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
Why this is supposedly a classic is beyond me. The writing is poor stylistically and the novel is a bore. It takes Dreiser 800 pages to do what should have been done in 300. I cannot recommend this and don't know if I can force myself to go on to Sister Carrie if it's going to be more of the same. There is a naivety of style and theme, couple with a simpleness of style and language and an overall inelegance of style. When compared to other works of similar time frame it has little to offer. (Gatsby, Sun Also Rises etc.) Irving Howe trying to defend the novel says, "...crushing the English language beneath a leaden embrace...As a philosopher Dreiser can often be tiresome...the prose in these early novels is often as wretched as unsympathetic critics have said...the prose, while quite as clotted and ungainly as in the past.." I whole heartedly agree, and this was the assessment of a critic trying to convince you to read the novel. And the narrator is so slow I put playback on 2x and then it sounded like he was reading at a normal pace and I missed nothing. Got through it in a week at 2x and was glad it was over.
Only it they had plenty of time on their hands.
The young man kept making the same mistakes, over and over.
Only it it were abridged.
This was originally published as three volumes. The first one would have been adequate.
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