An American Tragedy

An American Tragedy

3.9 21
by Theodore Dreiser
     
 

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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…  See more details below

Overview

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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser (1871-1945) was an American novelist and journalist best known for his pioneer work in the naturalist school. His writing often portrays characters whose strength lies not in their moral code or ethics, but instead in their absolute persistence as they are confronted by all obstacles; their unwillingness to yield. These are situations that more closely resemble studies of nature than tales of choice and agency.

Dreiser's first commercial success was An American Tragedy (1925), which was made into a film in 1931 and again in 1951 (as A Place in the Sun). An opera was also commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in 2005.

Literary critic Irving Howe said of Dreiser that he was, "among the American giants, one of the very few American giants we have had," and one of Dreiser's chief advocates during his lifetime was H.L. Mencken who said, "that he is a great artist, and that no other American of his generation left so wide and handsome a mark upon the national letters."

SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

From classic book to classic film, RosettaBooks has gathered some of most memorable books into film available. The selection is broad ranging and far reaching, with books from classic genre to cult classic to science fiction and horror and a blend of the two creating whole new genres like Richard Matheson's The Shrinking Man. Classic works from Vonnegut, one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, meet with E.M. Forster's A Passage to India. Whether the work is centered in the here and now, in the past, or in some distant and almost unimaginable future, each work is lasting and memorable and award-winning.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940013088771
Publisher:
RosettaBooks
Publication date:
07/01/2010
Series:
RosettaBooks into Film , #31
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
20,109
File size:
4 MB

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser (1871-1945) was an American novelist and journalist best known for his pioneer work in the naturalist school. His writing often portrays characters whose strength lies not in their moral code or ethics, but instead in their absolute persistence as they are confronted by all obstacles; their unwillingness to yield. These are situations that more closely resemble studies of nature than tales of choice and agency.

Dreiser's first commercial success was An American Tragedy (1925), which was made into a film in 1931 and again in 1951 (as A Place in the Sun). An opera was also commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in 2005.

Literary critic Irving Howe said of Dreiser that he was, "among the American giants, one of the very few American giants we have had," and one of Dreiser's chief advocates during his lifetime was H.L. Mencken who said, "that he is a great artist, and that no other American of his generation left so wide and handsome a mark upon the national letters."

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An American Tragedy 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
ReadingfreakLA More than 1 year ago
Theadore Dreiser got scarcely a mention during American Lit Class when I was in high school. I had mistaken classified him as an early American writer. So I was surprised to learn that he wrote An American Tragedy in 1938 while in Hollywood, working for a film company. I was also pleasantly surprised to find it one of the best books I've read in several years. Drieser's book is a fascinating character study in the psychology of crime, and also a snapshot on how much the culture has changed in its social attitudes toward sex outside of marriage and pregancy. Based on an actual murder case which occurred in the early 20th Century,it reflects the ambition and attitudes of class consciousness that was the dark side of "the American Dream". At 800-plus pages, it is a little long, but a superbly written book. It is well worth the time and effort. I give it an A.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although the first 50 pages are somewhat slow moving, if you push forward you will find a true literary treasure.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a story that most have seen as society corrupting and destoying a young man. I see it as the story of a young man with a deeply flawed character who was doomed by his own actions. The point is that this book, like any great story, can be studied on many levels and from many points of view.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a high school student and chose to read this for my book report. I get bored easily and found that I could not put this novel down. It is a wonderful portrayal of the regression of an average American boy into a hardened criminal. Dreiser should be commended for his dark yet substantially interesting novel.