Theodore Dreiser's Collection
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1. Sister Carrie 
2. Jennie Gerhardt 
3. The Financier 
4. The Titan 
5. An American Tragedy 
About the Author
Theodore Dreiser, 1871-1945Theodore Dreiser was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, the ninth of ten children. His parents were poor. In the 1860s his father, a devout Catholic German immigrant, had attempted to establish his own woolen mill, but after it was destroyed in a fire, the family lived in poverty. Dreiser's schooling was erratic, as the family moved from town to town. He left home when he was 16 and worked at whatever jobs he could find. With the help of his former teacher, he was able to spend the year 1889-1890 at Indiana University. Dreiser left after only a year. He was, however, a voracious reader, and the impact of such writers as Hawthorne, Poe, Balzac, Herbert Spencer, and Freud influenced his thought and his reaction against organized religion.
In 1892 Dreiser started to write for the Chicago Globe, and moved to a better position with the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. During this period he wrote the short story 'N****r Jeff', probably based on a lynching he witnessed. The story was published in Ainslee, a small monthly journal, and collected in FREE AND OTHER STORIES (1918).
In 1898 Dreiser married Sara White, a Missouri schoolteacher, but the marriage was unhappy. Dreiser separated permanently from her in 1909, but never earnestly sought a divorce. In his own life Dreiser practised his principle that man's greatest appetite is sexual - the desire for women led him to carry on several affairs at once. While in Kentucky reporting on coal miners' strike, he was charged with adultery. His relationship with Yvette Szekely Eastman is recorded in Dearest Wilding by Yvette Eastman (1995) - she was 16 and Dreiser 40 years older when they met.
As a novelist Dreiser made his debut with Sister Carrie, a powerful account of a young working girl's rise to success and her slow decline. "She was eighteen years of age, bright, timid and full of the illusions of ignorance and youth. Whatever touch of regret at parting characterized her thoughts it was certainly not for advantages now being given up. A gush of tears at her mother's farewell kiss, a touch in the throat when the cars clacked by the flour mill where her father worked by the day, a pathetic sigh as the familiar green environs of the village passed in review, and the threads which bound her so lightly to girlhood and home were irretrievably broken." (from the 1981 edition) The president of the publishing company, Frank Doubleday, disapproved of the work - Dreiser illuminated the flaws of his characters but did not judge them and allowed vice to be rewarded instead of punished. No attempt was made to promote the book. Sister Carrie was reissued in 1907 and it became one of the most famous novels in literary history. Among its admirers was H.L. Mencken, an aspiring journalist, whom Dreiser had hired as a ghost-writer in his paper. William Wyler's film version, starring Laurence Olivier and Jennifer Jones, was made at the height of the Cold War and McCarthy era. Paramount executives delayed the releasing of the film - they thought the picture was not good for America and it was a flop. "It was a depressing story", said Wyler, "and it might not have been a success anyway."
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