Pagan Dreiser: Songs from American Mythology

By Shawn St. Jean | Go to book overview

Notes

INTRODUCTION

1. As far as I have discovered, only a few of today’s critics have considered Dreiser’s Greek nexuses at all. Frederic Rusch, in “Lycurgus and Dreiser’s An American Tragedy,” Notes on Modern American Literature8:3 (1984), briefly explored the author’s “parallels between the story he was telling and the stories of the Lycurguses of myth and history” [no page number given]. Roark Mulligan discussed Dreiser’s use of the Artemis and Actaeon myth at the American Literature Association’s annual conference in San Diego, May 1996, in his talk “Chasing Diana and Her Dogs: Dreiser’s Hunt of American Endogamy.” See also chapter 1, note 27, on Philip Gerber.

2. While Dreiser’s career in fiction yet loomed on the horizon, The Origin of the Aryans: An Account of the Prehistoric Ethnology and Civilisation of Europe (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1898) was published as part of “The Contemporary Science Series.” Author Isaac Taylor eruditely navigated “the Aryan controversy” and remarked: “Much of the mythology of ancient Greece, instead of having a common origin with that of India, proves to be essentially non-Aryan, and must have been obtained from Babylonia through Phoenician channels [and] … the more cultured Semites” (301). Such findings often found little hearing in Dreiser’s America, a culture “desperate to maintain Aryan superiority in the face of massive immigrations,” according to Susan S. Lanser, in “Feminist Criticism, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper,’ and the Politics of Color in America,” Feminist Studies 15:3 (Fall 1989):425.

3. Theodore Dreiser, An A merican Tragedy (1925; rpt., New York: Signet, 1981), 9. Theodore Dreiser, The “Genius” (New York: John Lane, 1915), 734.

4. Qtd. in Ellen Moers, Two Dreisers (New York: Viking, 1969), 298.

5. Dreiser to [X], Letters of Theodore Dreiser: A Selection, ed. Robert Elias (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1959), 694.

6. Ibid., 696.

7. Gilbert Murray, The Rise of the Greek Epic (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1907), 8.

8. Ibid.

9. James Freeman Clarke, Ten Great Religions, 36th ed. (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1897). Subsequent citations in the text refer to this edition.

10. That the chapter was not extensively marked by Dreiser seems to indicate his normal mode of reading when he was already familiar with the material or arguments; the others were probably marked because Dreiser was encountering new information in them.

11. Henry Osborn Taylor, Ancient Ideals, vol. 1, 2nd ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1930), 232–33.

-201-

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Pagan Dreiser: Songs from American Mythology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Acknowledgments 7
  • Introduction 9
  • Pagan Dreiser 25
  • 1 - Naturalism 27
  • 2 - Social Criticism 74
  • 3 - Gender and Sexuality 116
  • 4 - Religion, Mythology, and Intertextuality 164
  • Notes 201
  • Works Cited 221
  • Index 229
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