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Sister Carrie: The Unexpurgated Edition…

Sister Carrie: The Unexpurgated Edition (Penguin Classics) (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 1981; vuoden 1981 painos)

– tekijä: Theodore Dreiser (Tekijä), Neda M. Westlake (Toimittaja), John C. Berkey (Toimittaja), Alice M. Winters (Toimittaja)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
556432,339 (3.84)2
Theodore Dreiser's first and perhaps most accessible novel, Sister Carrie is an epic of urban life - the story of an innocent heroine adrift in an indifferent city. When small-town girl Carrie Meeber sets out for Chicago, she is equipped with nothing but a few dollars, a certain unspoiled beauty and charm, and a pitiful lack of preparation for the complex moral choices she will face.… (lisätietoja)
Teoksen nimi:Sister Carrie: The Unexpurgated Edition (Penguin Classics)
Kirjailijat:Theodore Dreiser (Tekijä)
Muut tekijät:Neda M. Westlake (Toimittaja), John C. Berkey (Toimittaja), Alice M. Winters (Toimittaja)
Info:Penguin Classics (1981), Edition: Unexpurgated, 528 pages
Kokoelmat:Robin (study)
Arvio (tähdet):

Teoksen tarkat tiedot

Sister Carrie: The Unexpurgated Edition (tekijä: Theodore Dreiser) (1981)


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näyttää 4/4
very entertaining,terse and readable novel with not a single extra word. i finished it in four days. Also loved his style of writing with his delightful philosophical observations about men and society tucked neatly in between and throughout the novel like treats . Enjoyed looking at early 20th century life through his experienced eyes. ( )
  sidiki | Feb 24, 2015 |
Sister Carrie is a treatise on naturalism-- heavy laden with the philosophy that we are slaves to our individual natures and cannot escape the fates to which they lead us. Although I do not agree with Dreiser's premise, I did find the book extremely thought provoking both from a cultural and personal standpoint. The characters are well-developed, but I found none of them particularly sympathetic and their actions (or lack of decision and actions) frustrating. The overall mood of the story is one of gloom, despair, and utter hopelessness (so don't read it in Winter). However, Dreiser does a masterful job of showing step by tiny step the process of change in people and relationships. His understanding of the female psyche-- particularly the glamour-loving, semi-greedy type-- is exceptionally astute. I'm not sure why he insists on making sentences as complex as humanly possible by dangling participles every which way-- but I eventually got used to his writing style and read the second half of the book much faster the first half.

This is a long dense book that has to be savored slowly, but if you like Anna Karenina (Tolstoy), The Winter of our Discontent (Steinbeck), and House of Mirth (Wharton) then you might enjoy Sister Carrie too. ( )
3 ääni technodiabla | Sep 23, 2009 |
Reading this required diligence on my part, attention and the willingness to grasp at new conceptions of the foundations of modern American culture. I have long come to accept the current consumerist bent of the nation as something of a continuum, but in Dreiser's novel you can see its nascence, along with the death kicks of patriarchal solidity as the soft and bourgeois face the maw of rampant capitalism, as wells as the subsuming of feminine identity in a raft of blithering materialism. If such stuff is your proverbial thing, you might have a good time with it.

Not that Dreiser's subject matter is shallow. The work is important. It's a good filter to look through to understand where we came from and where we might be going. But it's hard to take in the sense of the title character, who effectively doesn't exist. Perhaps you'll note that it isn't until the last few pages of the novel that Dreiser, via the strange and archetypical academic Ames, describes even a single detail of her appearance. Don't wait for her back story to unfold--it doesn't. She is a selfhood-free waif tacking in the breezes of fatuous, sexless desire, shipwrecked far from her goals of meaningful prosperity.

I've heard this novel called one of the first modern works of American fiction. I can see that. I spent a lot of time scrutinizing details of life--relatively plentiful in Dreiser's naturalistic style--noticing that the faces of Chicago and New York City were indeed changing. Sometimes you see gas lights, sometimes incandescent. Horses are starting to seem outmoded, streetcars more efficient. Women are starting to creep into the workforce. Money has become definitive (Dreiser will tell you how much nearly everything in the novel costs, to the penny).

What made this hard to read for me was the alternation between story and dialogue (easy enough) and long, introspective passages that caused me to refute the suggestion that naturalism never moralizes. Or perhaps I'm asserting my own expectations of moralization on top of what Dreiser is saying. In either case, it felt tiring. I felt compelled to skim occasionally, something to which I do not normally resort.

