Enjoy millions of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and more

Only $11.99/month after trial. Cancel anytime.

An American Tragedy

An American Tragedy

Written by Theodore Dreiser

Narrated by Dan Miller


An American Tragedy

Written by Theodore Dreiser

Narrated by Dan Miller

ratings:
4/5 (39 ratings)
Length:
34 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jul 19, 2011
ISBN:
9781452671895
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

Description

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.
Publisher:
Released:
Jul 19, 2011
ISBN:
9781452671895
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

About the author

The Indiana-born Dreiser (1871-1945) has never cut a dashing or romantic swath through American literature. He has no Pulitzer or Nobel Prize to signify his importance. Yet he remains for myriad reasons: his novels are often larger than life, rugged, and defy the norms of conventional morality and organized religion. They are unapologetic in their sexual candor--in fact, outrightly frank--and challenge even modern readers. The brooding force of Dreiser’ s writing casts a dark shadow across American letters. Here in <i>An American Tragedy</i>, Dreiser shows us the flip side of The American Dream in a gathering storm that echoes with all of the power and force of Dostoevsky’ s <i>Crime and Punishment</i>. Inspired by the writings of Balzac and the ideas of Spenser and Freud, Dreiser went on to become one of America’ s best naturalist writers. <i>An American Tragedy</i> is testimony to the strength of Dreiser’ s work: it retains all of its original intensity and force.



Reviews

What people think about An American Tragedy

4.1
39 ratings / 22 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Tremendously detailed story of the entire life, quest and failure of a young American man in the early part of the 20th century. Vivid, detailed descriptions of his working life as a bellhop in a Kansas City hotel, and then in his uncle's upstate New York collar (!) factory are fascinating and informative. His search for a foothold in what he perceives as the glittering social life of the industrial elite, partying in the lakes and towns around Albany and Saratoga, is utterly convincing and pathetic. His motivations throughout the book are twisted, but at the same time quite understandable. The murder of his working class lover, his confusion and bungled attempts to escape afterwards, the twists and turns of his trial and his religious confusion before his execution are all convincingly laid out in thorough detail. Although Dreiser is no stylist, I found this book compelling, moving and a fine examination of the struggle of one man determined to grasp the American Dream at any cost.
  • (4/5)
    The character study of Clyde Griffits is captivating but he never does seem to reslove his quilt. Never acknowledges his child which was also part of the murder. It's whole different era but still a fasinating story.
  • (4/5)
    Book Circle Reads 24Rating: 3.5* of fiveThe Book Description: On one level An American Tragedy is the story of the corruption and destruction of one man, Clyde Griffiths, who forfeits his life in desperate pursuit of success. On a deeper, more profound level, however, the novels represents a massive portrayal of the society whose values both shape Clyde's tawdry ambitions and seal his fate. Clyde Griffiths is a young man, from the poor branch of his family but with ambitions of making the big-time; and seeks a start in his rich uncle's factory. He gets a poor girl pregnant, Roberta Alden, who works with him at the factory; but then something better turns up in the form of a rich girl, offering a much better future. Meeting the rich girl at a family function at his uncle's home makes him suddenly regret getting involved with Roberta, and he feels trapped. He takes Roberta canoeing on a lake with the intention of pushing her into the water, changes his mind at the last moment, but she falls into the lake and drowns...and he can never prove that it wasn't what he had planned. His fate is sealed, he is found guilty of murder. A dramatic story, it was based on a real life murder trial of the 1920s, and the success of Dreiser's novel saw it made into a film in the 1950s -- A Place in the Sun, which starred Montgomery Clift, Shelley Winters and Elizabeth Taylor.My Review: Watch the movie. The "novel" is bloated and Dreiser's prose is as wooden as a plank.
  • (4/5)
    American Tragedy is your typical 1920s story about the folly of chasing the American dream except that it is also a psychological novel about committing murder. It's like Crime and Punishment and The Great Gatsby except that it is not quite as good as either one. Dreiser reminds me of Dickens in that his prose is excessively wordy and repetitive. This actually turns out to be a good thing. It enables us to really get to know his characters as people and evokes sympathy for them. It becomes easy to put yourself into their shoes and really experience everything that happens in the novel, including what it is like to plans and commit murder.The story is about Clyde Griffiths, a poor son of two street preachers, and is based on a true crime. Griffiths wants nothing more than to be somebody, a common theme in American literature. In doing so, he comes in contact with a host of characters on his way up. Some of these characters are likable and others are not. Several obstacles stand in his way of overcoming his humble beginnings, but the greatest of which is his own weakness and propensity to make bad decisions. In the end, I found myself rooting for Clyde to at least gain some sort of redemption despite the fact that I really hated him throughout most of the book. That is probably the greatest compliment that I could pay Dreiser for this novel. His main character was human enough that he really cannot be portrayed as good or evil. He simply was, and that made for a very enjoyable tragedy.
  • (3/5)
    An epically long look at the life of Clyde Griffiths, an ambitious young man who wants to escape the poverty of his youth and replace it with wealthy, prestige, and social status. Along the way, he becomes entangles in the "dark side of the American Dream."I am starting to loose faith in the Modern Library's ability to choose so-called "great" books. While I think a truly great book goes beyond just entertainment to where it makes the reader think or expands their point of view, I don't see why so many "classics of great literature" have to insist on a kind of dark drudgery. Dreiser, for example, rehashes scenes, dialog, events multiple times, and maybe that's necessary in a book that involves a trial and thus requires multiple interpretations of the same events. However, I really think this book could have done with an editor to hack away all the superfluous repetition that beleaguers the point at every turn. (I almost gave up at a couple of points, but each time figured, welp, I got this far. I may as well see it through.)And yet, I didn't out right hate the book, because even though Clyde is greedy, selfish, and in all rights rather unlikeable, I found it interesting that even as I came to realize just how awful a human being he is, I also found myself siding with him against the law and society that also wasn't all that likable (though for entirely different reasons). So there are definitely some interesting complexities there. I suppose the only "good" character in the whole book is Clyde's mother, an unordained preacher whose entire faith lies with God, which isn't surprising as Dreiser's message seems to be that people need to give up the selfish and destructive pursuit of things and seek a simpler more godly life. Definitely not a favorite.
  • (4/5)
    - Clyde Griffiths is a young man with ambition. From the start of this novel when he is a young boy from a poor but devout family he is both on the run and doomed. In over his head with problems that stick to him like honey he leaves Kansas City and arrives in New York, and before long he is 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 and doom is once again on the horizon. But by then Dreiser has made plain that Clyde's fate was long before sealed by a brutal and cynical society. - The usual criticism of Dreiser is that, line for line, he's the weakest of the great American novelists. And it's true that he takes a journalist's approach to writing, joining workmanlike sentences one to the other. His prose is repetitive at times, but he slowly builds a powerful network of words, sentences and paragraphs with a natural vitality flowing through them. The first time I read this novel I was still in high school during my Dreiser and Hardy phase. Hardy wears better over the years, but both remain powerful for the attentive reader.