- Series: Signet Classics
- Mass Market Paperback: 896 pages
- Publisher: Signet; 1 edition (August 3, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780451531551
- ISBN-13: 978-0451531551
- ASIN: 0451531558
- Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1.5 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 303 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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An American Tragedy (Signet Classics) Mass Market Paperback – August 3, 2010
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About the Author
Theodore Dreiser was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, on August 27, 1871. After a poor and difficult childhood, Dreiser broke into newspaper work in Chicago in 1892. A successful career as a magazine writer in New York during the late 1890s was followed by his first novel, Sister Carrie (1900). When this work made little impact, Dreiser published no fiction until Jennie Gerhardt in 1911. There then followed a decade and a half of major work in a number of literary forms, which was capped in 1925 by An American Tragedy, a novel that brought him universal acclaim. Dreiser was increasingly preoccupied by philosophical and political issues during the last two decades of his life. He died in Los Angeles on December 28, 1945.
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The characters in this novel are so clearly portrayed that the reader feels s/he would recognize them if seen in person. Each character's words and actions are consistent with the picture Dreiser had previously painted of them. Nothing is out of place in their demeanor.
The courtroom scenes were dynamically descriptive, with the prosecuting attorney's brilliant piecing together of the nefarious incident. One could easily say the construction and presentation of his case were not only a tribute to the justice system of that time, but also to human intelligence. Marvelous!
The author, Theodore Dreiser, is a master of writing and story-telling -- so much so that this was my second reading of the book. He observes many details, from the smallest and (seemingly) most insignificant to the most important and major events. Yet another reason the descriptions of background, places, and mores come to life for the reader.
At times, it may seem that the tale goes on and on without end, but be assured there is nothing superfluous about the details. They all serve to place you right there in the middle of things, seeing what the narrator sees..
Whether the outcome of this novel is to your liking or not, it is still worthy of profound appreciation.
So pleased I decided to read it again!
Then we are subjected to hundreds of pages of torturous back and forth negotiations and correspondence between Roberta and Clyde. He has left her in an untenable position for a young woman at that time, but can't fully commit to making an "honest woman" of her since he still hopes to gain the affections of Sondra. At each turn, you can't help hoping that he will do the "right thing", while at the same time knowing that he won't... He piles on one stupid mistake after another until his situation really becomes hopeless.
Dreiser's prose is stilted and drawn out, yet somehow I couldn't put down the novel until the final heartrending scenes. It was like driving by the scene of an accident on the freeway - though you try to will yourself not to look, you can't help it. Resist the temptation to put down the book halfway through and just plow on - you will be rewarded with a memorable experience.