For a century, Theodore Dreiser has represented for many readers a rebellious modernism whose novels both critiqued the American dream and embodied a bleakly deterministic perception of life. His first novel, Sister Carrie (1900), was reluctantly published and then ignored by its publisher, who thought the book immoral. Another publisher withdrew his fifth novel, The Genius (1915), rather than face prosecution on obscenity charges. Dreiser did not enjoy widespread popularity and critical acclaim until his masterpiece, An American Tragedy, appeared in 1925. This reference is an authoritative guide to his life and works.
Included are several hundred entries on each of Dreiser's books and short stories, as well as magazine and newspaper pieces he collected during his life. Noteworthy uncollected and posthumously collected works are given separate entries, as are major characters in the novels, family members, friends, and other persons important to understanding his writings. There are also entries on Dreiser's publishers, his major influences, the places and events important to his life, and the literary and social contexts of his works. Expert contributors wrote each of the entries, many of which cite works for further reading. The volume closes with a selected bibliography of works by and about Dreiser.