Theodore Dreiser by nikeborome


									Theodore Dreiser
• Theodore Dreiser
  (1871 - 1945)
• Category: American Literature

  Born: August 27, 1871
  Sullivan, Indiana, United States

  Died: December 28, 1945
  Hollywood, California, United
   Biography of Theodore Dreiser(1)
• Herman Theodore Dreiser, son of German immigrants, was
  born in Terre Haute, Indiana, on August 27, 1871. He was the
  ninth in a family of ten children. In 1869, his father's woolen mill
  was destroyed by fire, and the family remained in poverty and
  was forced to move numerous times out of financial necessity.
  Dreiser was a sensitive child, stuttered, and was often humiliated
  by his family's poverty. All these experiences had a profound
  effect on his writing. Because he came from a poor family, he
  developed a preoccupation with wealth and success at an early
  age. Many of his novels describe the moral decay of people who
  become obsessed by a desire for wealth. He was educated at
  various public and parochial schools in Indiana. When he was
  twelve years old, the family moved briefly to Chicago and
  Dreiser developed a fascination with the city that lasted his entire
  life. As a young man, he attended the University of Indiana,
  however, he only remained in college for one year, from 1889 to
   Biography of Theodore Dreiser(2)
• For a while, Dreiser drifted from job to job; he worked as a driver for a
  laundry, in a real estate office, and as a collector for a furniture store. He
  began his writing career by working for the St. Louis Globe Democrat. He
  also worked for newspapers in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and New York, where he
  finally settled in 1894. He was a voracious reader and was influenced by the
  writings of Poe, Hawthorne, Balzac, Freud and philosopher, Herbert Spencer.
  He eventually came to view people as helpless victims of indifferent natural
  forces. In 1898 he married Sara White, a school teacher from Missouri,
  however, Dreiser found it very difficult to remain faithful to one woman. He
  had numerous affairs, sometimes several at once. During these years he
  earned a living as an editor for several magazines for women.
• His early writings include Sister Carrie, which was published in 1900. This was
  the story of a young unmarried woman who lived with two successive men,
  but was not corrupted by the experience. The book was extremely
  controversial due to its immoral nature. The publishers refused to market it.
  However, after his second book, Jennie Gerhardt, was favorably received in
  1911, Sister Carrie was reissued. This was the beginning of Dreiser's
  successful writing career.
   Biography of Theodore Dreiser(3)
• His later writings include his most commercially successful novel,
  An American Tragedy (1925) which was twice adapted into film,
  in 1931 and 1951. In this famous story he showed that the real
  criminal was not Clyde Griffiths, the killer, but the slum
  environment in which he grew up. He also wrote an
  autobiography, A Book About Myself, later re-titled Newspaper
  Days, which was published in 1922, and Dawn, published in
• He also published accounts of his travels through the United
  States and abroad. A Traveler at 40 was published in 1931. A
  Hoosier Holiday was published in 1916; and his articles about
  Russia, Dreiser Looks at Russia, which were originally published
  in the New York World, was published in 1928. In 1932 he
  published Tragic America, in which he applauded the
  achievements of Russia. This book was followed by America is
  Worth Saving, published in 1941. Later his writing took him out
  west where he died in Hollywood, California on December 28,
                LIFE STORIES
• 4/17/1981
• Looking For Sister Carrie

