This edition of Dreiser's JENNIE GERHARDT attempts to "correct" the text that appeared in 1911 when the book was first published. Back then the editors at Harper's agreed to publish the novel only if they could make substantial changes to the text, softening Dreiser's criticisms of organized religion and the rich, and diluting the "immoral" behavior of the main character. Dreiser reportedly didn't like the changes, fought to get some of them re-instated, but eventually had to yield since no other publisher would touch the book. Using preserved typescripts, this edition is closer to the one Dreiser submitted before cuts were made.
Jennie Gerhardt has an out-of-wedlock child by Senator Brander, which she is able to keep secret from the wealthy socialite Lester Kane, whom she takes up with. He finds out about the child, however, and is unaffected by the news. He continues to live with her in a complicated arrangement, until Jennie finds out that Lester's father will basically disinherit him if he doesn't stop living with her and forces him to leave (echoes of WASHINGTON SQUARE by James and the subsequent movie version THE HEIRESS here). He marries Letty Gerald, a woman from his own social class, but is miserable. When he becomes ill and is alone, he summons Jennie and declares his true love for her.
The novel is an interesting one. Lester is a pessimistic, cynical, atheistic man while Jennie is much simpler and has a mystical belief in the goodness of life. The "battleground" on which these opposing beliefs are fought over is made fascinating by Dreiser. Also Lester's struggle with his own wealthy class system, which he is never comfortable with and rebels against, is handled admirably and honestly by the author (it became a major theme in fiction by WW I). This was Dreiser's second novel after SISTER CARRIE; it's not as good as that first book, but it's a solid work of fiction nonetheless.