Essays on Theodore Dreiser
I have been writing about Dreiser for almost half a century, and during that time have produced essays with varying themes and methods. To give coher- ence to a collection of these essays, I initially organized them into groupings that reflected the commonalities in a specific group. Once they were orga- nized in this fashion, I perceived that these commonalities had a base in my own shifting interests and methods over the years and that the essays could therefore be best introduced by describing that progression. Hence the roughly autobiographical account which follows. It may also be useful to comment at this point on my personal relationship to the title of this volume—or, more specifically, to the quote from Dreiser’s 1907 interview which provides the title. I have always had a visceral response to Dreiser’s reply to the interviewer’s question about what he was trying to “show” in his fiction—a response which I sense may help explain my strong interest in coming to grips with Dreiser’s mind and art over the years. Dreiser, as my essay “Dreiser and the Jews” demonstrates, was not always an admirable person, and he could also at times write ineptly. But in this early statement of his aims as a writer, he powerfully sets out a goal which he frequently does achieve and which it has been my pleasure and honor to attempt to recount. PIZER_book.indd 11 09/08/13 4:06 PM xii preface I was much interested in Theodore Dreiser during the...
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