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An American Tragedy (Library of America #140) [Hardcover]

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Item description for An American Tragedy (Library of America #140) by Theodore Dreiser & Thomas P. Riggio...

The author's classic vision of the dark side of American life looks at the failings of the American dream, in the story of the rise and fall of Clyde Griffiths, who sacrifices everything in his desperate quest for success.

Publishers Description
A tremendous bestseller when it was published in 1925, An American Tragedy is the culmination of Theodore Dreiser's elementally powerful fictional art. Taking as his point of departure a notorious murder case of 1910, Dreiser immersed himself in the social background of the crime to produce a book that is both a remarkable work of reportage and a monumental study of character. Few novels have undertaken to track so relentlessly the process by which an ordinary young man becomes capable of committing a ruthless murder, and the further process by which social and political forces come into play after his arrest.

In Clyde Griffiths, the impoverished, restless offspring of a family of street preachers, Dreiser created an unforgettable portrait of a man whose circumstances and dreams of self-betterment conspire to pull him toward an act of unforgivable violence. Around Clyde, Dreiser builds an extraordinarily detailed fictional portrait of early twentieth-century America, its religious and sexual hypocrisies, its economic pressures, its political corruption. The sheer prophetic amplitude of his bitter truth-telling, in idiosyncratic prose of uncanny expressive power, continues to mark Dreiser as a crucially important American writer. An American Tragedy, the great achievement of his later years, is a work of mythic force, at once brutal and heartbreaking.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   950
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 5.25" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   1.36 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 10, 2003
Publisher   Library of America
ISBN  1931082316  
ISBN13  9781931082310  

Availability  0 units.

More About Theodore Dreiser & Thomas P. Riggio

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! 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.

Theodore Dreiser lived in Hollywood, in the state of California. Theodore Dreiser was born in 1871 and died in 1945.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( D ) > Dreiser, Theodore
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Classics
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States
7Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > General
8Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery > General

Reviews - What do customers think about An American Tragedy (Library of America #140)?

Welcome To The Machine  Sep 25, 2008
A long, labourious read, this. One reviewer has commented that Dreiser leaves no stone unturned. I would put it rather that he leaves no pebble unturned. The book, as far as prose style is concerned is - to be quite frank - an ugly book. Even Dreiser's admirers here and elsewhere admit this.

Nevertheless, the book, a bildungsroman of the character Clyde Griffiths, leaves one, regardless of how erudite and well-read one is, unsettled and disturbed. Unlike Eugene Gant in Look Homeward, Angel or Phillip Carey in Of Human Bondage or Stephen Daedalus in A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man, Clyde is not particularly artistic or intellectual - or, really, particularly much of anything. This makes for, along with Dreiser's, at times, simply horrid prose, a book with which one feels one ought not to bother at several points along the way. Personally, for instance, I think that the whole third "book" should be at least halved.

But, as H.L. Mencken says in the Introduction to my copy of the book, the fatalism deeply engrained in the sinews of the work is what makes it what it is. At the end - actually well before it - one can't imagine things turning out any differently than they do. But as we read the final pages, thoughtful readers will reach the unsettling conclusion that they are not immune to a plight such as Clyde's, that had things gone differently at a certain point in their lives, had the wheels turned a bit more slowly or more swiftly, they might well (if they have had any life at all in them somewhere along the way) found themselves in Clyde's predicament. Ultimately, then, the work is not an indictment of America or its materialism, as almost all reviews posit; it is an indictment of life itself. It is an unpleasant yet powerful read.

classic American epic, tragic and compelling  May 8, 2008
Dreiser's masterpiece, An American Tragedy is a thick novel, divided by the author into three books not just for length but for content.

The first book sets up Clyde Griffith's and his background, showing how he longed to do better for himself than what he perceived his parents had done. He wanted bright lights, money, easy living - and it seems he is heading that way after he makes a break from the family, working for a hotel. This books ends abruptly with the first physical tragedy, sending Clyde running away as he will run away from future troubles.

The second book is the heart of this novel, in my opinion. Clyde's ever desperate attempts to ingratiate himself upon his social betters, to use the Griffith's name for all it is worth, while at the same time secreting his affair with Roberta, is wrenching fiction. You both loathe his weaknesses and understand his passions. Dreiser exposes the hollowness of Clyde's views and aspirations with prose that is just as accessible as a modern novel.

The third book went a little slower for me, with near constant re-hashing of the events from the second, in particular the final episodes on the lake. However, this isn't without merit - it is needed to bring the reader to understand Clyde's state of mind, and how he comes to address these issues with the Reverend, his mother and most importantly himself.

An American Tragedy is entertaining as drama, and enlightening to the human condition. It deserves recognition as Dreiser's ultimate work.
great book  Feb 20, 2008
i loved this book and for the dumbest reason, i didn't want to finish the book, only because i knew what was going to happen. i didn't think the prose was long and windy, rather i found it beautifully written. perhaps one of the most beautifully written book i've ever read..
American Society, Dissected  Feb 19, 2008
This novel provides an engrossing view of American society in the early 1900s by following the partial rise and complete downfall of Clive Griffiths. The examination of Griffiths's life offers comments on poverty, wealth, religion, politics and morality. Griffiths is truly a flawed hero, and the reader will have trouble finding sympathy for him despite his deprived background. His greatest sin is that he is never satisfied; he always wants more. In the end he discovers that "more" comes at great cost to himself and those who care for him.
PONDEROUS  Sep 24, 2007
Wow, what a ponderous read! I know this was the era of yellow journalism and sensationalistic literature, but OMIGOD, this could've been reduced to 1/3 its length with the removal of superfluous adjectives!

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