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An American Tragedy – Theodore Dreiser



Posted October 15, 2016 by

An American Tragedy – Theodore Dreiser – 1925


Reviewed by: Steven (Texas) Date: 25 August 2005

An American Tragedy shows the dark side of the classic “rags to riches” story. Clyde Griffiths is the son of a poor, itinerant preacher. He yearns for something more than the streets and missions of the Midwest, but, more than that, he feels that society somehow owes him something better. His rise to the fringes of polite society is based on deception as much as ability. Just when his dreams are within reach, he is trapped in the web of his own lies. Clyde sees murder as the only way out.

Despite its dry title, An American Tragedy is more than just readable; the novel’s tension builds to heart-pounding levels as the story reaches its climax. It’s also a very thoughtful study of personal guilt and the social consequences of a selfish culture. There are similarities to Stendhal’s The Red and the Black, Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and Richard Wright’s Native Son – if you liked any of these books, you’ll appreciate An American Tragedy.

ReadLit Team


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