Chronologically arranged and meticulously edited by Thomas P. Riggio, these letters reveal how wide and deep Dreiser’s needs were. Dreiser often discussed his writing in his letters to women friends, telling them what he wanted to do, where he thought he succeeded and failed, and seeking approval or criticism. By turns seductive, candid, coy, and informative, these letters provide an intimate view of a master writer who knew exactly what he was after.
The book has since acquired a considerable reputation. It has been called the "greatest of all American urban novels." It was adapted as a 1952 film by the same name, directed by William Wyler and starring Laurence Olivier and Jennifer Jones.
"..When Caroline Meeber boarded the afternoon train for Chicago, her total outfit consisted of a small trunk, a cheap imita-tion alligator-skin satchel, a small lunch in a paper box, and a yellow leather snap purse, containing her ticket, a scrap of paper with her sister's address in Van Buren Street, and four dollars in money. It was in August, 1889.
She was eighteen years of age, bright, timid, and full of the illusions of ignorance and youth. Whatever touch of regret at parting characterised her thoughts, it was certainly not for advantages now being given up. A gush of tears at her mother's farewell kiss, a touch in her throat when the cars clacked by the flour mill where her father worked by the day, a pathetic sigh as the familiar green environs of the village passed in review, and the threads which bound her so lightly to girlhood and home were irretrievably broken.."
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