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Sister Carrie [Norton Critical Edition]

by Theodore Dreiser, Donald Pizer (Editor)

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8821519,582 (3.63)1
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.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
A good novel for its time but dated and mostly of historical interest for the rabid reaction from the righteous sex police, who have now moved on to Huckleberry Finn and probably Ovid's Metamorphosis. Remarkably realistic characterizations, for the time. Women will likely appreciate Sister Carrie more than men do, suggesting another star. If that's not sexist. ( )
  KENNERLYDAN | Jul 11, 2021 |
An incisive glimpse at the American dream, and a compelling Kunstlerroman, too. I still think Cather's portrayal of the female artist is better, and Dreiser is a bit less complex in his portrayal of women. ( )
  DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
The narrative is often drug-out but I do appreciate the main plot and message. ( )
  HillaryFredrick | Nov 4, 2020 |
My best Joel has a mate named Bob who now teaches at Rutgers. The fellow refers to himself as "new Bob" as he's eternally disposed to reinvention and further development. Years ago he vowed that he wasn't going to approach any literature composed after 1920: why, was his question, when there was so much of quality written before.

That sounded like a great idea. My will collapsed in pursuit of something similar after the better part of a month, I read Sister Carrie, The Secret Agent and The Good Solider. The first pair truly moved me. I soon lapsed and while I think about it from time to time, my habits avoid such restriction.

Dreiser was wonderful. He was also from Terre Haute where Joel earned his master's and consequently I drank a great deal of beer. Carrie's plight was something palpable. Her choices completely human. The conclusion was affecting and while I have pondered reading more Dreiser, I haven't. Not yet. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Sister Carrie was one of Dreiser’s first novels. It was not well-received when first published in 1900 for a variety of reasons, my favorite being that people of that day had a hard time with the book’s female protagonist not getting her due (as in negative consequences for all of her naughty decisions). She succeeds and shines to the very end even though she made a series of immoral decisions, which in those days should have ensured her doom. Evidently Dreiser and his wife toned it down a bit and that was why it was published at all. Interestingly, the altered version of the book was published consistently from 1900 until about 1980 when the original version finally became available. And for that, I am grateful.

I loved this story. There was something so soul-full about the characters. The “everyman” quality of Carrie, a very young woman who is initially too silly to know that glamour and and easy lifestyle comes with a price. At the outset she is just what a young woman might have been back then, relatively naive, ambitious to obtain trinkets and beautiful clothes, to be one of the beautiful people, and thus she was a rather silly girl. Carrie meets a Mr. Drouet on the train in from Chicago, beginning a friendship that would lead her to attaining her dreams. Drouet himself is almost the male equivalent of Carrie–enamoured with fine things, clothes, and beautiful women. But since he is making his own way in the world, he does work hard at his trade and makes a success of himself. Through Drouet, Carrie meets Hurstwood, a married, successful bar and hotel manager who is a the top of the society food chain in Chicago–at least for those in society who must work to attain or maintain their wealth. Each of the three make a succession of decisions, that in the novel’s time and indeed to a large extent in our own time, are considered immoral and create difficulties to which the characters must react.

I think for me that is one of the most powerful parts of the story. The point at which in anyone’s life, you have made a decision and must “suffer the consequences,” it is usually then where it seems that many future decisions are taken from you. You must then merely react to consequences upon consequences instead of having the upper hand and taking steps to determine your fate.

I found myself waiting many times during the first half of the novel for Carrie’s decisions to catch up with her. For whatever reason, I assumed that a book from this time, focusing on the human element and our penchant for making bad decisions worse, would have Carrie end up having to walk the streets or die of some venereal disease. I am astonished now at the outcome. And I applaud Dreiser’s courage to break away from the “evil fallen woman must suffer a thousand agonies and indignities” formula that literature had proscribed to since the first wronged man ever captured such a story on sheep’s guts. Because let's face it--literary immoral men seemed to do just fine most of the time.

It is not without some tedium though. At first, I was enchanted by the many, many details that Dreiser provided. You could close your eyes and picture Carrie on the train from Wisconsin to Chicago–going to the big city with stars in her eyes. By the 400th page of such description though, I confess to skimming through some of that detail. And yet, it’s not like many other detailed stories where I wish to heavens that the author had just stopped 200 pages earlier. The detail is needed, for the most part, to really get you into the minds and even the lodgings of the characters. It leaves you with a more complete view of the desperation of the two main characters–desperation that leads them in decidedly different ways. ( )
  mullgirl | Jun 8, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Theodore Dreiserprimary authorall editionscalculated
Pizer, DonaldEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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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.
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Do Not Combine: This is a "Norton Critical Edition", it is a unique work with significant added material, including essays and background materials. Do not combine with other editions of the work. Please maintain the phrase "Norton Critical Edition" in the Canonical Title and Series fields.
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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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Average: (3.63)
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