Jennie Gerhardt

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Penguin Books, 1994 - Fiction - 428 pages
2 Reviews
Jennie Gerhardt was Theodore Dreiser's second novel and his first true commercial success. Today it is generally regarded as one of his three best novels, along with Sister Carrie and An American Tragedy. But the text of Jennie Gerhardt heretofore known to readers is quite different from the text as Dreiser originally wrote it. In the tradition of the University of Pennsylvania Dreiser Edition, James L. W. West III has recaptured the text as it was originally written, restoring it to its complete, unexpurgated form. As submitted to Harper and Brothers in 1911, Jennie Gerhardt was a powerful study of a woman tragically compromised by birth and fate. Harpers agreed to publish the book but was nervous about its subject matter and moral stance. Jennie has an illegitimate child by one man and lives out of wedlock with another - but Dreiser does not condemn her for her behavior. As a requirement for publication, Harpers insisted on cutting and revising the text. Although Dreiser fought against many of the cuts and succeeded in restoring some material, Harpers shortened the text by 16,000 words and completely revised its style and tone. These changes ultimately transformed Jennie Gerhardt from a blunt, carefully documented work of social realism to a touching love story merely set against a social background. Passages critical of organized religion and of the institution of marriage were reduced and altered. Perhaps most important, Jennie's point of view - her innate romantic mysticism - was largely edited out of the text. As a consequence, the central dialectic of the novel was skewed and the narrative thrown out of balance.

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User Review  - krbrancolini - LibraryThing

Decades before he became the acclaimed author of "An American Tragedy," Theodore Dreiser wrote two controversial novels based on the lives of his older sisters, Emma and Mame. The first of these ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Myhi - LibraryThing

Dreiser's stories are pretty much the same, even though using different names/cities. And they all are... somehow dramatic works, ending pretty bad. As I was young enough to spend the time... tried ... Read full review

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About the author (1994)

Theodore Dreiser was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, on August 27, 1871. After a poor and difficult childhood, Dreiser broke into newspaper work in Chicago in 1892. A successful career as a magazine writer in New York during the late 1890s was followed by his first novel, Sister Carrie (1900). When this work made little impact, Dreiser published no fiction until Jennie Gerhardt in 1911. There then followed a decade and a half of major work in a number of literary forms, which was capped in 1925 by An American Tragedy, a novel that brought him universal acclaim. Dreiser was increasingly preoccupied by philosophical and political issues during the last two decades of his life. He died in Los Angeles on December 28, 1945.

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