Theodore Dreiser: Our Bitter Patriot

Theodore Dreiser: Our Bitter Patriot

Theodore Dreiser: Our Bitter Patriot

Theodore Dreiser: Our Bitter Patriot

Excerpt

In discussing Theodore Dreiser, I find that Charles Shapiro is a hard man to precede because he seems in his book to have said virtually everything that can be said about Dreiser now--at least about the man's works. My own contribution will be some general observations along with a few reminiscences; the latter won't have the value of an actual memoir, for they deal with Dreiser only from a distance, as a man seen but not talked with. So here goes.

I can remember Dreiser at a Hollywood party in the early 1930s. He may have been a little high, for he insisted upon calling everyone George--not a felicitous memory to have of so remarkable an author as Dreiser really was. The other remembrance is a happier and more significant one, of Dreiser a year or so before that lecturing in Mandel Hall at the University of Chicago. Perhaps he was no Robert Ingersoll or William Jennings Bryan on the platform, but the way he said what he said had great force.

Most of it may be found in his autobiographical volumes; he spoke to us largely of his newspaper days in Chicago, St. Louis, Toledo, Pittsburgh, and New York. In each place, he said, he found evils that the very newspapers he was working for wanted to keep covered up. He soon found that he could hastily fake a harm.

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