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This epic of class, ambition, and murder in the early twentieth century is " a] masterpiece...America's Crime and Punishment" (Kirkus Reviews). Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy is the story of a weak-willed young man who is both a villain and a victim of the valueless, materialistic society around him. Inspired by the true story of an early twentieth-century murder and adapted into a classic film under the title A Place in the Sun, An American Tragedy follows Clyde Griffiths as he is drawn into a circle of wealthy friends despite his own poverty-stricken background. Leaving the needs of his family behind as he buys expensive presents to impress a rich girl, Clyde finds that his new life leads him into a tragedy born of recklessness. Yet he continues to yearn ambitiously for money and status--a desire that will be his downfall. "Dreiser is widely regarded as the strongest of the novelists who have written about America as a business civilization. No one else confronted so directly the sheer intractability of American social life and institutions."--The New Yorker
About the Author
Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser (1871-1945) was an American novelist and journalist best known for his pioneer work in the naturalist school. His writing often portrays characters whose strength lies not in their moral code or ethics, but instead in their absolute persistence as they are confronted by all obstacles; their unwillingness to yield. These are situations that more closely resemble studies of nature than tales of choice and agency. Dreiser's first commercial success was An American Tragedy (1925), which was made into a film in 1931 and again in 1951 (as A Place in the Sun). Literary critic Irving Howe said of Dreiser that he was, among the American giants, one of the very few American giants we have had, and one of Dreiser's chief advocates during his lifetime was H.L. Mencken who said, that he is a great artist, and that no other American of his generation left so wide and handsome a mark upon the national letters.