Sister Carrie

Sister Carrie

Sister Carrie

Sister Carrie

Synopsis

The Sister Carrie edition that was published in 1900, long regarded as a watershed work in American fiction, was actually a censored misrepresentation of Drieser's original story. When, 80 years later, the Pennsylvania Edition first appeared, replete with scholarly apparatus, it was hailed from coast to coast as a literary event of major importance. The Pennsylvania Edition restored the 36,000 words that had been excised at the insistence of the author's wife, his publisher, and a friend.

This edition contains the complete, unexpurgated text, without the scholarly apparatus, plus a new introductory essay by Thomas P. Riggio.

Excerpt

The year 2000 marks the centennial anniversary of the publication of Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie. the book today stands firmly at the head of a long line of urban novels that have redefined American life in this century. in 1900 there was no way of predicting that the twenty-nine-year-old Dreiser’s first novel would have so large an impact on modern fiction. It sold badly, some 450 copies in fourteen months; and its author’s problems with his publisher should have buried forever its chance of recognition. the novel survived largely because Dreiser had a genius for self-promotion that rivaled that of one of his literary heroes, Walt Whitman. He masterminded a new issue of the novel in 1907, and he skillfully used the print media to advertise it. His major weapon was a dramatic story he spread that succeeded for decades in politicizing the critical discourse surrounding Sister Carrie. in skeletal form the story, which has become part of the mythology of American literature, runs something like this:

Young Dreiser begins to write realistic fiction in the late
1890s. Hostile and moralistic magazine editors reject his sto
ries because of his insistence on telling the unpleasant truth
about American life. Despite this opposition, he is encour
aged by a fellow writer to begin a novel. He struggles through
to the end. the book is sent to the Doubleday firm where one
of its readers — Frank Norris — recognizes its greatness and
convinces the firm to accept the book. When the publisher
Frank Doubleday returns from a vacation in Europe, his wife
reads the manuscript and reacts in horror at the thought that
her husband would publish this vulgar, immoral, naturalistic
novel. Under her influence, Doubleday tries to cancel the
agreement. Dreiser refuses to back away. the company pub
lishes the book, but does not promote it. Many copies remain
in the warehouse. Thus it comes into the world stillborn.

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.