An American Tragedy is the story of Clyde Griffiths, who spends his life in the desperate pursuit of success. On a deeper, more profound level, it is the masterful portrayal of the society whose values both shape Clyde's ambitions and seal his fate; it is an unsurpassed depiction of the harsh realities of American life and of the dark side of the American dream. Extraordinary in scope and power, vivid in its sense of wholesale human waste, unceasing in its rich compassion, An American Tragedy stands as Theodore Dreiser's supreme achievement.
First published in 1925 and based on an actual criminal case, An American Tragedy was the inspiration for the 1951 film A Place in the Sun, which won six Academy Awards and starred Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift.
©1925 Theodore Dreiser (P)2011 Tantor
Though most of the factory girls who make our clothes are now overseas, Dreiser's themes of social inequality, evangelical Christianity, the death penalty, and access to birth control and abortion are disquietingly familiar today. Dreiser (who partied with anarchist Emma Goldman) is sensitive and unsparing in his exploration of these issues. Protagonist Clyde Griffiths would probably make the list of "fifty boyfriends worse than yours," but narrator Dan John Miller gives him the necessary charm to make his story credible. The book drags a bit near the end, but is memorable overall.
I would listen to this book again. I really enjoyed the story. I particularly appreciate the fact that Dreiser had the courage to have an anti-hero play the main character in the story. The plot completely surprised me.
I enjoy listening to stories that completly catch me off guard, especially when they are realistic. This book in particular achieved this.
Miller is a good narrator. His reading fit the story.
I listen to books at work on a daily basis - I would look forward to listening to this book so I could find out what would happen next. There were many lines in the book that made me laugh out loud.
An american Tragedy and Sister Carrie (also by Dreiser) are excellent books. I will listen to other books by Theodore Dreiser
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
I found this book funny on almost every page. Not ha-ha funny, but a mild warm sardonic funny. This is not a classic tragedy of fate directing the characters to untimely deaths, instead, through an unbiased narrator, we see nature simply take its course without morality or judgment or even meaning, towards untimely death. The narrator seems not to be God, but some neutral naturalistic viewer of all the characters and situations, and from this perspective everything, including death, may seem funny.
If you don’t see the very subtle humor in this novel early on, it will likely seem tediously long and slow, as the novel follows the main character’s developing motivations, beliefs, and actions as they slowly and inevitability, unfold. This powerful inevitability reminds me of Russia writers, as such inevitability is rare in American novels. As I saw the silliness of the character’s choices (which will certainly lead to unpleasant consequences) I felt compassion, yet I had to chuckle.
The characters are very well developed, even the very minor characters, yet I related more with the narrator than any of the characters, and the story was, of course, predictable. I was moved by this writing and think I will be affected by the undercurrents of this novel for quite some time to come.
The narration was flawless, using subtle tones of voice to reflect the subtle inconsistencies and indecision within the characters.
I'm open to any book as long as it is true to itself.
This book is exceptionally long. I was daunted by the length, but found it utterly compelling. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The minutiae of the writing reveals much about the historical period. This is very different from the movie adaptation "A Place in the Sun" which softens the story. The author does not tell you how to feel about the characters and the events, leaving you to make up your own mind. This is emotionally moving and an excellent story. Narration is also excellent.
Business Physicist and Astronomer
Great story, perfectly delivered. Add to your top 100 list of all-time great pieces of literature.
I highly recommend this book.
This book had me glued to my seat on the subway. I knew what was going to happen, but the transformation of the main character from an easygoing victim of circumstance to a reluctant murderer was fascinating.
My favorite character was Roberta Alden whom I felt sorry for and who epitomized for me the tragedy of this book. Clyde Griffiths was too flawed a character for me to consider tragic.
The narrator did a great job with Clyde and Roberta, but also was outstanding with the district attourney and Roberta's father. His voice is able to pinpoint the role of the character. I haven't even finished this book, but so far every character is portrayed with authenticity.
It is too big for one sitting, but whenever I had spare time, my mp3 player was on to this book.
By all means, buy the book from audible. Dreiser may have some shortcomings with his prose. He is not as elegant as Trollope, but the narrator brings it right to the emotions. My best books in audible are those that get me emotionally stirred whether joyfully or sadly. This is one of those books.
Clyde Griffiths, an ambitious social climber with grave personal flaw, fell in and out of love with an adoring factory girl, but has to abandon his moral anchor when the opportunity of fortune and status avail itself in the affection of an upper-class dame. Affectingly developed characters, biographical realism and a simple, linear yet encompassing plot line lend this fiction its masterpiece mantle.
Dan John Miller gave a titillating narrating performance.
Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.
You really get inside the characters heads. You know what they are thinking, feeling and planning.
The ambitious but immature Clyde Griffiths infatuation for Hortense Briggs is the start of his downfall. I could relate to his situation when this happen and it really 'rang a bell' for me.
Easy to read, a pleasure to listen to, the writing stands out as exemplars of pathos in modern literature. This book should be studied for students of literature for many years.
I think, it's a very good book and a great audiobook but tragic.
Also I disliked some of it, I was constantly captivated by it.
Narrator is amazingly good.
75 yr old MWF. I like historical novels with more history than story. Audiobooks shouldn't have too many characters.
In high school we were told that this novel ranked with Moby Dick as "THE Great American Novel." I'm glad I finally got to it in my old age! Well, Moby Dick may be a greater novel, but it is much harder to read. This book flows and unfolds like a soap opera and really held my interest to the end. Dan John Miller is a wonderful reader. He can do voices -- children, regional accents, and is able to give each character a different voice. I highly recommend this novel.
The hero of the book is Clyde, and this book is a sort of coming-of-age for him. Hwe seems all too real as he changes from the obedient son of a street preacher into a ruthless man. That may be a spoiler, so I don't want to say any more.
yes, but it is a long one!
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