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American Diaries, 1902-1926 (Revised) (The University of Pennsylvania Dreiser Edition) Paperback – 1 May 1983

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"It's the man, not the artist, who emerges here." "The New Yorker""

"The most intimate autobiographical account we have of certain periods of Dreiser's life. . . . The portrait of Dreiser that emerges in these pages is not a radically new one, but not it has acquired the cumulative power of fact that a Dreiser novel has." "The Nation""

About the Author

Thomas P. Riggio is associate professor of English at the University of Connecticut. James L. W. West is professor of English at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Neda M. Westlake is curator of the Rare Books Collection at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A meticulously prepared research tool--NOT a worthwhile reading experience for the layperson 13 May 2012
By J. Faulk - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Extant are seven American diaries (1902-1926), when the writer was 31-55, by Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945). I'd say one-quarter of the text is fleshed out so it can be called prose. The remainder is staccato recitations of place names, walking routes, travel routes, breakfasts lunches dinners, shopping, prices, visitors, phone calls, correspondence, shaves baths bedtimes, publications, post office and bank visits.... Why Dreiser indulged in so much telegraphic notation, I leave to psychologists. In the book the result is copious footnotes. But having dragged through 400 pages of this litter, I must admit: Don't blame Dreiser, he did not intend this material for publication. (In addition to the 400 pages is Thomas P. Riggio's excellent Introduction, and James L. W. West's clarifying Editorial Perspectives--including preservation of Dreiser's poor spelling.)


[Sister Carrie pub 1900]

>>I. Philadelphia, 1902-03 (TD was 31-32)

60 pages

Debilitated by a nervous breakdown, Dreiser sent his wife "Jug" to live with her parents. Virtually destitute, he lived room-&-board. Per the doctor's instructions, Dreiser kept a written record of his response to various medications. Finally, finally! he received a 15-dollar payment.

[Jennie Gerhardt pub 1911]

>>II. Savannah and the South, 1916 (TD was 45]

30 pages

For the second time, Dreiser traveled south. His writing was progressing, but the looming problem was his breakup with young Kirah Markham, art student and actress, who began living with him in the West Village in early 1914.

>>III. Greenwich Village, 1917-18 (TD was 46-47)

108 pages

This locale certainly "fleshes out" the prose. Dreiser's secretary was young Estelle Bloom Kubitz, known as Bert. As his mistress, she was hot-for-it, but also clinging as she feared he would abandon her. The old boy was a marvel of greedy potency! He wrote stories, plays, articles, and was busy with lots of people in this "art colony."

>>IV. Home to Indiana, 1919 (TD was 48)

10 pages

>>V. A Trip to the Jersey Shore, 1919

4 pages

>>VI. Helen, Hollywood, and the "Tragedy," 1919-24 (TD was 48-53)

138 pages

Like Greenwich Village, Hollywood was another romantic locale for an intense relationship, with the young actress Helen Richardson. They were absolutely stuck on (and in) one another. From New York they had traveled to the West Coast, where she got movie work. Dreiser began work on his magnum opus, An American Tragedy, but it is barely mentioned in this diary. Despondent, Dreiser and Helen returned to New York in October 1922. She went west again in March 1924.

>>VII. Motoring to Florida, 1925-26 (TD was 54-55)

28 pages

Dreiser and Helen set out by car for an incident-laden trip. Strain and mutual dependence in their relationship was evident. (Finally, in June 1944 they married.)

[An American Tragedy pub late 1925]


Diary Fragments, 1914-18 (TD was 43-47)

4 pages

Included in the book are 26 illustrations and Index.
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