Dearest Wilding: A Memoir: With Love Letters from Theodore Dreiser

Dearest Wilding: A Memoir: With Love Letters from Theodore Dreiser

Dearest Wilding: A Memoir: With Love Letters from Theodore Dreiser

Dearest Wilding: A Memoir: With Love Letters from Theodore Dreiser

Synopsis

A candid and intimate chapter in the life of a modern woman, Yvette Eastman's vivid narrative also contributes richly to the life story of Theodore Dreiser. Dearest Wilding: A Memoir records the journey that took Yvette Szekely from an upper-middle-class scholar's home in Budapest to the intellectual and artistic centers of urban America in the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1929 sixteen-year-old Yvette Szekely met Dreiser, who was fifty-eight at the time, and within a year he became her lover. Dreiser remained central to her life--as lover, father figure, and mentor--until his death in 1945. Her portrait of Dreiser, who is by no means idealized, is of a complex man--often troubled, suspicious, and jealous, but also caring and supportive.

The book is much more than an account of a sixteen-year relationship, however. It describes Eastman's attempt to understand her bond with Dreiser, forcing her back to her childhood, to memories of her distinguished but distant father who remained in Hungary, and to the early experiences that made the aging Dreiser so important to her life. In an afterword, the author thoughtfully reflects on the patterns of love and loss that form part of her past.

Dearest Wilding is a valuable primary source in literary history and among the last documents from this era. One of the most important figures in the memoir is Max Eastman, whose early relationship with Yvette Szekely resulted in marriage years later.

As perhaps the last reminiscence of Dreiser and his circle that will ever appear, Dearest Wilding: A Memoir promises rewarding reading.

Excerpt

Yvette Szekely Eastman’s memoir is the latest, and arguably the most revealing, of a number of books written by women who knew Theodore Dreiser. Biographers eventually will have to explain why Dreiser, for all his unsavory reputation as a careless philanderer, has inspired more such reminiscences than any other American writer. Helen Dreiser, Margaret Tjader Harris, Dorothy Dudley, Ruth Kennell, Clara Jaeger, Louise Campbell, and Vera Dreiser have all added to the record of the novelist’s life. Dearest Wilding—the title comes from a term of affection Dreiser used to address the author—surely provides the most intimate account. This is attributable to Mrs. Eastman’s considerable narrative skills, to her eye and memory for vivid details, and to the quality she says she most admired in Dreiser—the “detached, nonjudgmental yet compassionate acceptance” of what life brings.

Dearest Wilding records the journey that took eight-year-old Yvette Szekely from an upper-middle-class scholar’s home in Budapest to the intellectual and artistic centers of urban America in the 1920s and 1930s. the key moment of Mrs. Eastman’s memoir is her fateful meeting with Dreiser in 1929. She was then a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl and he a famous friend of her mother. Although the narrative ends with Dreiser’s death in 1945, this is more than an account of their sixteenyear relationship. Mrs. Eastman’s attempt to understand the nature of her bond with Dreiser forced her back even further, to her early childhood in Hungary, to memories of her erudite and famed but distant father who did not accompany her to America, and to the formative . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.