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Sister Carrie

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  36,633 ratings  ·  1,492 reviews
When a girl leaves her home at eighteen, she does one of two things. Either she falls into saving hands and becomes better, or she rapidly assumes the cosmopolitan standard of virtue and becomes worse.'

The tale of Carrie Meeber's rise to stardom in the theatre and George Hurstwood's slow decline captures the twin poles of exuberance and exhaustion in modern city life as ne
Paperback, 580 pages
Published February 1st 1991 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 1900)
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Maria Costa I cannot answer as I'm reading a copy on Kindle. It's an interesting novel but it's full of spelling errors. I don't know if it's because it's not a p…moreI cannot answer as I'm reading a copy on Kindle. It's an interesting novel but it's full of spelling errors. I don't know if it's because it's not a paper edition but it's very surprising.(less)

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Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie was the first real book I've ever read in English. I was 11, my mother just bought me a brand-spanking-new English dictionary, and my school librarians finally let me roam the section of the library where normally kids were not allowed to wreck havoc in on their own. Awed by the idea of a big book in a language I just started to somewhat understand, I reached for it, just missing the much more age-appropriate Treasure Island - but then why'd you think I'd ever wa ...more
Aug 17, 2007 marked it as to-read
I can't believe I am actually trying to read this again. This is an oft-flung book, which has fair aerodynamics and, the hardcover copy of which makes a satisfying "thunk" as it hits the wall.
Book Review
3 out of 5 stars to Sister Carrie, one of the greatest American novels of true realistic cum naturalistic tone, published in its final form in 1900 by Theodore Dreiser. Some of my favorite literature comes from this time period in American history. Writers took extreme liberties with creating the most realistic point of view and portrayal of characters who were living the American dream, or at least attempting to. All details were painfully described when it came to what w
Michael Finocchiaro
High school read. Recall it being extremely well-written albeit quite depressing - need to re-read!
When a girl leaves her home at eighteen, she does one of two things. Either she falls into saving hands and becomes better, or she rapidly assumes the cosmopolitan standard of virtue and becomes worse.

That I prioritized 'Sister Carrie' over at least fifty other books high on the ever-expanding tbr list can be imputed to a matter of false advertising. The blurb hails Carrie as a modern woman in American fiction, a first of her kind (think Kate Chopin's The Awakening released just a year prior
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I listened to the Blackstone Audiobook which came out Nov 18, 2005. It is not registered here at GR. There are two versions of Theodore Dreiser's book. The original "Doubleday Edition" was published in 1900. This, the original, was in fact edited by his wife. It has 47 chapters. It was considered more easily accessible to the public; the harsh message of new American Naturalism softened. The Blackstone audiobook uses this version.

80 years later, the "Pennsylvania Edition" of the book came out.
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a classic that I could read over and over again. What a story! If you haven't read it, you should! The story not only captures the reader into the story, it gives you a deep sense of mans crazy nature.

I just finished reading this one again. I first read it 7 years ago, and felt is was time to try it again. Dreiser really speaks to my soul!!

"Oh Carrie, Carrie! Oh blind strivings of the human heart! Onward onward, it saith, and where beauty leads, there it follows. Whether it be the tink
Aug 15, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jonathan by: Shane Avery
In the words of Edmund Wilson, "Dreiser commands our respect; but the truth is he writes so badly that it is almost impossible to read him."

Sister Carrie is a bad book. Not morally bad, unfortunately. That at least would make it interesting. In that respect, nothing in this book would be out of place in a Progressive lecture on social purity. This line from the first page sets the tone: "When a girl leaves her home at eighteen, she does one of two things. Either she falls into saving hands and b
The more Effi Briest's, Anna Karenina's and Madame Bovarys' and their ilk I read the more Sister Carrie stands out as a thematically exciting book. The woman who makes a success of herself through an unconventional lifestyle but doesn't have to die is sharp and amusing departure from many earlier novels. Instead it is the men left in her wake who suffer. Hurstwood's collapse and inability to adapt from Chicago to New York is still fascinating.

