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An American Tragedy (Signet Classics) Mass Market Paperback – 1 Sep 2000

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Mass Market Paperback, 1 Sep 2000
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 859 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Reissue edition (1 Sept. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451527704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451527707
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 3.6 x 17.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 512,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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DUSK-of a summer night. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Martin A Hogan HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Jan. 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dreiser has crafted an immmense, complex novel based on the life of Clyde Griffiths, a man who commmitted a famous murder out of desperation in 1906. Born of a poor Mid-western Salvation Army family, Griffiths becomes romantically involved with a woman of his own class, only to fall in love with a socialite just beyond his grasp. A series of miscalculations evolves and Griffiths finds himself lost in his own web of tragedy and panic.
Occurring mostly in the resort of Big Moose Lake, N.Y. during the hey-day of Adirondacks, the mood and characters are all too believable and Dreiser paints a romantically painful picture of a man who cannot escape his roots and destiny.
Don't be beset by the voluminous writing. The structure, narration and characterization is perfect. Dreiser truly has created the perfect All American novel. If you can pace your reading to prevent getting ahead of yourself, you will notice the careful style Dreiser has created that turns a neat full circle by the end.
Made famous by the film, "A Place In The Sun" with Montgomery Clift, Shelley Winters and Elizabeth Taylor.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By I. Sample on 7 Oct. 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very interesting book in terms of the depth of description that Dreiser builds into, and around his characters. You gain much from what decisions the characters make, but also how they implement these, and how the society of that time and the setting defines and confines their actions and finally judges their morality. I think part of the beauty of this book is that you know that the characters have major flaws, that you can see where the narrative will eventually lead, but the descriptive language and the depth of feeling is very enriching. Despite the fact that you know where the path will finally lead, you can still feel satisfied by the journey.

If you enjoy a beautifully written novel, though profoundly sad and melancholy, then you will not be disappointed - this is not an easy reader for a Sunday afternoon... With a title like this it is not going to be a laugh a minute, but that is an understatement, it is not so much the despair but the possibility of hope snuffed out that lingers and haunts.

Unsurprisingly I was recommended this book by a Ukrainian friend while in Rostov. It is very much of the vein of Eastern European and especially Russian classical literature, but set in beginning of the last century USA, hence the title!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John The Doc on 14 April 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For me this was a sad book of innocence which finally gave way to avarice greed and murder. Thoroughly absorbing and sometimes very irritating and childish characters. American literature at its finest.
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19 of 28 people found the following review helpful By ingrid.lang@pandora.be on 10 Aug. 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Clyde Griffiths certainly has been led into temptation by his creator Theodore Dreiser: here he is, only an inch away from all he has ever wanted (money, beauty, status) and he thinks he can get it by paying the price of killing his former girlfriend. Dreiser, being a moralist, does not let him get away with it. On death row Clyde for the first time in his life makes a moral decision and perhaps reclaims his soul but loses his life. Neither could his victim, Roberta, resist the temptation of doing the wrong thing in order to get what she wants. Sex outside marriage does not seem much of an issue to us but this is turn of the century America and she herself is convinced that it is sinful. She falls victim to Clyde's seduction because she sees him as someone who can lift her out of her deprived existence on a fungous farm into a better life. It is true that she is also sentimentally in love with him. Up until the end Clyde feels that those who have not been tempted as he was should not judge him. He grew up repelled by the shabbiness of his home and confused by the failure of his parents (who are street preachers) to achieve any tangible success in life. He rejects their bible messages but, due to his lack of education and social isolation, has nothing to replace them with. When he does earn some money he wastes it on an exploitative girlfriend. Years later we see him in a minor position in his rich uncle's factory. He meets Roberta, who works for him and has a clandestine affair with her. And then it happens: he catches the fancy of a very rich society girl who brings him into the wealthy set, makes him presents, gives him money, plans a future with him. Roberta, by now pregnant and threatening a scandal, is an obstacle.Read more ›
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sarah A. Brown VINE VOICE on 21 Aug. 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the story of a bright, restless youth, the son of drably cautious missionary parents, who wants to escape from his rather shabby and depressing life. Although Dreiser is criticising the American Dream, he manages (as he does in Sister Carrie too I think) to make the world of work seem rather enticing. - Clyde moves from a drug store to work as a bell hop and is eventually offered a promising opening in his rich uncle's collar factory. The novel thus offers a fascinating picture of different sections of early c.20 American society. To say more would give too much away, but one of the most effective aspects of this very long novel is the unsettling way it makes the reader understand, if not share, the experiences and impulses of the flawed protagonist. Clyde is selfish and superficial, but I found myself getting very caught up with his desperate desires - whether for a girl, a job or a possession - and his equally desperate desire to escape from certain situations. Dreiser isn't a great stylist - but he's a terrific storyteller.
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