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Sister Carrie (1900) is a novel by Theodore Dreiser about a young country girl who moves to the big city where she starts realizing her own American Dream by first becoming a mistress to men that she perceives as superior and later as a famous actress.
Dreiser and his wife significantly altered the original manuscript to make it more palatable to the prevailing sensibilities of the day, but even this toned down version caused a minor scandal, and Dreiser had difficulty finding a publisher for it. This was due to the blurred division line between good and bad in the plot. Although Dreiser's moralizing narrator does assert that, despite the fame and the money she has amassed, Carrie will not be able to achieve peace of mind in her life, the apparent lack of poetic justice - the notion that immorality should lead to some form of punishment in the end - was a concept the reading public were altogether unused to at the time. Between 1900 and 1980, all editions of the novel were of the altered version. Not until 1981 did Dreiser's unaltered version appear when the University of Pennsylvania Press issued a scholarly edition based upon the original manuscript held by The New York Public Library. It is a reconstruction by a team of leading scholars to represent the novel before it was edited by hands other than Dreiser's. [This version is the altered version.] (Quote from wikipedia.org)
About the Author
Dreiser, Theodore Herman Albert (1871 - 1945)
Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser (August 27, 1871 - December 28, 1945) was an American author of the naturalist school, known for dealing with the gritty reality of life.
He was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, to Sarah and John Paul Dreiser, a strict Baptist. John Paul Dreiser was a German immigrant and Sarah was fr
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Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser's revolutionary first novel, was published in 1900--sort of. The story of Carrie Meeber, an 18-year-old country girl who moves to Chicago and becomes a kept woman, was strong stuff at the turn of the century, and what Dreiser's wary publisher released was a highly expurgated version. Times change, and we now have a restored "author's cut" of Sister Carrie that shows how truly ahead of his time Dreiser was. First and foremost, he has written an astute, nonmoralizing account of a woman and her limited options in late-19th-century America. That's impressive in and of itself, but Dreiser doesn't stop there. Digging deeply into the psychological underpinnings of his characters, he gives us people who are often strangers to themselves, drifting numbly until fate pushes them on a path they can later neither defend nor even remember choosing.
Dreiser's story unfolds in the measured cadences of an earlier era. This sometimes works brilliantly as we follow the choices, small and large, that lead some characters to doom and others to glory. On the other hand, the middle chapters--of which there are many--do drag somewhat, even when one appreciates Dreiser's intentions. If you can make it through the sagging midsection, however, you'll be rewarded by Sister Carrie's last 150 pages, which depict the harrowing downward spiral of one of the book's central characters. Here Dreiser portrays with brutal power how the wrong decision--or lack of decision--can lay waste to a life. --Rebecca GleasonFrom the Publisher:
Theodore Dreiser had a hardscrabble youth and the years of newspaper work behind him when he began his first novel, Sister Carrie, the story of a beautiful Midwestern girl who makes it big in New York City. Published by Doubleday in 1900, it gained a reputation as a shocker, for Dreiser had dared to give the public a heroine whose "cosmopolitan standard of virtue" brings her from Wisconsin, with four dollars in her purse, to a suite at the Waldorf and glittering fame as an actress. With Sister Carrie, the original manuscript of which is in the New York Public Library collections, Dreiser told a tale not "sufficiently delicate" for many of its first readers and critics, but which is now universally recognized as one of the greatest and most influential American novels.
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