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Jennie Gerhardt

by Theodore Dreiser

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"She was horrified, stunned, like a bird in the grasp of a cat, but somehow through it all was something terrific, inviting, urging, was speaking to her. He released her from his grasp. 'We won't do any more of this here, but you belong to me'." Jennie Gerhardt was Theodore Dreiser's second novel and his first commercial success. It is regarded as one of his three best novels, along with Sister Carrie and An American Tragedy. This edition presents the text as it was originally written, restoring the novel to its complete form.

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The world into which Jennie was thus unduly thrust forth was that in which virtue has always vainly struggled since time immemorial; for virtue is the wishing well and the doing well unto others. Virtue is that quality of generosity which offers itself willingly for another's service, and, being this, it is held by society to be nearly worthless. Sell yourself cheaply and you shall be used lightly and trampled under foot. Hold yourself dearly, however unworthily, and you will be respected. Society in the mass, lacks woefully in the matter of discrimination.

The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Novel by Theodore Dreiser, published in 1911. It exemplifies the naturalism of which Dreiser was a proponent, telling the unhappy story of a working-class woman who accepts all the adversity life visits on her and becomes the mistress of two wealthy and powerful men in order to help her impoverished family.

From the Publisher
James L. W. West III is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English at Penn State University. He is the author of many books, including American Authors and the Literary Marketplace since 1900, an expansion of his 1983 Rosenbach Lectures at the University of Pennsylvania, and The Making of This Side of Paradise, both available from the University of Pennsylvania Press. His most recent books are William Styron: A Life (1998) and The Perfect Hour: The Romance of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ginevra King (2005).



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