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Sister Carrie [Paperback]

Theodore Dreiser , John C. Berkey , Charles D. Winters , James West , Alfred Kazin
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 3 1994 Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics
Unexpurgated version of Dreiser's story of a country girl's rise to riches as the mistress of a wealthy man.

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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 Gleason --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

"Dreiser`s early novel is probably his greatest, and one of the greatest American novels" --Irish Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When Caroline Meeber boarded the afternoon train for Chicago her total outfit consisted of a small trunk, which was checked in the baggage car, a cheap imitation alligator skin satchel holding some minor details of the toilet, a small lunch in a paper box and a yellow leather snap purse, containing her ticket, a scrap of paper with her sister's address in Van Buren Street, and four dollars in money. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greats July 18 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Okay, I'll admit it: I'm normally one to stick with the bestseller or current Oprah list suggestion; books like "The Da Vinci Code" or "The Bark of the Dogwood." And while those books were enjoyable, I will go back and visit (or re-visit) the "classics." Such is the case with "Sister Carrie." At first I was afraid this was going to be some turn-of-the-century, stodgy, "Oh, My! Look at that!" type of novel. Boy, was I wrong. This is one great book, and Dreiser not only gets down and dirty with the material, but presents it in a non-preachy way that will knock your socks off.
T.Dreiser is without a doubt, one of the most underappreciated authors ever to grace the American scene. This book is, or should be, on the same level as "To Kill A Mockingbird" or "Grapes of Wrath." I highly, highly, highly (can you tell I liked it?) recommend this book to you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars surprisingly engaging and fascinating May 10 2004
By asphlex
Format:Paperback
Sister Carrie is a lovely book. It tells a rather profound story--placed specifically in its time, which was of course the 'Modern Day' for the time it was written. As a result a book that was once a critical document of patterns of behavior of some of the author's contemporaries has become, for better or worse, an important historical chronical of the dangers of selfishness and uninhibited personal ambition. Oh, the story is no longer anything unfamiliar, but the grounding and the character studies make this book very affecting and, true to the ideals of its unfortunate literary designation of 'Naturalism' (a meaningless term which limits instead of explains a readers' expectation, much in the way that science-fiction or horror classify something as not necessisarily what it in fact is), this is a very believable and realistic story.
The writing itself, as other readers and critics throughout the past one hundred years or so have repeated when attempting to find fault with Sister Carrie, isn't the most impressive thing about the book. However, in its defense, the cut and dry, occasionally pasted on moments of philosophical conversation and the rugged and perhaps at times inconsistant speech patterns of the various characters somehow, for me, created an even more believable picture, zoning in on those people who attempt to speak both above and beneath their social class and educational backgrounds for either personal gain or in a futile effort to 'fit in'.
A wonderful book, because of its flaws, in fact, that reads like a quick-paced and absorbing tale always on the verge of tragedy. That tension, that what-will-happen-next feeling pervades throughout the book and concludes by providing quite an impact indeed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Read it for English class... May 8 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In my English 3 honors class, we had to pick a novel out of a list, and then do a big project on it. I chose this book, because the summary that my teacher gave me made it look very interesting. This book took me so long to read, but I still enjoyed it! It ends totally different from the how it starts and there was no way to predict what was going to happen. I'd heard that this book was banned by some when it came out, I didn't find it offensive at all. Maybe women were'nt allowed to have affairs back then?! Overall, I enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to any book lover!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy classic April 24 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Sometimes you are told to read a book because it is a classic and then it turns out to be really awful. 'Sister Carrie' is a classic, written in 1900. And it still is...
it is the great story of Carrie, a Midwestern girl who moves to Chicago, moves in with a man, gets stolen in a way by someone else and moves to New York. It is a story about wealth and poverty and many opposites. She makes her own life, starts out poor and living with her sister to becoming a succesful Broadway star while her husband in NY ends poor and eventually commits suicide.
I didn't like it as much as 'An American Tragedy' but it is still very good.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting glimpse into history Jan. 1 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is an interesting commentary on class relations at the beginning of the 20th century. Having been written at the time, I never got the impression that the author was stretching to capture the ethos of the period. The story of a girl leaving home life to escape poverty and experiencing many changes is one that can also be seen in Hardy's Tess D'Ubervilles and Shaw's Pigmalion. In fact, the author was influenced by those authors. The evolution of the characters is delicately written and extremely convincing. My one complaint would be that the characters are somewhat transparent in terms of their emotions and desires.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic of American Naturalism Nov. 3 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Wow. I can't believe how many reviews have been written about this book!
I would recommend this book to people interested in the concept of the city. Although its notoriety stems from its "naturalistic" depiction of the characters, I thought it was the depcition of the urban environment of Chicago and New York which stood out.
While the intertwined fates of Carrie, Drouet and Hurstwood occupy the foreground of this book, I found myself consistently drawn to the back ground.
Since Dreiser came up as a newspaperman, this makes a certain amount of sense.
The details that Dreiser includes about the day-to-day life in the big city at the turn of the century were worth the price of admission, so to speak. The plot of the novel, concerning Carrie and her rise and fall and rise, was less notable, as far as I'm concerned.
This is not a short book, and some of the economic turmoil suffered by the characters tapped in to a larger well spring of fear and anxiety about social status that many Americans(including myself) share.
While not what I would call a "fun" read, it is fairly light, and certainly worthwhile.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Yes, but not the Greatest One
Sister Carrie is a serious, thoughtful look at the role of money in the lives of men and women at the turn of the century. Read more
Published on May 16 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Sister Carrie
Classic story of small town girl comes to the big city to make her fortune. Written in the same realistic style that Dreisser used in An American Tragedy, Sister Carrie offers more... Read more
Published on May 4 2003 by "cmerrell"
4.0 out of 5 stars After you think about it
I finished it last weekend, it is not that difficult to read word wise but after you read it you have to digest all they Dreiser is saying. Read more
Published on April 7 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Only 1/2 Way done....
When reading booklists (one of my fav. hobbies) I came across this title and the review was somthing like a lover's life rises as her partner (Drouet) declines. Read more
Published on April 4 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Our Depressing Fiasco of a Country
When I finished reading Theodore Dreiser's 1900 novel, "Sister Carrie," I wrote in the margin, "We live in a depressing fiasco of a country. Read more
Published on March 3 2003 by mp
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than I expected
I sometimes fear that novels heralded as "classics" may have been great in their time, but no longer have as much wallop. Read more
Published on June 22 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Version of Anna Karenina
This equisite novel quickly worked its way onto my favorite books of all time list, ranking among Anna Karenina. Read more
Published on June 14 2002 by "melee82"
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