AN American Tragedy Mass Market Paperback – Aug 7 2000
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Top Customer Reviews
Although this book is by far the saddest I have ever read, I nevertheless consider it truly sensational, in the sense that in retelling "the tragedy" based on the real-life event, the author also fills its every page with the concerns that have forever confronted the human heart.
Raw, sinister and full-fledged suffering lurks just beneath the surface of this book's text, and it moved me to tears.
What is "American" about this tragedy? I think the answer resides in Clyde's aspirations, their impact on all he touches, and the impact of the his past on the drive to dream fulfillment. Once Roberta has drown, Clyde swims to the shore of the lake, a new immigrant, a young man on the verge of what he hopes will be a new and glamorous world. It is, as one critic described, a vapid world, but it is what he wants nonethless. Behind him, at the bottom of that lake, rests his past -- a world of poverty, a world without opportunity, the world of his childhood. He came to that Lake with the intention of killing Roberta, but was spared the trouble. She fell overboard and all he had to do was nothing, simply let mom and baby sink, while he swims quietly to shore. But the past is not so easily shed. It sticks to him and ultimately brings him to trial for his actions, or his failure to act, and his intent to kill.Read more ›
The book closely follows the life of Clyde Griffiths, a weak individual who seems to have no will of his own. The author tries to portray the main character as a cog with no freedom in society. This theme of Naturalism gives too much weight to the influence of genetics and environment. In reality, the main character made awful decision that were deserving of punishment.
The story was very interesting, and I found myself getting angry at the main character as he made poor (tragic) choices. At times, the book was slow because of the descriptive style. But overall the book was interesting, and shows the American tragedy.
The 1920s setting is full of social and economic inequities and demonstrates how individuals struggle against the rigid lines often drawn in a capitalist society.
Overall, a good book to glimpse at life in the early 20th century and to watch the slow unraveling of a soul. It also forces the reader to confront issues such as guilt, responsibility, fairness and intention.
While the first half of the book is gripping, the second book is overwritten and becomes boring at times. Also, the protagonist's changes in character sometimes seem to occur too rapidly or unexpectedly to be realistic.
Worth a read to become acquainted with Dreiser's style.
The social barriers between the poor and the (new) rich, the tugging materialism, and an underlying puritanism made up the social fabric around which Dreiser recreated Clyde Griffiths as Gillette and Roberta Alden as Brown. Driven by their human impulses and then trapped by social and moral prejudices, the outcome was a monumental tragedy of wasted young lives for both characters.
This novel is long (over 800 pages), and the writing style is torturous. It could probably be more appreciated for its social-historical value than as 'classic literature'. If you haven't read anything by Dreiser previously, you may want to try 'Sister Carrie' before tackling this one.
Most recent customer reviews
This book was recommended to me by a Russian friend who said that Dreiser had been popular in the Soviet Union. I could immediately see why. Read morePublished on June 4 2004 by J. Jacobs
Just a note, no one here has mentioned that this is based on a true event that took place in Herkimer county in 1906 I believe.Published on March 26 2004 by Laurel
The film "A Simple Plan" could have easily been called "An American Tragedy," and the book "An American Tragedy" could have just as easily been called... Read morePublished on Jan. 6 2004 by brewster22
Yes, it is a very long book over 800 pages; yes it is definitely an American classic; yes, it is an tragedy; but whether it is a portrait of the dark side of the American Dream is... Read morePublished on Nov. 25 2003 by Robert Wynkoop
As a writer, this book stands as a shining example of perfect prose. Because of his descriptions, you as the reader are able to get a very clear and accurate picture of every... Read morePublished on Nov. 20 2003
Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945) is one of the giants of American letters. His novel "Sister Carrie," written in 1900, is a cathedral of naturalist literature. Read morePublished on July 5 2003 by Jeffrey Leach