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The Last Titan

A Life of Theodore Dreiser

Jerome Loving (Author)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 528 pages
ISBN: 9780520234819
March 2005
$42.95, £31.95
Other Formats Available:
When Theodore Dreiser first published Sister Carrie in 1900 it was suppressed for its seamy plot, colloquial language, and immorality—for, as one reviewer put it, its depiction of "the godless side of American life." It was a side of life experienced firsthand by Dreiser, whose own circumstances often paralleled those of his characters in the turbulent, turn-of-the-century era of immigrants, black lynchings, ruthless industrialists, violent labor movements, and the New Woman. This masterful critical biography, the first on Dreiser in more than half a century, is the only study to fully weave Dreiser's literary achievement into the context of his life. Jerome Loving gives us a Dreiser for a new generation in a brilliant evocation of a writer who boldly swept away Victorian timidity to open the twentieth century in American literature.

Dreiser was a controversial figure in his time, not only because of his literary efforts, which included publication of the brutal and heartbreaking An American Tragedy in 1925, but also because of his personal life, which featured numerous sexual liaisons, included membership in the communist party, merited a 180-page FBI file, and ended in Hollywood. The Last Titan paints a full portrait of the mature Dreiser between the two world wars—through the roaring twenties, the stock market crash, and the Depression—and describes his contact with important figures from Emma Goldman and H.L. Mencken to two presidents Roosevelt. Tracing Dreiser's literary roots in Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, and especially Whitman, Loving has written what will surely become the standard biography of one of America's best novelists.
Preface
Acknowledgments

1. Hoosier Hard Times
2. A Very Bard of a City
3. This Matter of Reporting
4. Survival of the Fittest
5. Editorial Days
6. The Writer
7. Sister Carrie
8. Down Hill and Up
9. Return of the Novelist
10. Life after the Titanic
11. The Genius Himself
12. Back to the Future
13. An American Tragedy
14. Celebrity
15. Tragic America
16. Facing West

Selected Works of Theodore Dreiser
Abbreviations
Notes
Index
Jerome Loving, Distinguished Professor of English at Texas A&M University, is author of Walt Whitman: The Song of Himself (California, 1999), Lost in the Customhouse: Authorship in the American Renaissance (1993), and Emily Dickinson: The Poet on the Second Story (1986), among other books. He is editor of Frank Norris's McTeague (1995), Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass (1990), and Civil War Letters of George Washington Whitman (1975).
“The best critical biography of this important writer published to date.”—D. R. Stoddard Choice
“It's easy to see why a biographer would be attracted to such rich subject matter.”—Publishers Weekly
“A detailed and engrossing biography that goes W.A. Swanberg's 1965 Dreiser one better. Loving discusses his subject's novels in the context of his life . . . He connects the literature to the life and illuminates both.”—Tony Lewis Providence Journal
An impressive critical biography, Loving offers a meticulously researched, gracefully written, and judicious assessment of this figure who helped change the course of American Literature.”—Vincent Fitzpatrick American Literature
“Loving makes a convincing case for why Dreiser’s collective body of work can and should be considered pathbreaking . . . [a] sweeping and meticulously researched biography.—Journal Of American History
“Jerome Loving skillfully narrates the irregular journey of ‘The Father of American Realism’ to ‘Sister Carrie’ and beyond. Avoiding the pitfalls of dry literary biography, Loving interweaves to a rare degree Dreiser's life, ideas and creative struggles in a style not only readable but graceful.”—Martin Northway St Louis Post-Dispatch
“Full of arresting details and sound judgments.”—D J Taylor The Independent
“A literary biography that reaches Dreiserian heights.”—Carl Rollyson New York Sun
“A vivid and engaging biography, one that combines thorough scholarship, fine writing and even-handed critical appraisal of Dreiser's work.”—Nick Crews Indianapolis Star
“Jerome Loving made a wise call in picking Dreiser for a biographical subject: he was rich and poor, high-minded and petty, brilliant and frustrating. Better still, he exemplified his times. . . . Loving's book is admirably comprehensive, and he sagely draws clear lines between the formative moments in Dreiser's life and the characters in his fiction.”—Mark Athitakis Chicago Sun-Times
“Richly detailed. . . . Loving has crafted a readable and lively biography that will undoubtedly revive interest in this major pioneering force in American letters. . . . This study belongs in every library that claims an interest in modern American literature.”—Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, MO Library Journal
"Jerome Loving is a major American biographer, and he has taken up the life of a central literary figure in The Last Titan. It is the best biographical study of Dreiser that has yet been written. Loving has an experienced hand, and he seems to know exactly where to go in the life, how to make the life available to the reader, and how to make one at least believe that this is how the great novels—Sister Carrie, An American Tragedy—and the other fascinating works by Dreiser got written. Loving obviously knows everything there is to know about Dreiser, and he has made an elegant selection here, fashioning a life of the author that has all the narrative momentum of a novel."—Jay Parini, author of Robert Frost: A Life

"Jerome Loving has produced an immensely readable, lively, detailed account of Theodore Dreiser's life, always with one eye on Dreiser's great books. This is vivid biography, bringing the man very much to life. The streets, the newsrooms, the rented rooms, the yearning of the young Dreiser for money, fame, women, good things in life, keeps reminding the reader of Dreiser's own Carrie and Clyde."—Robert D. Richardson, Jr., author of Emerson: The Mind on Fire

"Jerome Loving has a real gift for biography: he has the ability to draw both the big and the small picture and to bring them into mutual focus. While the major events in Dreiser's life are known, Loving brings an assortment of new details and intelligent conjecture to this compelling story. This will be the prevailing version of Dreiser's life."—Richard Lehan, author of The City in Literature: An Intellectual and Cultural History, and editor of Theodore Dreiser: Sister Carrie, Jennie Gerhardt, Twelve Men

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