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The Financier Paperback – November 17, 2013
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Praise for Theodore Dreiser:
''Theodore Dreiser is a man who, with the passage of time, is bound to loom larger and larger in the awakening aesthetic consciousness of America . . . If there is a modern movement in American prose writing, a movement toward greater courage and fidelity to life in writing, Theodore Dreiser is the pioneer and the hero of the movement.'' --Sherwood Anderson
About the Author
<DIV>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.
Larzer Ziff is a research professor of English at Johns Hopkins University who has written extensively on American literary culture.</div>
Top customer reviews
This book was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal one Saturday recently, by someone who was listing his five favorite books about the financial world. He opined that this book is as relevant today as it was when it was published 100 years ago, and that is true. It does help to explain the panics of 1871, following the Great Fire of Chicago, and 1873; it also makes clear that such widespread meltdowns cannot happen again, following the banking reforms enacted after Black Friday, 1929 (which had not yet happened when this book was written).
The quote with which I opened explains the character of Frank Cowperwood, the financier in this novel. Born to a middle class family in Philadelphia, Frank aspires from an early age to be a financier extraordinaire - and achieves his goal at a young age. This is the story of his rise and all which follows. Very well written, although at a few points the author becomes quite verbose, thus I deducted one star. I plan to purchase this in hard copy for one of my sons, a finance professor.
As is typical of Dreiser, Cowperwood’s story is told in a naturalistic style that is about as real as realism gets. Dreiser’s detailed, matter-of-fact prose vividly immerses the reader in the time, place, and social environment of the narrative. When the novel focuses on the human drama surrounding the money matters, it can be very emotionally involving. Even though the protagonist is a somewhat despicable human being whose self-centeredness clouds his judgment of right and wrong, the reader can’t help but root for Cowperwood because Dreiser has drawn him as a complex human being with identifiable faults. At times, Dreiser delves deeper into the financial machinations than I cared to go, and he assumes a fair amount of stock-market knowledge on the part of the reader. If you like novels about hypothecated shares and sinking funds, this is the book for you. Today’s financial world is difficult enough to understand, much less the system that was in place before and immediately after the Civil War. The deals and manipulations taking place in the Financier are more difficult to decipher than similar goings-on in other financially themed naturalist novels like Frank Norris’s The Pit or Emile Zola’s Money.
Any confusion, however, is not due to lack of exposition. The main problem with The Financier is that it is too long-winded and repetitive, particularly in its flabby mid-section. The same conversations seem to take place over and over again. Is it really necessary to include the complete text of the closing arguments of a court case, after the several preceding chapters have already outlined both sides of the argument? Some summarizing would have been appreciated. Dreiser is so thorough in his description, his narrative so protracted, that most of the time I felt like I was experiencing the action of the novel in real time. That’s fine when interesting things are happening, but not when you’re sitting through another meeting in which Cowperwood repeats what he told someone else the day before. While the story as a whole is too drawn-out, the ending feels rushed and too convenient. Then Dreiser caps the work off with two brief epilogues; one unnecessary, the other vague.
The Financier is the first novel in Dreiser’s Trilogy of Desire, followed by The Titan and The Stoic. Honestly, The Financier might have been a better book if it were a stand-alone novel. Perhaps then the conclusion would have been more satisfying. Nevertheless, despite my reservations about this novel, I will probably follow the trilogy through to its end. The Financier may be flawed, but Dreiser is an exceptional author whose work is essential to the history of American literary realism. Even his less successful books are worth reading.
In this work, we are introduced to Cowperwood's financial successes and excesses and begin to get a feel for his peculiar personality. A passionless man who possesses a James Bondian demeanor under pressure and strife in his professional world, he seems to be unable to control his sexual cravings for young women.
You won't find any seething orgies in this book, as Dreiser was writing at a time when sexual encounters were cleverly nuanced in suggestive phrases, but his penchant for sex is introduced in this work, to be then splendidly displayed in the second novel, The Titan.
One tiring aspect of this book is the author's desire to describe the financial machinations of the financial world which, in the later half of the 19th century, was just beginning to become the complicated morass of stocks, securities, bonds, and corruption that became the volcano that erupted in 1929. It is difficult to read and understand, but he does tie it skillfully into the plot so that the reader must wade through it.
In the end, Cowperwood reminded me of Jonas Cord in The Carpetbaggers.
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I love it!!!! real story about little boy who wanted and knew how to be successful in the financial field.Read more