
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Language
English
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This content is DRM free.
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Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy (1925) is nothing less than what the title holds it to be; it is the story of a weak-willed young man who is both villain and victim (the victim of a valueless, materialistic society) and someone who ultimately destroys himself. Dreiser modeled the story of Clyde Griffiths on a real-life murder that took place in 1906; a young social climber of considerable charm murdered his pregnant girlfriend to get her out of the way so that he could instead play to the affections of a rich girl who had begun to notice him.

But An American Tragedy is more than simply a powerful murder story. Dreiser pours his own dark yearnings into his character, Clyde Griffiths, as he details the young man’s course through his ambitions of wealth, power, and satisfaction.

The Indiana-born Dreiser (1871-1945) has never cut a dashing or romantic swath through American literature. He has no Pulitzer or Nobel Prize to signify his importance. Yet he remains for myriad reasons: his novels are often larger than life, rugged, and defy the norms of conventional morality and organized religion. They are unapologetic in their sexual candor--in fact, outrightly frank--and challenge even modern readers. The brooding force of Dreiser’s writing casts a dark shadow across American letters.

Here in An American Tragedy, Dreiser shows us the flip side of The American Dream in a gathering storm that echoes with all of the power and force of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Inspired by the writings of Balzac and the ideas of Spenser and Freud, Dreiser went on to become one of America’s best naturalist writers. An American Tragedy is testimony to the strength of Dreiser’s work: it retains all of its original intensity and force.

"Sister Carrie … came to housebound and airless America like a great free Western wind, and to our stuffy domesticity gave us the first fresh air since Mark Twain and Whitman." — Sinclair Lewis
"It is a great novel and belongs on anybody's list, absolutely." — Garrison Keillor
An eighteen-year-old girl without money or connections ventures forth from her small town in search of a better life in Theodore Dreiser's revolutionary first novel. The chronicle of Carrie Meeber's rise from obscurity to fame — and the effects of her progress on the men who use her and are used in turn — aroused a storm of controversy and debate upon its debut in 1900. The author's nonjudgmental portrait of a heroine who violates the contemporary moral code outraged some critics, including the book's publisher, Frank Doubleday, who tried to back out of his agreement his firm had made with Dreiser. But others were elated — and Dreiser's compelling plot and realistic characters continue to fascinate readers.
"Sister Carrie stands outside the brief traffic of the customary stage. It leaves behind an inescapable impression of bigness, of epic sweep and dignity. It is not a mere story, not a novel in the customary American meaning of the word; it is at once a psalm of life and a criticism of life … [Dreiser's] aim is not merely to tell a tale; his aim is to show the vast ebb and flow of forces which sway and condition human destiny. The thing he seeks to do is to stir, to awaken, to move. One does not arise from such a book as Sister Carrie with a smirk of satisfaction; one leaves it infinitely touched." — H. L. Mencken
This historic book may have numerous typos, missing text or index. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. 1919. Not illustrated. Excerpt: ... Phantom Gold You would have to have seen it to have gathered a true impression--the stubby roughness of the country, the rocks, the poverty of the soil, the poorness of the houses, barns, agricultural implements, horses and cattle and even human beings, in consequence--especially human beings, for why should they, any more than any other product of the soil, flourish where all else was so poor? It was old Judge Blow who first discovered that "Jack," or zinc, was the real riches of Taney, if it could be said to have had any before "Jack" was discovered. Months before the boom began he had stood beside a smelter in far-off K one late winter afternoon and examined with a great deal of care the ore which the men were smelting, marveling at its resemblance to certain rocks or boulders known as "slug lumps" in his home county. "What is this stuff?" he asked of one of the bare-armed men who came out from the blazing furnace after a time to wipe his dripping face. "Zinc," returned the other, as he passed his huge, soiled palm over his forehead. "We have stuff down in our county that looks like that," said the judge as he turned the dull-looking lump over and considered for a while. "I'm sure of it--any amount." Then he became suddenly silent, for a thought struck him. "Well, if it's really 'Jack, ' " said the workman, using the trade or mining name for it, "there's money in it, all right. This here comes from St. Francis." The old judge thought of this for a little while and quietly turned away. He knew where St. Francis was. If this was so valuable that they could ship it all the way from southeast B, why not from Taney? Had he not many holdings in Taney? The result was that before long a marked if secret change began to manifest itself in Taney and regions adjacent th...
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