Theodore Dreiser

Theodore Dreiser was an American journalist and author renowned for his novels that explore the social fabric of the early 20th-century United States. His works, such as Sister Carrie (1900) and An American Tragedy (1925), depict characters facing the turbulent changes of urbanization and industrialization.

Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, in 1871. Since his family was financially unstable, he moved frequently as a child. Despite not finishing high school, Dreiser was an avid reader, which paved the way for his career in journalism and literature. He relocated to Chicago at sixteen and later attended the University of Bloomington with financial aid from a former teacher.

As a reporter and drama critic in Chicago and New York, Dreiser began his journalism career in 1892. He published his first fiction work, The Return of Genius, under the pseudonym Carl Dreiser. His reporting and interviews with figures like Andrew Carnegie and Thomas Edison contributed to his understanding of American society.

His journalistic work extended to covering significant social issues. In January 1894, as a journalist for the St. Louis Republic, Theodore Dreiser witnessed and reported the lynching of John Buckner in Valley Park, Missouri. A year or two later, he wrote a fictional narrative based on the Buckner case, the short story Nigger Jeff.

In 1895, Dreiser became the editor of Ev'ry Month, publishing his story, Forgotten. His early literary career also included editing The Delineator, a women's magazine, achieving financial independence by 1907.

Dreiser's debut novel, Sister Carrie, emerged from his experiences and observations of urban life, portraying the struggles and aspirations of a young woman in Chicago. Despite initial controversy, the novel has become a landmark of American literature.

Dreiser continued to write, producing works like Jennie Gerhardt (1911), The Financier (1912), and The Titan (1914). In his novels, he portrays characters whose values lie not in their moral codes but in their perseverance against all odds, and situations that resemble studies of nature rather than narratives about choice and choice-making.

His study of social injustice and the darker sides of the American dream culminated in An American Tragedy (1925). This novel, based on a true crime, was Dreiser's first commercial success and reflected his ongoing concern with the impact of societal pressures on individuals.

During his involvement in politics and social causes, Dreiser defended workers' rights and criticized American capitalism. He reported on the Harlan County War and supported various social justice campaigns. Despite his earlier atheism and skepticism toward political systems, Dreiser praised the Soviet Union and joined the Communist Party USA in August 1945.

He died on December 28, 1945, aged 74.
masa pakai: 27 Agustus 1871 28 Desember 1945


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