Category Archives: writings by Dreiser

“The Truth about Reader’s Digest”


Dreiser preface


‘The Truth About Reader’s Digest


Posted here is Dreiser’s preface to:

The Truth about Reader’s Digest

by Sender Garlin

illustrations by William Gropper

fourth printing

New York: Forum Publishers, May 1943

as well as the entire book.


Dreiser’s preface was a letter to Sender Garlin, dated April 28, 1943.

Sender Garlin (1902-1999) was on the staff of the Daily Worker from the late 1920s through 1943.

Reader’s Digest was founded in 1922 by DeWitt Wallace with his wife Lila Bell Wallace. It soon became one of the most widely circulated periodicals in the world.

Wallace was a supporter of the Republican Party with strong anti-communist views, and the magazine reflected these beliefs. The magazine maintained a consistently conservative and anti-communist perspective on political and social issues.




an editorial comment:

Dreiser states that “I did not look at any of its material other than that relating to Science, but subsequent to that, and since there are ample sources of scientific data, I dropped it.” He was actively involved at the time in intensive study of scientific phenomena (futile and ultimately worthless) described in Louis J. Zanine‘s Mechanism and Mysticism: The Influence of Science on the Thought and Work of Theodore Dreiser.

Dreiser obviously dashed off the letter. It reflects his social and political views. But it is maddingly imprecise, like so much of Dreiser’s expository writing. Woolly is a good word for what I mean. Also verbose:

… from reading your, booklet, I gather the publication’s true attitude and import. It is all so fascinatingly sly, and to my way of thinking, criminal-since plainly it labors to belittle our chief and most valuable ally, and to forward the desires of the capitalistic group in this country that seeks-and has sought from the very beginning-to establish money-plenty and money-author­ity for the few as opposed to poverty and slavery for the masses here as elsewhere on earth. How I despise their mentally stupid and wholly material standards, particularly since this in the day when the need for scarcity for any is gone and plenty for all is here. The pity of it is that they are mentally—so thick-putting matter—show, clothes, houses—all material junk, before mind—the mind of a Shelley, for instance, or a Poe or Spencer or a Jefferson or Lincoln.

But, alas, it has to be fought out and will be. The children of the world will not always starve on five cent school lunches while the money-dunces gorge and show off from day to day and year to year.

Dreiser writing without an editor close at hand is akin to a vehicle out of control being in danger of crashing.

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   November 2021



Dreiser’s introduction to “McTeague”


Theodore Dreiser, ‘Introduction to McTeague’


Posted here, Dreiser’s introduction to:


A Story of San Francisco

By Frank Norris

with an introduction by Theodore Dreiser

Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc.

Garden City, New York, 1928




“In his Introduction, “Dreiser recalls the impact McTeague had on him and his a writer of naturalistic fiction. He praises Norris for being one of the first rank of American realistic novelists, but laments the lack of critical attention Norris has received from European and American critics who have ‘noisily lauded’ Stephen Crane, Jack Lendon, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis, and Joseph Hergesheimer while ‘evading’ Norris. Dreiser is especially angry at the attention accorded Crane and at his being credited as the pioneer realist in American fiction. That honor, he felt, properly belonged to Henry B. Fuller [author of The Cliff-Dwellers, his best known work] of Chicago.” — Charles L.P. Silet, “Theodore Dreiser’s Introduction to McTeague.” Dreiser Newsletter 8 (Spring 1977): 15–17.



posted by Roger W. Smith

   November 2021

Theodore Dreiser, “Amerikas angst von den Kommunisten”



Theodore Dreiser, ‘America’s Fear of Communism’ GERMAN


Theodore Dreiser, ‘America’s Fear of Communism’ – Der Querschnitt


Theodore Dreiser, ‘America’s Fear of Communism’ – Der Querschnitt



Posted here in the original German and English translation (documents above):

Theodore Dreiser, “Amerikas angst von den Kommunisten” (America’s Fear of Communism), Der Querschnitt, XII (August 1932): 549-550

This article is not cited in the standard Dreiser bibliography by Pizer, Dowell, and Rusch.