In the end, I felt like I was checking off a big to-do item: read foundational turn-of-the-century naturalistic novel. Check! ( )
1 ääni lyzadanger | Apr 3, 2008 |
When Caroline Meeber boarded the afternoon train for Chicago, her total outfit consisted of a small trunk, a cheap imitation alligator-skin satchel, a small lunch in a paper box, and a yellow leather snap purse, containing her ticket, a scrap of paper with her sister's address in Van Buren Street, and four dollars in money. It was in August, 1889. She was eighteen years of age, bright, timid, and full of the illusions of ignorance and youth.

Sister Carrie intertwines two narratives of social mobility; one upward and the other downward. Carrie Meeber ends up ensconced in the Waldorf Hotel, while her lover George Hurstwood is buried in Potter's Field. These two are the novel's primary characters, but one of its major themes is the American city, memorialising the romantic appeal of mid-1880s Chicago, with the newly-opened department stores on State Street and the mansions on North Shore Drive, and the extremes of New York in the 1890s, from the crowds parading on Broadway to the homeless queuing for bread.

Carrie is first introduced as an innocent eighteen-year old, leaving the family home in a small mid-Western town to try her fortune in Chicago. On the train she is befriended by Charles Drouet, a gaily-dressed travelling salesman, who describes the city in glowing terms. Attracted by his ease with money, his shiny tan shoes and his confident air, Carrie is both excited and terrified by the possibilities held out by Drouet and the big city.

Carrie discovers Chicago to be a place of contrasts. She passes beautifully-dressed women in the street and she is stirred to emulation. In the department stores where she has gone to seek work, she is dazzled by the clientele and the merchandise. On a later visit, fine clothes will speak to her (“My dear”, said the lace collar… “I fit you so beautifully; don't give me up.”), but as yet she is excluded from such wonderful practices of consumption. The flat of her sister's family is dour, reflecting the dull grind of manual labour. Carrie gets a job in a shoe factory for $4.50 per week. After paying for her board this leaves just fifty cents for “clothes and amusement” and car fare. Within a few weeks she catches a fever and even this job is lost.

Depressed by the dull work and poverty of her existence, and impressed by the wealth she sees displayed around her, Carrie comes across Drouet in the street. His clothes and his ready money identify him with the glamour that had seemed out of reach. He buys Carrie a meal and gives her two very material “soft, green handsome ten-dollar bills” to buy clothes. At this point the narrator intervenes in philosophical mode, opining that “The true meaning of money yet remains to be popularly explained and comprehended”, though it seems simple enough to Carrie: “Money: something everybody else has and I must get”. This is one of many interventions, in which the narrator breaks into the narrative to point out the erroneousness of popular conceptions of such things as money, language, morality, and love; though he often conspicuously fails to deliver a definitive judgement on them himself. Shortly afterwards, Drouet sets Carrie up in a furnished flat and she begins to pass for his wife.

After their first night together, the narrator again intervenes to warn against normative responses of moral outrage. George Hurstwood appears on the scene, an acquaintance of Drouet's and manager of the upmarket resort, Fitzgerald and Moy's. Comfortably middle-class, Hurstwood's affective relations with his family have been supplanted by a purely financial relationship. A romantic attraction develops between Hurstwood and Carrie, who almost subliminally realises that the “duller shine” of his shoes signals a taste and a class position a cut above that of Drouet. Their attraction intensifies during Carrie's performance in an amateur dramatic production got up to raise money for the fraternal order of the Elks, to which both Drouet and Hurstwood belong. Dreiser here uses an actual play, Augustin Daly's Under The Gaslight, the action of which revolves around the class identification of a young heroine. Eventually, Hurstwood, half by accident, steals ten thousand dollars of his employers' money and flees family, job and Chicago, tricking Carrie into accompanying him.

The pair set up home in New York, at first in a well fitted out apartment on the Upper West Side. Dreiser has Carrie delight in modern conveniences: a stationary range, a dumb-waiter, speaking tubes, a call-bell for the janitor, and most up-to-date of all, steam heat. In time, however, Hurstwood is forced to return most of the stolen money, and his wife appropriates his savings. In much reduced circumstances, he buys a stake in a corner bar, but loses his investment when the lease is not renewed. Several years pass. As his store of money is spent, Hurstwood's clothes, social standing, and even his stature go into decline. Meanwhile Carrie spends time with some neighbours, the Vances, sampling the high life of New York: Broadway and restaurants such as Sherry's. Through them she meets Robert Ames, an inventor “connnected with an electrical company”, whose discourses on art and life she takes to heart. Carrie tries her luck on the stage again, and soon works her way up from the chorus to a speaking part, and then to leading roles.

