Financier

ISBN-10: 014310554X
ISBN-13: 9780143105541
Edition: 2008 (Revised)
List price: $18.00 Buy it from $3.80
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Description: A defiant critique of American capitalism A MASTER OF GRITTY NATURALISM, Theodore Dreiser explores the corruption of the American dream in The Financier. Frank Cowperwood, a fiercely ambitious businessman, emerges as the very embodiment of greed as  More...

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Book details

List price: $18.00
Copyright year: 2008
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/25/2008
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 528
Size: 5.25" wide x 7.75" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 0.748

A defiant critique of American capitalism A MASTER OF GRITTY NATURALISM, Theodore Dreiser explores the corruption of the American dream in The Financier. Frank Cowperwood, a fiercely ambitious businessman, emerges as the very embodiment of greed as he relentlessly seeks satisfaction in wealth, women, and power. As Cowperwood deals and double-deals, betrays and is in turn betrayed, his rise and fall come to represent the American success story stripped down to brutal realitiesa struggle for spoils without conscience or pity. Dreisers 1912 classic remains an unsparing social critique as well as a devastating character study of one of the most unforgettable American businessmen in twentieth-century literature.

Theodore Dreiser was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, the twelfth of 13 children. His childhood was spent in poverty, or near poverty, and his family moved often. In spite of the constant relocations, Dreiser managed to attend school, and, with the financial aid of a sympathetic high school teacher, he was able to attend Indiana University. However, the need for income forced him to leave college after one year and take a job as a reporter in Chicago. Over the next 10 years, Dreiser held a variety of newspaper jobs in Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and finally New York. He published his first novel, Sister Carrie in 1900, but because the publisher's wife considered its language and subject matter too "strong", it was barely advertised and went almost unnoticed. Today it is regarded as one of Dreiser's best works. It is the story of Carrie, a young woman from the Midwest, who manages to rise to fame and fortune on the strength of her personality and ambition, through her acting talent, and via her relationships with various men. Much of the book's controversy came from the fact that it portrayed a young woman who engages in sexual relationships without suffering the poverty and social downfall that were supposed to be the "punishment" for such "sin." Dreiser's reputation has increased instrumentally over the years. His best book and first popular success, An American Tragedy (1925), is now considered a major American novel, and his other works are widely taught in college courses. Like Sister Carrie, An American Tragedy also tells the story of an ambitious young person from the Midwest. In this case, however, the novel's hero is a man who is brought to ruin because of a horrible action he commits - he murders a poor young woman whom he has gotten pregnant, but whom he wants to discard in favor of a wealthy young woman who represents luxury and social advancement. As Dreiser portrays him, the young man is a victim of an economic system that torments so many with their lack of privilege and power and temps them to unspeakable acts. Dreiser is also known for the Coperwood Trilogy - The Financier (1912), The Titan (1914), and the posthumously published The Store (1947). Collectively the three books paint the portrait of a brilliant and ruthless "financial buccaneer." Dreiser is associated with Naturalism, a writing style that also includes French novelist Emile Zola. Naturalism seeks to portray all the social forces that shape the lives of the characters, usually conveying a sense of the inevitable doom that these forces must eventually bring about. Despite this apparent pessimism, Dreiser had faith in socialism as a solution to what he saw as the economic injustices of American capitalism. His socialist views were reinforced by a trip to the newly socialist Soviet Union, and in fact, Dreiser is still widely read in that country. There, as here, he is seen as a powerful chronicler of the injustices and ambitions of his time. Dreiser officially joined the Communist Party shortly before his death in 1945.

Larzer Ziff is the author of a number of books on American literary culture, including Mark Twain; Return Passages: Great American Travel Writing, 1780–1910; and The American 1890s: Life and Times of a Lost Generation, which won the Christian Gauss Award. He has also edited modern editions of major American authors, including Franklin, Hawthorne, Melville, Thoreau, Emerson, Crane, and Dreiser. He was the first person to have been appointed to the English faculty of Oxford University for the purpose of teaching American literature. Presently Ziff is Caroline Donovan Professor Emeritus at Johns Hopkins University.

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