Richard Wright’s Native Son is the most powerful American novel to appear since The Grapes of Wrath. It has numerous defects as a work of art, but it is only in retrospect that they emerge, so overwhelming is its central drive, so gripping its mounting intensity. No one, I think, except the most unconvertible Bourbons, the completely callous, or the mentally deficient, can read it without an enlarged and painful sense of what it means to be a Negro in the United States of America seventy-seven years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Native Son does for the Negro what Theodore Dreiser in An American Tragedy did a decade and a half ago for the bewildered, inarticulate American white. The two books are similar in theme, in technique, in their almost paralyzing effect on the reader, and in the large, brooding humanity, quite remote from special pleading, that informs them both.
— Clifton Fadiman, review of Native Son by Richard Wright, The New Yorker, March 2, 1940
David Lord, ‘Dreiser Today’ – Prairie Schooner 1941
Posted above as a downloadable PDF file is an important article on Dreiser that provides a comprehensive assessment of his critical reception in which his strengths and weaknesses as a writer are assessed from various standpoints and with reference to prominent critics with varying views:
David Lord, “Dreiser Today,” Prairie Schooner 15.4 (winter 1941): 230-239.
It is a well written and thoughtful assessment, in my opinion.
— Roger W. Smith
Posted here is a downloadable PDF file of an abridgment made by Stephen Stepanchev of his dissertation “Dreiser Among The Critics” (New York University, 1950). The abridgment is available at the New York Public Library.
Marianne Debouzy, ‘L’Irruption du Materialisme; Theodore Dreiser’
The downloadable PDF file posted above comprises a chapter from a monograph by Marianne Debouzy: La Genèse de l’Espirit de Révolte dans le Roman Américain 1875-1915 (Bibliothèque de Littérature et d’Histoire; Paris: Lettres Modernes Minard, 1968):
“L’irruption du matérialisme: Theodore Dreiser”
My thanks to Marianne Debouzy not only for giving me a copy of her book, but also for granting permission to post the chapter on Dreiser.
— Roger W. Smith
Virginia Woolf, “A Real American”; from The Essays of Virginia Woolf, Volume III, 1919-1924, pp. 86-88. Originally published in TLS, August 21, 1919.
A review of Free and Other Stones and Twelve Men which appraises Dreiser in general terms.
Virginia Woolf, ‘A Real American’