— posted by Roger W. Smith

   November 2021


Theodore Dreiser, “Good and Evil”



Theodore Dreiser, ‘Good and Evil’ – The North American Review, autumn 1938


Posted here:

Theodore Dreiser

Good and Evil

The North American Review 246 (Autumn 1938): 67–86


— posted by Roger W. Smith

   October 2021

Theodore Dreiser, “If Man Is Free, So Is All Matter”



Theodore Dreiser, ‘If Man Is Free, So Is All Matter’ – Forum and Century, December 1937


Clifford Barrett, ‘Have We Free Will; A Debate – Forum and Century, Decenber 1937


Posted here:

“If Man Is Free, So Is All Matter”

By Theodore Dreiser

Forum and Century 98 (December 1937): 301–304

Also posted here is Clifford Barrett’s article “Have We Free Will?” in the same issue. Barrett’s article, to which Dreiser was responding, preceded Dreiser’s.

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   October 2021

Теодор Драйзер, “Ленин” (Theodore Dreiser, “Lenin”)






lenin – new masses


Published in Pravda, April 22, 1940, pg. 7 (the seventieth anniversary of Lenin’s birth).

Published in English as “V. I. Lenin,” New Masses, April 23, 1940, pg. 16.


— posted by Roger W. Smith

   October 2021




Theodore Dreiser, “Tom Mooney”



Theodore Dreiser, ‘Tom Mooney’


Tom Mooney

by Theodore Dreiser

a pamphlet published April 1933

price 10 cents

Theodore Dreiser, “The Story of Harry Bridges”



Theodore Dreiser, ‘The Story of Harry Bridges’ – Friday


Harry Bridges – Communist Press


Posted here as a Word document is the following:

“The Story of Harry Bridges”

By Theodore Dreiser


October 4, 1940

October 11, 1940

Dreiser’s interview with Bridges was published in two successive issues. Friday (later called Scoop) was a weekly illustrated magazine, published in the early 1940s, that was financed by Communist-front organizations. Its content was consistently pro-labor.

Some news items about Harry Bridges and comments about him in the US Communist press of the time are also posted here as a Word document.




Harry Bridges (1901-1990) was an Australian-born American union leader, first with the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA). In 1937, he led several chapters in forming a new union, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), expanding members to workers in warehouses, and led it for the next 40 years. He was prosecuted for his labor organizing and believed subversive status by the U.S. government during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, with the goal of deportation. This was never achieved.

Bridges became a naturalized citizen in 1945. His conviction by a federal jury for having lied about his Communist Party membership when seeking naturalization was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1953 as having been prosecuted untimely, outside the statute of limitations. His official power was reduced when the ILWU was expelled by the CIO in 1950, but he continued to be reelected by the California membership and was highly influential until his retirement in 1977.

— Wikipedia


— posted by Roger W. Smith

   September 2021






Theodore Dreiser, “Just What Happened when the Waters of the Hudson Broke into the North River Tunnel”



‘Just What Happened When the Waters of the Hudson Broke Into the North River’



Posted here (downloadable Word document above) is the text of a very rare (now), hard to find article written by Dreiser, transcribed by Roger W. Smith.

I found this article on microfilm at the New York Public Library. It may be the only available existing copy. The article

 “Just What Happened when the Waters of the Hudson Broke into the North River Tunnel”

New York Daily News

January 23, 1904

Magazine Section, pp. 6-7

was published anonymously in the Daily News’s Sunday supplement. The New York Daily News was a daily New York City newspaper from 1855 to 1906, unrelated to the present-day Daily News, which was founded in 1919. The paper founded in 1855 folded in December 1906.

After a period during 1903 as a laborer on the New York Central Railroad, Dreiser was hired as a feature editor at the Daily News with the help of a recommendation from his brother Paul — it turned out to be a short-lived job. The paper is not the same one (as noted in the previous paragraph) as the current New York Daily News.




The disaster and ensuing tragedy which Dreiser recounts (with true reportorial skill and great attention to detail) occurred on July 21, 1880 during the construction of the first Hudson River Tunnel between New York City and Jersey City, New Jersey. A portion of a connecting chamber, on the New Jersey side of the river, caved in at 4:30 on the morning of the 21st. Twenty men were buried alive (not twenty-one as per Dreiser’s account). There were twenty-eight men working there, of whom twenty suffocated or drowned, with eight surviving. “The eight who escaped did so though the air-lock, and their rescue was almost a miracle,” The New York Times reported. (“Twenty Men Buried Alive: Caving In of the Hudson Span.” The New York Times, July 22, 1880, pg. 1)

The bodies of the men who perished were not recovered until months afterwards. The search for the bodies was completed on October 30, 1880 with the recovery of the last four bodies.

