An American Tragedy An American Tragedy question


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The Great American Novel; which one is?
James Hurtt James Feb 09, 2014 10:02AM
I HAVE JUST STARTED REREADING "AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY" WHICH I HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT DOING FOR MANY, MANY YEARS NOW - IF YOU LIKE YOU CAN FIND ME ON WritersCafe.org id Lordjim with discussion there or here. Jim



I've read "Tragedy" twice and would at least put it in my own top ten "great American novels" list. A heartbreaking look at the class system in America and it's potential consequences for individuals.


How about not only a great American novel, but a great novel in the world stage. I read it this year and I keep referring to it and talking about it with my friends in KENYA.


Dreiser is proof you can write a great novel with clumsy prose. I also rate "Sister Carrie" very high.


Mike (last edited Jun 15, 2014 07:03PM ) Jun 15, 2014 06:09PM   0 votes
Personally, I've always had a problem with Dreiser's writing; I think it's, well, dry. However, this story is a good one. All that said, I don't think it makes the grade for "The Great American Novel."

I don't mean to imply that there aren't arguments in its favor, but the thing missing from "An American Tragedy," despite its name, is something uniquely American. Woody Allen's "Match Point" is a good example of how the story can be recognizably set in another country without losing its essence.

The debate for The Great American Novel is endless. But sometimes I wonder if it's possible to find something uniquely American in the greatest novels (or, indeed, something uniquely national in the greatest novels of any country) which, in my opinion, are often great because they tell stories that capture something universal about the human condition.

Books that are truly and distinctly "American" are often forgettable, like James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales. Maybe I'm missing something obvious (Cather? Wharton? Faulkner? McCarthy?) but that's my gut feeling.


This is an amazing novel. I couldn't put it down and in spite of its length, read it very quickly. The class struggles, the love story, the history of it, make it rich and fascinating.

U 25x33
Reimannkimberly I listened to it on audio, it was very good, and as " Place in the Sun" is one of my favorite movies, it was great to get the whole story! ...more
Feb 09, 2014 06:32PM
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Paul Listening to "Tragedy" on audio must require a lot of patience, considering how long the novel is! But I'm not used to listening to fiction on audio-I ...more
Feb 10, 2014 10:59AM

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