Dresier's novel came a year too late to save Edna Pon
Jacob Appel
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I returned to this book after nearly two decades away and I found it as juicy and engrossing as ever.

I'll be the first to acknowledge that, as stylists go, Dreiser is among the least accomplished of major American novelists. Maybe only John O'Hara compares, if he's even still considered a major author. Dreiser's word choice is no more precise than that of a Ouija board, his sentences as vibrant as chewed galoshes. But reading Dreiser for his wordsmithery is like visiting Casablanca for the water
Joy D
At age eighteen, Carrie Meeber moves from a small town to the big city of Chicago, where she tries to make a living. When she runs into difficulties, rather than return home, she accepts assistance from a man who leads her to believe they will marry. She eventually becomes involved with another man who, unbeknownst to her, is already married. Carrie drifts through life with no set goals, at times encountering failure and at other times finding success. One of the primary themes appears to be the ...more
Mar 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Theodore Dreiser and Emile Zola are both in the naturalist camps of literature, and indeed, I found many similarities between Sister Carrie and Nana. The major difference however, is that Dreiser choses to lead Hurstwood, his formerly affluent male protagonist to a bitter, self-induced end in a flophouse (reminiscent of Edith Wharton's House of Mirth), while Carrie, a lowerclass woman who, it could be argued, does bad things for money and material gain, moves up the socio-econimic ladder to a po ...more

Certainly not as I remembered it! A few spoilers herein, so be warned.

This time 'round I would have welcomed a judicious editor who would have slashed 300 pages, without blinking.

Taking it all in context, I'm fairly confident this would have set America on its ear as Zola's naturalism swam across the ocean and landed its realistic little tugboat in New York and made fodder with George Hurstwood and hay with Carrie Meeber, aka Carrie Madenda, aka Sister Carrie.

And in context, I would have
Jun 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those interested in the so-called modern condition
Shelves: life-changing
Carrie's first vision of Chicago is something many of us experience on Friday nights while driving into the city, excited about whatever the night might hold. The rollercoaster of hope and desolation coursing throughout the book was as much a part of life at the turn of the 20th century as it is at the turn of the 21st.
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of "Jude the Obscure"
Shelves: fiction
Until a few weeks ago, Sister Carrie wasn’t even on my guilt pile. I was finally moved to pick the book up after seeing that it was at the top of a handwritten “you must read” list by William Faulkner. (A Facebook thing.) Until that time, I think I had always thought, vaguely, but also without reading experience proof, of Theodore Drieser as a dour sour writer from the depressing “Gilded Age.” And, now after the reading, especially after the last 75 pages or so death march of a major character, ...more
Jason Pettus
Sep 19, 2009 rated it liked it
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label

Essay #31: Sister Carrie (1900), by Theodore Dreiser

The story in a nutshell:
One of the last Victorian-style morality tales to make a big splash, Theodore Dreis
Feb 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of serious literature
Shelves: classics
This is another book I read for background information on American Literature, back when we were homeschooling our girls. I hadn't read any of Dreiser's novels, and chose this over An American Tragedy since I'm not attracted to tragedy, as a rule. The plot here isn't without its tragic elements, but my three-star rating (which actually would be 3 1/2 if I could give half stars), which expresses solid liking, demonstrates that I don't regret the read!

As the Goodreads description suggests, the plo
Jun 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like to read a classic now and then
I love that this book could have been so trashy, but transcended it all. Close your eyes and imagine this story: back in the olden days, an unsophisticated country girl goes to the big city and climbs the ranks of society as a rich man’s mistress. If a contemporary book boasted this plot, I’d pass. A lesson learned from Kathleen Winsor's Forever Amber.

But that plot presented in a classic? Brilliant! Depressing, evocative, complex! Naturalist genius! Sure, it was scandalous when it was published
Elizabeth (Alaska)
From the description, I expected this to be a fallen woman story. It is so much more than that. Carrie was young and innocent when she escaped small town Wisconsin for big city Chicago. So young - and especially so timid - that she did not know she could have hopes and dreams, let alone fulfill them. It has been a few dozen years since I was Carrie's age, but I can relate fully to that not knowing.