Hurstwood's decline continues. He works as a scab during a trolley-car strike. Carrie leaves him and he becomes a down-and-out. One winter's night Hurstwood sees the face of Carrie the star on an advertisement hoarding, and glimpses Carrie herself; a few days later he commits suicide in a flophouse.

Carrie runs into Ames again, who stirs up her latent dissatisfactions and persuades her to aim for more serious work: the “comedy-drama”. Perhaps he indicates a path towards personal fulfilment in a sphere of life, dramatic performance, where the materialism of the rest of the novel is transcended; but it is hard to ignore the fact that he inveighs against luxury while dining at one of New York's most expensive restaurants. The effect of his prompting is to provoke Carrie into hankering for a dream of artistic fulfilment, despite his initial warning that “It doesn't do us any good to wring our hands over the far-off things.” Whether the unconvincingness of Ames is a failure on Dreiser's part or a structural impossibility given the novel's relentless demystifications, is open to debate. What is certain is that Carrie ends in an unsatisfied state. The novel closes with another narrative intervention, in which, not for the first time, the sentimental and philosophical tendencies of the narrator persona contrast with the novel's commitment to realist representation and scientific or pseudo-scientific explanations for human behaviour:

Oh, Carrie, Carrie! Oh, blind strivings of the human heart! Onward, onward, it saith, and where beauty leads, there it follows … It is when the feet weary and hope seems vain that the heartaches and longings arise. Know, then, that for you is neither surfeit nor content. In your rocking-chair, by your window dreaming, shall you long, alone. In your rocking-chair, by your window, shall you dream such happiness as you may never feel.

The clashing styles of Sister Carrie, evident by comparing this passage with the opening lines quoted above, have ensured that the novel gained and has retained controversial status. William Dean Howells, a realist of an earlier and more genteel generation, defended Dreiser, but Sister Carrie was denigrated by some member of the American literary establishment, who found its style awkward and its use of social Darwinist and pseudo-scientific explanations for human behaviour (its “naturalism”) reductive. Another point of conflict was Dreiser's realist portrayal of sexuality, eschewing the principles of moralising fiction that dictated that female sexuality outside marriage led inexorably to mental, physical, social and economic decline. More recently, debate has raged over the novel's political significance, as a critique of, an apology for, or a product of American capitalism. Sister Carrie has to some extent been adopted into a traditional canon of American literature, through its depiction of Carrie as questing for spiritual values in a materialistic, post-religious world. Critics have also focused on the novel's striking depictions of urban life. What pulls all these significances together, perhaps, is a sense of Sister Carrie as a major text of urban modernity, depicting the subjectivities engendered by mass production and consumption in the American city.

It is worth noting that Sister Carrie is available today in two quite different versions. Most reprints follow the 1900 edition, with a minor revision dating from 1907. However, in 1981 the University of Pennsylvania Press and Penguin Books brought out a version that used as its copy-text Dreiser's first draft of the novel, before he submitted it to the editorial process. This restored much material, especially in the chapters set in Chicago, including the use of a series of actual places (Hurstwood is manager at Hannah and Hogg's, rather than the fictional Fitzgerald and Moy's; while Carrie and the Vances dine at New York's premier restaurant, Delmonico's). Characterisations are subtly different, while most strikingly this version ends with Hurstwood's suicide. ( )
1 ääni juniorbonner | Feb 20, 2007 |
näyttää 4/4
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When Caroline Meeber boarded the afternoon train for Chicago her total outfit consisted of a small trunk, which was checked in the baggage car, a cheap imitation alligator skin satchel holding some minor details of the toilet, a small lunch in a paper box and a yellow leather snap purse, containing her ticket, a scrap of paper with her sister's address in Van Buren Stree, and four dollars in money.
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Sister Carrie was originally published with many sections excised due to length and editorial opinion. The unexpurgated editions replaces this material as the book was originally written. Do not combine the unexpergated editions (Penguin: ISBN 0140390022; Pennsylvania Edition: 0812216385; NYPL Collectors Edition: 038548724X) with the regular or Norton Critical editions of the book.
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Theodore Dreiser's first and perhaps most accessible novel, Sister Carrie is an epic of urban life - the story of an innocent heroine adrift in an indifferent city. When small-town girl Carrie Meeber sets out for Chicago, she is equipped with nothing but a few dollars, a certain unspoiled beauty and charm, and a pitiful lack of preparation for the complex moral choices she will face.

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