An American Tragedy

An American Tragedy

eBook - 2010
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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 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.
Publisher: [United States] : RosettaBooks, 2010
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file
Additional Contributors: hoopla digital
ISBN: 9780795311512
0795311516

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Cecilturtle
May 05, 2013

Despite its length, this novel captures the attention from beginning to end. The impetuous, sometimes melodramatic, style keeps the reader turning the pages: good time entertainment to be sure! This book, however, is much more. While it could have easily been a soap opera by modern standards, Dreiser's messages on social struggles and discrepancies, religion and the justice system makes this novel a powerful critique which gives it its timelessness. I found that the entire trial was extremely modern in content and form, and I was actually surprised to see such an overt and compelling argument against the death penalty (maybe it's just my reading). This is definitely an example of pathos well rendered, an attempt at showing the emotions behind the bars as opposed to the judgement and righteousness of institutions.
Overall, I found that this book is still relevant both as a literary enjoyment and as a piece of social criticism for issues that are still on-going today.

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fred98115
Jul 04, 2011

Clyde Griffiths, protagonist of this classic novel, is a weak, incompetent, amoral young man who pursues the American dream with disastrous results. He reaches for social status and wealth, but all crashes about him after he drowns his lover and their unborn child. Caught, convicted, and sentenced to death by the electric chair, his life is a tragedy. Dreiser explores the process in a very long book that has a plehtora of tedious detail and exposition. Read it once, maybe, but not twice.

diesellibrarian Nov 29, 2010

A classic of American Naturalism. Made into a worthy film version starring Elizabeth Taylor - I believe the film was called "A Place in the Sun." A difficult but rewarding read.

a
alexy93
Aug 06, 2010

Standing Ovation!!

If Dreiser's message in An American Tragedy can be summed up in a sentence, it is: the American Dream is an illusion. In America, it is said, a person's circumstances at birth place no limit on his or her potential; people can make of themselves whatever they choose and rise as high as they are willing to climb. According to Dreiser the destiny of a human being results from hereditary, environmental, economic, social, and fatalistic forces that act upon him. Clyde Griffiths attempts to break free of these forces but fails.

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FavouriteFiction Sep 30, 2009

Clyde Griffiths, an unsophisticated son of a preacher, goes out into the world looking for success.

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