Category Archives: media mentions of Dreiser

“Dreiser Not Needed Here” (editorial), Toronto Globe and Mail, December 22, 1942

 

Toronto Globe and Mail

December 22, 1942

Dreiser Not Needed Here

  Excellent as Mr. Theodore Dreiser is as an author, he is not great enough to be able to insult British people in an interview and then expect them to listen to him as an exponent of democracy. Toronto is tolerant, but not stupid or crazy, and it certainly would be both stupid and crazy if it welcomed a public speaker who “would rather see the Germans in England than the damn’ snobs now there.” Perhaps he doesn’t know Canada has an army in England to help keep the Germans out, that many thousands of Canadians have given their lives to assist the “damn’ snobs” in destroying the most brutal thugs that ever resorted to arms – the people Mr. Dreiser admires and to whom he belongs by ancestry.”

Mr. Dreiser has no proper place on any public platform in Toronto or Canada. The sponsors of the Town Forum made a fatal mistake in bringing him here; the City Council did the right thing in acting to prevent him from speaking.

His subject was to have been “Democracy On the Offensive.” Whatever may be his ideas on democracy, he said enough to show they are contrary to those of this country. He is no morale builder for us. He had better tell his story to Hitler.
 

 

 

 

 

Oakland Tribune column on Dreiser, February 21, 1934

 

The following brief commentary by a guest contributor says a great deal about Dreiser in a few words.

”Cry on Geraldine’s Shoulder” column, Oakland Tribune, February 21, 1934

… I owe more, perhaps, to Theodore Dreiser than any other man; for he had made me see clearly and vividly the chaotic industrial forces In American life and their devastating effects upon human character.

Dreiser writes bunglingly and poorly. His style is groping, clumsy and crude, and sometimes even outrageous. He has no sense of form, and he constantly piles up irritating and useless detail. But who can forget the charming Jennie Gerhardt? Or the brutal and ruthless Cowperwood? Or the poor, pathetic Hurstwood? Or even the will-less and flabby Clyde Griffiths? No one, who has thoroughly read Dreiser.

He has an almost miraculous grip on his characters. No other American writer, except the late Ring Lardner, has had such an extensive gallery of convincing characters. And while Lardner was a merciless satirist, without the slightest trace of pity, Dreiser has almost divine pity for the helpless creatures that he has so skillfully drawn.

Although Lardner masked his savage contempt for men with a lusty humor, Dreiser totally lacks humor. And Dreiser broods incessantly on the traffic fate of his characters and the profound mystery of life: a kind of intellectual day-dreaming that probably accounts for the sluggish incoherence of his novels. The stark realism of Dreiser is shocking, convincing but disillusioning. And most novel readers seek, not disillusion, but illusion, and thus, they find Dreiser irritating and painful. But compared to the trashy concoctions of Kathleen Norris and Faith Baldwin, although both of them write about the same type of people, he is, indeed, a sincere and conscientious genius.

The essential tragedy of Dreiser’s characters is not that they rebelled against the established order, but that they accepted too naively its prejudices, its superstitions, its ideals. This is almost an obsession with Dreiser, who hates the sheer hypocrisy and tawdry pretenses of our social life. He clearly sees the cruel, ruthless forces that ripple and roar beneath our papier-mache formality; and he is fascinated with the vitality men display in trying to combat these tricky forces, although they may be defeated in the end.

I sincerely look forward to another book by Dreiser covering the depression era, but I hope that he keeps on firm ground as in “An American Tragedy,” rather than wallowing in the absurdities of “Tragic America.”
– ROBERT B.

(Bobbie B.)

 

comments by Dreiser, Chicago Daily Tribune, November 11, 1932

 

The following are remarks by Theodore Dreiser as quoted in the Chicago Daily Tribune, November 11, 1932.

 

There is an immaterial force that is shaping the world and everything in it, and it compels my reverence. I haven’t the intellect to understand it fully, but I have seen its results in various ways since I was a young boy, and I am now an old man. I am astounded by the brutality and horror rampant in the world, not only in war, but in peacetime, but there is a guiding force, and we are following through to our destiny.

 

Dreiser went on to say that rich merchant classes in all large countries have been governing them. “These men believe that they are the light of the world, that the common man does not matter, but they are being proved wrong.”

 

“Dreiser and Editor Exchange Jibes,” Atlanta Constitution, November 7, 1935

 

The Atlanta Constitution, November 7, 1931

 

Dreiser and Editor Exchange Jibes on Income and Service to Society

HARLAN, Ky., Nov 6 – (AP) – Theodore Dreiser, who came to Kentucky’s hills to investigate the sanguinary coal field controversy of the Harlan district, was transformed from prosecutor to witness today by a newspaperman who sought to learn if the famous novelist practiced what he advocated.

The newspaperman—Herndon Evans, publisher of the Pineville Sun—learned from the author of “An American Tragedy” that his annual income was approximately $35,000 and that he gave none of it to charity, but supported financially the Civil Liberties Union.

Mr. Dreiser and other New York writers were conducting the first session of their inquiry into conditions in the coal fields and were questioning Mr. Evans.

Dreiser questioned the Kentucky editor about his religion, income and other personal matters and asked Evans if he thought it fair to earn between $50 and $75 a week, while miners of the district worked for $30 and $40 a month. He had expressed the opinion the editor’s sympathies were with mine operators.

“May I ask you some questions?” Evans asked, and when Dreiser responded “Certainly,” he asked:

“What is your annual income?”

“Approximately $35,000,” said the author.

None for Charity.

“Do you give any of it to charity?”

“No.”

“That’s all,” said the newspaperman.

Dreiser asked him not to stop, but “ask me some more questions.”

Evans then asked: “Do you give to any organization?”

To which Dreiser replied he contributed to the Civil Liberties Union and “other similar organizations.”

Dreiser recounted some personal matters and said there were 13 members of his family “and they were not very shrewd and couldn’t take care of themselves.”

“I am trying to take care of them,” he said, and estimated he spent between $5,000 and $6,000 a year on his family.

“You know,” he said, “I am a radical and interested in equality in government. I’m interested in social organization.”

Dreiser said he did not make any “real money until I wrote the ‘American Tragedy,’ at the age of 55.”

“Averaging my income over my life period,” he said, “I think you will find it to have been very moderate.”

Evans interrupted to say he believed he could show he had done more for charity of his income and along civic lines than Dreiser could on his earnings.

“Does that represent your theory of equality?” asked the Kentucky editor.

During Evans’ questioning, Dreiser denied he was a member of the communist party, but said he was in sympathy with some of its policies.

“I’m not a communist,” Dreiser said. “They wouldn’t take me, but I see an equity there, and that’s what I’m after. I believe we should let every country start on an equity basis and see what we get.”

“I don’t propose to import a Stalin or a Trotzky here, but there should be equity in all things.”

Both Evans and Dreiser were smiling when the session recessed after their exchange, which came at the end of a morning or routine questioning of miners and one miner’s wife.

 

[remainder of article not transcribed]