Dreiser's prose is simple, but his dialogue realistic. In fact, I see he is listed at Writer's Home
I enjoyed parts of this novel but it didn't always engage. To my mind the characters depicted here for one reason or another were mercenary and cold. I realise that much of that stems from the era the novel portrays but it was difficult to drum up a lot of empathy for either Carrie or her admirers.

I appreciated more the work conditions in Chicago at the turn of the century, times were tough and not for the faint hearted, only the strongest survived and flourished. From the Boxall 1000 list.
Jun 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Here's a quiz: which of the following are real examples of the overwrought chapter titles in Sister Carrie?

a. Convention's Own Tinder-Box: The Eye That Is Green
b. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
c. When Waters Engulf Us We Reach For The Stars
d. When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King
e. In a Priest Driven Ambulance (with Silver Sunshine Stares)
f. In Elf Land Disporting: The Grim World Without
g. The Blaze of the Tinder: Flesh Wars With the Flesh
h. Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son
Nov 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-for-college
Woo independent women! Sister Carrie centers on Carrie Meeber, a country girl who travels to the big city to live with her sister. After a rough patch of poverty and a couple of tumultuous relationships with men, she succeeds on her own as an actress. Her rise to fame might have no actual merit, but it exemplifies a young woman's triumph in a capitalistic, patriarchal society. She renames herself Carrie Madenda and garners massive wealth and fame.

Sister Carrie acted as another classic that had a
Ivana Books Are Magic
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sister Carrie must be the most underrated American novel of all times. I read it for literature course way back and I remember being absolutely mesmerized by it. The story drew me in and kept my interest to the very last page. It is a long novel, but I wouldn't cut out a single sentence. The writing is absolutely brilliant. The portrayal of sister Carries is masterfully done. You really feel for this girl every step of the way. Not only was Sister Carrie much better than I expected it to be, it ...more
Clif Hostetler
Feb 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Published in 1900, this book is credited with having an impact on the course of American literature. Dreiser's sparse style depicts the realities of everyday city life (Chicago and New York) at the turn of the 19th Century in a way that seems to hide nothing. It thus allows the reader to feel that they can see the characters as they really are. The novel does not judge the behavior of the characters in the story. But rather it simply lays out the story of their actions for the reader to ponder. ...more
Sister Carrie is one of a specific handful of American novels that I learned about in school, but (until now) never actually read. Along with those of Upton Sinclair, H.L. Mencken, Sinclair Lewis, Edward Bellamy and to a certain extent Stephen Crane, the works of Theodore Dreiser were always presented to me as more important to history than interesting as literature - not exactly the kind of ringing endorsement that inspires a person to run out and buy a book today. These authors were exposing s ...more
Maryam Rajee
Sep 19, 2015 rated it liked it
“When a girl leaves her home at eighteen, she does one of two things. Either she falls into saving hands and becomes better, or she rapidly assumes the cosmopolitan standard of virtue and becomes worse”
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 11, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Seminal American literature, and yet the simplest occurrence in Sister Carrie -- such as Carrie requesting meat -- reads like this:

He caught himself looking at her smiling and she was the very picture of youth and uprightness and the tendency toward productivity and mirth and joviality, all of which were produced from her in a very feminine manner. Yet thoughts dashed inside his mind in a very tumultuous fashion, tumultuous like the threshings of torrents. Carrie has not asked for meat before, H
Apr 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
It seems a shame that this novel seems to be fading into oblivion. This happens from time to time even with great writers, not because they stop being great, but because people don't know enough to read them. As the years go by, there are, admittedly, many new novels entering the literary mainstream, but we should not be afraid of making judgments about which ones are better than others. Sister Carrie has long been on the list of great American novels, and deservedly so. Dreiser's writing can be ...more
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Play Book Tag: Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser - 4 stars 5 18 Nov 18, 2019 08:33AM  
Reading 1001: Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser 1 8 May 21, 2018 10:47PM  

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Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser was an American novelist and journalist. He pioneered the naturalist school and is known for portraying characters whose value lies not in their moral code, but in their persistence against all obstacles, and literary situations that more closely resemble studies of nature than tales of choice and agency.

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