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"The Game as It Is Played"

Essays on Theodore Dreiser


Donald Pizer

The Game as It Is Played comprises the best of Donald Pizer’s essays on Theodore Dreiser. Pizer, one of Dreiser’s principal critics over the past forty years, is especially concerned in establishing the distinctive nature and quality of Dreiser’s naturalism in many of these essays. From one of Dreiser’s earliest short stories to his acknowledged masterpiece, An American Tragedy, Pizer demonstrates that in Dreiser’s hands naturalism is not the blunt instrument it is usually assumed to be but rather a powerful tool for the rendering of a complex view of the human condition. In addition, the essays explore several of the more controversial areas of Dreiser scholarship, including his late conversion to communism, his anti-Semitism, and the text of Sister Carrie.


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Preface xi Editorial Note and Acknowledgments xvii Dreiser’s Career 1. “True Art Speaks Plainly”: Theodore Dreiser and the Late Nineteenth-Century Debate over Realism and Naturalism 3 2. “The Logic of My Life and Work”: Another Look at Dreiser’s July 20, 1945, Letter to William Z. Foster 17 3. Dreiser and the Jews 27 Dreiser and American Naturalism 4. American Literary Naturalism: The Example of Dreiser 57 5. Dreiser and the Naturalistic Drama of Consciousness 67 6. American Literary Naturalism in its “Perfected” State: An American Tragedy and The Age of Innocence 79 7. The Problem of American Literary Naturalism and Dreiser’s Sister Carrie 91 8. Late Nineteenth-Century American Literary Naturalism: A Re-Introduction 103 PIZER_book.indd 9 09/08/13 4:06 PM x contents Dreiser’s Works 9. Theodore Dreiser’s “Nigger Jeff”: The Development of an Aesthetic 121 10. Toward Sister Carrie: The Sources and Nature of Dreiser’s Narrative Method 133 11. Introduction to New Essays on Sister Carrie 147 12. An Evolutionary Reading of Sister Carrie 165 13. The Text of Sister Carrie 173 14. An Introduction to Jennie Gerhardt 179 15. Otto Weininger and the Sexual Dynamics of Theodore Dreiser’s The “Genius” 189 16. Crime and Punishment in Dreiser’s An American Tragedy: The Legal Debate 201 Index 219 PIZER_book.indd 10 09/08/13 4:06 PM

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