The Hudson River Tunnel Company was absolved of liability for the accident. It paid a final settlement of $500 to the widow of each of the married men who perished, and $200 to the relatives of unmarried men who perished.




Material from “Just What Happened” was reused by Dreiser in his story “Glory Be! McGlathery,” published in the Pictorial Review of January 1925. (Pictorial Review 26 [January 1925]: 5-7, 51-52, 54, 71)

The Pictorial Review  story was reprinted under the title “St. Columba and the River” in Dreiser’s Chains: Lesser Novels and Stories (New York, Boni & Liveright, 1927).

“St. Columba and the River” was dramatized in the form of a musical under the title Sandhog: A Folk Opera in 3 Acts — in a “re-creation” by Earl Robinson (singer and pianist) with Waldo Salt (narrator). Sandhog was performed at the at the Phoenix Theater in New York from November 1954 through January 1955.




The library’s copy has been torn and smudged in places, making some words and lines undecipherable.

Another post will be forthcoming in which I will discuss how Dreiser adapted the actual story for his short story “Glory Be! McGlathery”; Dreiser’s sources; and how Dreiser might have gained knowledge of the tunnel disaster and about the tunnel workers called sandhogs.



— posted by Roger W. Smith

   November 2020

Theodore Dreiser, “This Madness”




image (3)


‘This Madness. Aglaia’ – Cosmopolitan, February 1929


‘This Madness. Aglaia’ – Cosmopolitan, March 1929


‘This Madness. The Story of Elizabeth’ – Cosmopolitan, April 1929


‘This Madness. The Story of Elizabeth’ – Cosmopolitan, May 1929


‘This Madness. The Book of Sidonie’ – Cosmopolitan, June 1929


‘This Madness. The Book of Sidonie’ – Cosmopolitan, July 1929


“You people may not realize it, but in ‘This Madness’ you are publishing the most intimate and important work so far achieved by me,” Theodore Dreiser told us after we had completed arrangements for his new novel to appear in Cosmopolitan. We do realize it, Mr. Dreiser. We realize that no man, certainly no American, has written so honestly, so frankly, about the part love plays in the life of a great artist.

We believe you readers of Cosmopolitan also realize what a privilege it has been to you to have the opportunity to read such an outstanding piece of realism before book publication.

— Theodore Dreiser, “This Madness: The Book of Sidonie,” Hearst’s International combined with Cosmopolitan 86 (June 1929), pg. 83



“… what women who had read Theodore Dreiser’s senile and at the same time romantic and egotistical account of his love life in ‘This Madness,’ … would willingly intrust to him the task of recording and interpreting her life?” — Ruth Kennell, review of A Gallery of Women by Theodore Dreiser, Chicago Daily News, December 11, 1929




Posted here (downloadable Word documents above) is the entire text of “This Madness,” a novella by Theodore Dreiser that was published in six installments in Hearst’s International combined with Cosmopolitan in 1929.

The novella was about 56,000 words in length. This is over a third — approximately — of the length of Sister Carrie.

“This Madness” has never been republished; it never appeared in book form.




The six installments are posted here as separate Word documents:


Theodore Dreiser, “This Madness [Aglaia],” Hearst’s International combined with Cosmopolitan 86.2 (February 1929): 22-27, 192-203

Theodore Dreiser, “This Madness: Part Two—Aglaia,” Hearst’s International combined with Cosmopolitan 86.3 (March 1929): 44-47, 160-66

Theodore Dreiser, “This Madness: The Story of Elizabeth,” Hearst’s International combined with Cosmopolitan 86 (April 1929): 81-85, 117-20

Theodore Dreiser. “This Madness [The Story of Elizabeth],” Hearst’s International combined with Cosmopolitan 86 (May 1929): 80-83, 146-154

Theodore Dreiser, “This Madness: The Book of Sidonie,” Hearst’s International combined with Cosmopolitan 86 (June 1929): 83-87, 156-68

Theodore Dreiser, “This Madness [Sidonie],” Hearst’s International combined with Cosmopolitan 87 (July 929): 86-87, 179-186



The New York Public Library has bound copies of these issues of the magazine. I believe that they are not readily available or obtainable elsewhere. The NYPL’s set may be unique.

The above transcriptions were done by Roger W. Smith. who copied, typed, and proofread the text.

Commentary (mine) on “This Madness” is forthcoming.

posted by Roger W. Smith

  April 2020