Author: Theodore Dreiser
Translator: Byeong-cheol Kim
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About This Book
An American Tragedy is a famous American novel, by Theodore Dreiser. Written in
1925, the book is the story of a young man Clyde Griffiths, whose troubles with
women and the law take him from his religious upbringing in Kansas City to the
fictional town of Lycurgus, New York. Among Clyde's love interests are the
materialistic Hortense Briggs, the charming farmer's daughter Roberta Alden and
the aristocratic Sondra Finchley. The book is naturalistic in style, containing
subject matter such as religion, capital punishment and abortion, and attempting
to shed light on societal evils. The well-known film A Place in the Sun is based
on An American Tragedy.
Clyde's downfall begins when he takes a job as a bell-boy at a local hotel. The boys he meets are much more liberal than he, and they introduce Clyde to the world of alcohol and prostitution. Clyde enjoys his new lifestyle, and does everything in his power to win the affections of the flirtatious Hortense Briggs. But Clyde's life is forever changed when a stolen car he is travelling in with friends kills a young child. Clyde is forced to flee Kansas City, and after a brief stay in Chicago, he reestablishes himself at the collar factory of his uncle in Lycurgus, New York.
Although Clyde vows not to give in to women in the way that caused his Kansas City downfall, he quickly succumbs to the charms of Roberta Alden, a poor girl working under him at the factory. While Clyde initially feels fulfilled by Roberta, his ambition forces him to realize that he could never marry her. He dreams of the aristocratic Sondra Finchley, the daughter of a wealthy Lycurgus man, and a family friend of his uncle's. As developments between him and Sondra begin to look promising, Roberta discovers that she is pregnant. Trying unsuccessfully to secure an abortion of the child, Clyde procrastinates the decision while his relationship with Sondra continues to mature. As he realizes that he has a wonderful opportunity to marry into such an aristocratic family, Clyde hatches a diabolic scheme...
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