Next Up: An American Tragedy
Settle in, friends. This could be a long one.
It’s a beast at a little more than 900 pages.
An American Tragedy is based on a true story—the notorious Chester Gillette murder case in New York in 1906. The book follows Clyde Griffiths, the poor son of a street preacher, as he aspires to move out of poverty and make a name for himself—riding on the tails of his rich uncle. But he gets in over his head when he falls in love with a rich, society girl.
A little more about the book and its author, Theodore Dreiser:
- Published in 1925, An American Tragedy is based on the Chester Gillette murder case and subsequent trial in 1906.
- Several film versions of the novel have appeared on the big screen, the most recent being A Place In The Sun in 1951.
- A Place In The Sun won 6 Academy Awards and starred Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters, and Raymond Burr.
- An American Tragedy was the basis for an opera composed by Tobias Picker at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 2005.
- Literary critic Irving Howe called Dreiser “one of the very few American giants we have had.”
- About Dreiser, H.L. Mencken said, “All of us who writer are better off because he lived, worked, and hoped.”
- Dreiser passed away in 1945 at the age of 74.
What did Time say? “Clyde Griffiths is a young man with ambitions. He’s in love with a rich girl, but it’s a poor girl he has gotten pregnant, Roberta Alden, who works with him at his uncle’s factory. One day he takes Roberta canoeing on a lake with the intention of killing her. From there his fate is sealed. But by then Dreiser has made plain that Clyde’s fate was long before sealed by a brutal and cynical society.”
Having already started this book, I’ll say that Dreiser has a very mechanical style of writing. But his story has already drawn me in.
Any thoughts on An American Tragedy?