  On this day in 1981 the University of Pennsylvania
  Press issued their edition of Theodore Dreiser's Sister
  Carrie, in which some 40,000 words are restored to the
  text and various changes to the original manuscript are
  reversed. Far from settling the issue, the Pennsylvania
  edition provided yet another chapter to one of the most
  famous and controversial stories in American book
      Works by Theodore Dreiser(1)
•   THE TITAN, 1914
•   THE "GENIUS", 1915
•   TWELVE MEN, 1919
•   HEY-RUB-A-DUB-DUB, 1920
•   CHAINS, 1927
      Works by Theodore Dreiser(2)
•   EPITAPH, 1929
•   MY CITY, 1929
•   DAWN, 1931
    THOREAU, 1939
•   THE BULWARK, 1946
•   THE STOIC, 1947
    DREISER, 1959
•   NOTES ON LIFE, 1974
       Introduction of An American
• Theodore Dreiser's massive novel An American Tragedy was
  published in December 1925 in two volumes. Coming in the
  middle of Dreiser's long career, it was the first novel to earn him
  fame and wealth, though not the first to be controversial.
• An American Tragedy is a detailed portrayal of the dark side of the
  American Dream, the story of which can happen when an
  ordinary man's desire for wealth and status overwhelms his moral
  sense. Dreiser built the novel around a real-life crime after
  spending years researching incidents in which men murdered
  women with whom they had been romantically involved but who
  had become inconvenient for one reason or another (often
  because of an unwanted pregnancy, as in the novel). Dreiser
  chose as his starting point the case of Chester Gillette, who
  drowned his pregnant girlfriend in a New York lake in 1906. Like
  the novel's Clyde Griffiths, Chester Gillette was electrocuted for
  his crime.
       Introduction of An American
• An American Tragedy is widely considered
  Dreiser's best novel and an important
  work of American naturalism. Naturalism,
  which began in Europe and flowered in
  America, is a literary style that explores
  the premise that individuals' fates are
  determined by a combination of
  hereditary and environmental constraints
  that leave no room for free will or true
  individual choice. Some scholars and
  critics consider An American Tragedy one of
  the greatest American novels of any style
  or period.
    Short Summary of Sister Carrie(1)
• Caroline Meeber, known as Carrie, leaves her home at age eighteen and takes
  the train to Chicago. The man sitting behind her on the train, named Drouet,
  starts talking to her. Carrie soon becomes interested in him due to his fine
  clothing and manners. Upon arriving in Chicago she says goodbye to him, but
  not before she has given him her address.
• Carrie meets her sister Minnie Hanson and moves into one of the rooms in
  Minnie's apartment. Mr. Hanson arrives home that night but does not pay too
  much attention to her. Carrie soon realizes that the Hansons expect her to find
  a job and pay them rent. As far as they are concerned, she is supplemental
  income. After the weekend she enters the commercial part of the city and starts
  looking for a job. Being naturally timid, Carrie is frightened of entering the
  factories and shops and asking for a job, the result being that she is not hired
  that day. After several days of searching she finds employment in a shoe
• Carrie works hard at her job, but discovers that the salary is too low for her to
  pay rent and purchase clothes for the winter. She soon falls ill from the cold
  and takes several days to recover. Assuming that she has lost her new job,
  Carrie returns to the streets in the desperate hopes of finding new employment,
  but becomes frustrated when nothing is available.
    Short Summary of Sister Carrie(2)
• Almost ready to head home, Carrie accidentally meets Drouet on the street.
  He kindly offers her a meal and takes her to a fine restaurant. After much
  insisting he convinces her to meet him again the next day and presses twenty
  dollars into her hand. Carrie is loath to take the money and afraid that Minnie
  will find out where she got it, so instead of spending the money she decides to
  return it to Drouet. She meets him again the next day and he takes her out
  shopping, buying her an entire wardrobe in the process.
• Carrie is so elated by the way he treats her that she agrees to allow him to rent
  an apartment for her. She sneaks her things out of Minnie's house, leaving
  only a short note behind, and takes off. Things go well with Drouet for a
• Drouet then introduces Carrie to his friend Hurstwood, the manager of one of
  the top bars in the city. Hurstwood is far more refined and elegant than
  Drouet, and soon he comes over to play cards with Carrie and Drouet. He
  next offers to take them to the theater. When Drouet is away, Hurstwood
  begins to stop by the apartment and woo Carrie, finally getting her to kiss him
  while on a buggy ride. He falls madly in love with her and starts to think of
  getting her to run away with him.
       Short Summary of Sister Carrie(3)
• Drouet, unaware of what is going on between Carrie and Hurstwood, returns to
  Chicago for several weeks. He is asked to find a girl to perform in his Mason's
  lodge play and asks Carrie if she would do it. She agrees, and Hurstwood get
  together all the top people in the city to watch her perform. Carrie puts on a
  stunning performance as a result of Drouet's support for her, but Hurstwood starts
  to become insanely jealous when he sees them together.
• Hurstwood's family life falls apart rapidly as he has been neglecting his wife in
  order to see Carrie. She finally realizes what is going on and demands that he give
  her money. Meanwhile, Drouet has also discovered that Carrie has been spending
  far more time with Hurstwood then he ever thought. Drouet angrily walks out on
