Newspaper Days

Newspaper Days

Newspaper Days

Newspaper Days


In Newspaper Days, first published in 1922 under the title A Book about Myself, Theodore Dreiser explored his personal life during the time he spent as a reporter for newspapers in Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and New York in the 1890s.


In regard to the material -- it is autobiographical. When I was twentysix I read Rousseau's Confessions.

-- Dreiser to Grant C. Knight, 13 May 1929

Sometime in the spring of 1914 Theodore Dreiser began writing the first of a projected four-volume account of his life. By 1920 he had completed two parts of this project. Dreiser was reluctant to publish the first book because it dealt with the youthful misdeeds of brothers and sisters who were still alive. Besides, a memoir about growing up in a German-American family was not the most marketable subject in the early postwar years. For whatever reason, he held back the first part of his autobiography until 1931, when it appeared under the title Dawn. in 1920, finding himself more comfortable with the story of his start as a writer, he gave the publisher Horace Liveright the manuscript for Newspaper Days, which covers his time as a reporter between 1890 and 1894. When Liveright issued it as A Book about Myself in 1922, the title was the slightest of the changes made in Dreiser's text. in fact, the version of the story that Dreiser had brought to closure in 1920 had been cut by more than thirty thousand words for the first edition. in good faith, and with an eye to the demands of the literary marketplace, Liveright, H. L. Mencken, and other editors bowdlerized the text and removed a good deal of Dreiser's social and philosophical commentary. All later editions of Newspaper Days reprinted the Liveright text.

The present edition is meant to complement the first edition of 1922. That book can now be read as a historical artifact, a product of its time and of publishing conditions that did not allow Dreiser to have his narrative issued in the state in which he had completed it in 1920. Dreiser's habit of preserving his personal and professional papers makes this publication possible. Based on the manuscript in the Dreiser Collection at the University of Pennsylvania, this edition offers the fullest version of Dreiser's account of a crucial period in his career. We. have here more firsthand information about urban journalism in Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and New York in the 1890s; more of the political and social world of late nineteenth-century America; and more solid data about Dreiser's life and the sources of much of his later fiction.

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