‘Poor Dreiser’ (re Dorothy Dudley’s Forgotten Frontiers) – The Bookman, Nov 1932
Posted here (downloadable Word document above) is the following article:
CHRONICLE AND COMMENT: Poor Dreiser
The Bookman; a Review of Books and Life
Volume 75. Issue 7
This article is cited in Theodore Dreiser: A Primary Bibliography & Reference Guide by Donald Pizer, Richard W. Dowell, and Frederic E. Rusch as follows: “Expresses pity for Dreiser at having been the victim of Dorothy Dudley’s pretentious, philosophically silly biography (Forgotten Frontiers: Dreiser and the Land of the Free), which was still committed to the Greenwich Village causes of the early 1920s and provided little new and useful information. Even Dreiser deserved better.”
I do not feel that the writer of this anonymous article held Dreiser in much esteem. Consider the introductory paragraph:
We should never have believed that there could be a book on Theodore Dreiser written in worse English than the Master’s own. But that startling feat has been accomplished by Dorothy Dudley in Forgotten Frontiers, subtitled Dreiser and the Land of the Free. It is a temptation to say that Dreiser has only received his due; but fairness demands the admission that he deserved a better fate in the first lengthy volume devoted by another to his career and work. After all, with all his incompetence as a writer and with all his muddy, childish ideas, he did succeed in putting a number of veracious records of his time into books. Miss Dudley lacks the veraciousness, shares his ideas–plus a few more even too silly for him–and outdoes him in language. Hers is not the pathetic or laughable blundering of one born lacking a sense for words, but a pretentiousness almost beyond endurance. …
The above document is a complete transcription.
A personal note:
I read Dorothy Dudley’s Forgotten Frontiers quite a while ago. I read but don’t remember it well — perhaps because it was poorly written and not well focused.
I agree with the criticisms expressed in this scathing and very well written Bookman piece. Yet I don’t think the book is a total waste. Miss Dudley wrote with conviction. She wrote at a time when Dreiser was considered more important (then) than he is now. She knew Dreiser and was therefore privy to information that others didn’t have.
The book is, overall, weak, not well done or put together, but it is still good to have it. In conclusion, I would say that Dorothy Dudley provided a service to Dreiserians.
— posted by Roger W. Smith