  Carrie, and Hurstwood foolishly fights with his wife, not realizing that his wife has
  the entire property in her name. She then files for divorce, hires a detective, and
  locks him out of the house.
• Hurstwood goes to his workplace and spends his nights at a local hotel. One
  evening he is locking up the bar and discovers that the safe is unlocked. He pulls
  out over ten thousand dollars in cash and accidentally locks the safe before he can
  put the money back. Without thinking he takes the cash and rushes to Carrie's
  apartment. He tells her that Drouet has had an accident and that they need to go to
  the hospital. With that lie he gets her onto a train heading to Detroit and from
  there to Montreal. Carrie is upset and furious with him, but passively does nothing
  to resist.
     Short Summary of Sister Carrie(4)
• From Montreal they head to New York City where Hurstwood rents an
  apartment for them. He has sent back most of the money he stole while in
  Montreal in order to avoid prosecution, keeping only thirteen hundred in order to
  establish his own business. He soon finds a bar looking for a business partner and
  buys a one-third stake for one thousand. Things are fine until the owner of the
  land that the bar is on decides to kick them out and build an office building.
  Hurstwood only has seven hundred dollars and struggles to find new
• He and Carrie are soon forced to move into a smaller apartment. Failing to find
  work, Hurstwood slowly degenerates into idleness. He takes up some gambling
  and loses over a hundred dollars in one night. Carrie loses interest in him as a
  person and starts considering her other alternatives. Things get progressively
  worse until Hurstwood does not even leave the apartment anymore, preferring to
  sit around in his old clothes.
• When Hurstwood is almost out of money, Carrie decides that she will have to get
  a job to support them. After a few days she is given a spot in the chorus line of a
  Broadway show. Her salary is barely enough for them to live on, but Hurstwood
  scrapes by. She is soon promoted to lead the chorus line and later to an even
  better paying dancing position. Carrie refuses to tell Hurstwood about her success
  because she need the extra money to purchase clothes for herself.
    Short Summary of Sister Carrie(5)
• Hurstwood takes one last job when the trolley car workers go on strike. He
  applies for a position and becomes a scab, a man who works when everyone
  else is striking. However, an angry mob soon manages to stop his car and after
  being shot at he decides to give up and head home. Carrie luckily is given a
  speaking part one day and at that point decides to leave Hurstwood in order to
  live with an actress friend of hers. She moves out while he is taking a walk.
• The rest of the novel traces Carrie's rise and Hurstwood's fall. He soon loses
  the apartment and is forced to become a homeless beggar who stays in cheap
  hotels in the Bowery part of town. Carrie meanwhile is given a silent role, but
  plays it so well that she becomes an overnight star and signs a contract paying
  her a hundred and fifty dollars a week, an exorbitant sum for her.
• Drouet moves to New York and tries to reestablish his relationship with
  Carrie, but she brushes him off. Hurstwood, in despair, commits suicide by
  gassing himself with methane in his hotel room one night. His wife and
  daughter take a voyage to Rome with a wealthy young man that his daughter
  has married while his dead body is carted away on a ship. Carrie meanwhile
  has become unhappy with her state in the world, wishing that she could
  perform drama rather than comedy.
     Quotes of Theodore Dreiser(1)
• "A woman should some day write the complete
  philosophy of clothes. No matter how young, it is one
  of the things she wholly comprehends. There is an
  indescribably faint line in the matter of man's apparel
  which somehow divides for her those who are worth
  glancing at and those who are not. Once an individual
  has passed this faint line on the way downward he will
  get no glance from her. There is another line at which
  the dress of a man will cause her to study her own."
  (from Sister Carrie)
     Quotes of Theodore Dreiser(2)
• "People did live, then, after they were dead, especially
  evil people - people stronger than you, perhaps. They
  had the power to come back, to haunt, to annoy you if
  they didn't like anything you had done to them." (from
  'The Hand')
             For Further Reading(1)
• Theodore Dreiser by B. Rascoe (1926);
• Forgotten Frontiers: Dreiser and the Land of the Free by D. Dudley
• Theodore Dreiser: Apostle of Nature by R.H. Elias (1949);
• Theodore Dreiser by F.O. Matthiessen (1951);
• The Stature of Theodore Dreiser, ed. by C. Shapiro and A. Kazin
• Theodore Dreiser by P.L. Gerber (1964);
• Dreiser by W.A. Swanberg (1965);
• Theodore Dreiser by M. Thader (1965);
• Theodore Dreiser: His World and His Novels by R. Lehan (1969);
• Homage to Theodore Dreiser by R.P. Warren (1971);
• Theodore Dreiser by J. Lundquist (1974);
              For Further Reading(2)
• Theodore Dreiser: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography by D. Pizer
• The Novels of Theodore Dreiser by D. Pizer (1977);
• Theodore Dreiser: At the Gates of the City, 1871-1907 by Richard
  Lingeman (1986);
• The Gospel of Wealth in the American Novel by Arun Mukherjee (1987);
• After Eden by Conrad Eugene Ostwalt (1990);
• Theodore Dreiser: An American Journey 1908-1945 by Richard Lingeman
• Dearest Wilding by Yvette Eastmaned, ed. by Thomas P. Riggio
• Love That Will Not Let Me Go, ed. by Marguerite Tjader (1998);
• An American Tragedy by Paul A. Orlov (1998);
• Dreiser and Veblen Saboteurs of the Status Quo by Clare Virginia Eby

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