Theodore Dreiser

January 5, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: History, World History
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Theodore Dreiser

---The Path-breaker of American Literature


Theodore Dreiser (18711945)

A pioneer of naturalism Dreiser has been a controversial figure in American literary history. His works are powerful in portrayal of the changing American life. He showed a new way of presenting reality and inspired the writers of the 1920s with courage and insight. It is in Dreiser’s works that American naturalism is said to have come of age. The greatest chronicler of American cities.

A pioneer of naturalism In the history of American literature, he is the first person who faithfully depicts the new American city life without prejudice. In his works, conventional morality is unimportant, virtuous behavior having little to do with material success and happiness. He played an important role in introducing a new realism and sexual candor into American fiction.

A pioneer of naturalism Dreiser had an enormous influence on the . generation that followed his. resemble Dreiser in technique or material John Steinbeck Norman Mailer

William Faulkner Ernest Hemingway

Literary Innovation 1.His first novel, Sister Carrie has been called the “greatest of all American urban novels.” Sister Carrie is frequently regarded as a turning point in American fiction. Firmly embedded in the realist tradition, the book’s simple yet serious naturalistic outlook emphasizes that human behavior results from instinct, self-interest, and social pressure and not from any sense of ethical responsibility. So this stance marks Sister Carrie as a departure from the conventional literature of the period.

Literary Innovation 2.His powerful frankness widens the social and sexual range possible for literature in America. In the early 20th century, the morals and virtues of the Victorian era still guided people’s actions. The public was shocked that Dreiser’s characters so openly participated in relationships.

Carrie uses sex to gain status for herself.

Literary Innovation 3. His novels are full of tragedies, serious subjects and miserable side of the society. Dreiser broke through the genteel tradition , revealed the life of the lower class people and dared to expose the vulgar and ugly side of the society. It’s he that changes American Fiction style from the Victorian and Howells-type timidity and gentleness to honesty, boldness and passion for life.

Literary Innovation 4.He embraced social Darwinism. He learned to regard man as merely an animal driven by greed in a struggle for existence in which only the fittest survive. Nature, not social ideas, has formed Carrie. She entrusts herself first to Drouet, then to Hurstwood. Circumstances and her desires for a better life direct her to the successful goal.

Literary Innovation Carrie is, by nature, not a bad girl. She is a product of the society, a realization of the theory that the fittest survive. If Carrie is the positive conviction of the theory that the fittest survive, then Hurstwood is negative evidence. His tragedy is the triumphs of the theory that the fittest survive.

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