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An American Tragedy

by Theodore Dreiser

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Book Description
1925. Volume One of Two. American author, outstanding representative of naturalism, whose novels depict real-life subjects in a harsh light. Dreiser's books were held to be amoral, and he battled throughout his career against censorship and popular taste. An American Tragedy is a novel based on the famous case of Chester Gilette's murder of Grace Brown and is generally considered to be Dreiser's greatest accomplishment. In the novel, Clyde Griffiths, son of unworldly, evangelist parents, escapes from them to what seems to him the vastly more exciting and colorful life of a bellboy in a Kansas City Hotel; he moves to New York State to work in a collar factory, and when his girl friend Roberta becomes pregnant he drowns her, possibly accidentally in the event, though after much anguished premeditation, and is tried and condemned to death. See other titles by this author available from Kessinger Publishing. Other volumes in this set are ISBN(s): 1419176617.

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"Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy (1925) is nothing less than what it purports to be -- the harrowing story of a weak-willed young man who destroys himself, a villain who is also victim of the values of a deceptive, materialistic society. Dreiser patterned the story of Clyde Griffiths on a real-life murder that took place in 1906, a charming young social climber who killed his pregnant young girlfriend in order to romance a rich girl who had begun to notice him. A powerful murder story, An American Tragedy is much more than that. For Dreiser pours his own dark yearnings into the character of Clyde Griffiths, while grimly charting the young man's pitiful rise and fall as he pursues empty ambitions to wealth, power and satisfaction. The Indiana-born novelist Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945) has never been a dashing or romantic figure in American literature, and he has no Pulitzer or Nobel Prize to signal his importance. His big, rugged novels were shocking in their day -- unapologetic in their sexual candor, antagonistic to the norms of conventional morality and organized religion, often banned or suppressed -- and challenging still to readers. Yet the brooding force of his writing casts a deep shadow across modern American letters. At his best, in An American Tragedy, Dreiser examines the flip side of The American Dream in a gathering storm of a story that develops with a power echoing Dostoevsky in Crime and Punishment. Inspired by the novels of Balzac and the ideas of Spenser and Freud, Dreiser became one of America's greatest naturalist writers, and An American Tragedy retains its rocky intensity and its devastating view of American longing almost a century later. "

The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Novel by Theodore Dreiser, published in 1925. It is a complex and compassionate account of the life and death of a young antihero named Clyde GRIFFITHS. The novel begins with Clyde's blighted background, recounts his path to success, and culminates in his apprehension, trial, and execution for murder. The book was called by one influential critic "the worst-written great novel in the world," but its questionable grammar and style are transcended by its narrative power. Dreiser's intricate speculations on the extent of Clyde's guilt are countered by his searing indictment of materialism and the American dream of success.

About the Author
Thomas P. Riggio, editor, is a professor of English at the University of Connecticut and general editor of the Dreiser Edition at the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently working on a biography of Theodore Dreiser, Ugly American: A Life of Dreiser.



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