Tag Archives: теодор драйзер

review of Theodore Dreiser, “Dawn” – New Masses


John Herrmann review of Dawn – New Masses, September 1931


posted here:

review of Theodore Dreiser, Dawn

reviewed by John Herrmann

New Masses

September 1931

pg. 19


Note the mention of Heywood Broun. In a contemporaneous article, it was stated:

It’s really embarrassing. When one the great fixed stars of the bourgeois heavens suddenly forsakes its accustomed course and goes off on a tangent. what are the high-priests of bourgeois society to do:? They do what the world of exploiters and sycophants has always done: they declare that the star was never anything but a minor satellite of insignificant magnitude, that its efforts to attract attention are indeed pathetic, etc., etc. In other words, they do what the high-priests of the bourgeois literary world are now doing in the case of Theodore Dreiser. Led by the “socialist” buffoon, job racketeer, white chauvinist and dean of the Hotel Algonquin poker players, Heywood Broun, the literary medicine-men are desperately trying to exorcise the evil apparition of the new Theodore Dreiser—the Dreiser who denounces lynchers and coal operators and A. F. of L. betrayers—by the simple process of declaring that Dreiser, the great American novelist, does not and never did exist. Thus, in his latest diatribe against Dreiser, Broun writes: “Theodore Dreiser is an excellent novelist of the second class” (N. Y. World-Telegram. August 7, 1931). Broun is charitable—he concedes Dreiser second-class rating. It’s too bad that Dreiser isn’t content with this second-class rating that Broun has given him, but has indulged in a lot of “posturing and passion for publicity.” This about a man who most of his life worked in obscurity, suffering poverty and official persecution, who has shunned the bright lights of the fashionable literary and art world, who has almost a pathological aversion to appearing in public. That’s putting it on a little thick—especially when it comes from one of the cheapest publicity hounds that ever got his name into print.

That Bill Green, president of the A. F. of L., attacks Dreiser is only to be expected. Green is defending his class interests (the interests of the bourgeoisie) and his functional role as a strikebreaker and betrayer of the workers. But what of the literary gentry, those lofty souls who are always so keen about keeping politics out of ‘art”? Dreiser has committed the unpardonable sin; at an age when he should know better he has attacked the foundations of capitalist society, he has aligned himself with dangerous outlaw elements—“Reds,” Communists; he has raised his voice for the working class and against the capitalist class. And suddenly: his books are awful, he never could write, he’s only a ham, etc. The literary birds of prey (most of whom were only yesterday singing his praises) are busily pecking away.

— “Theodore Dreiser: The Old and the New,” By A. M. Magil, Daily Worker, August 28, 1931, pg. 4

Heywood Campbell Broun Jr. (1888-1939) was an American journalist and a member of the Algonquin Round Table. He worked as a sportswriter, newspaper columnist, and editor in New York City.


posted by Roger W. Smith

   November 2021

re Chester Gillette’s parents – Watertown (NY) Herald 4-26-1907



‘Chester Gillette’s Parents’ – Watertown (NY) Herald 4-26-1907 (2)


The name of Gillette’s father, here misspelled, was Frank Gillette.

Note the following:

Denver directory, 1907
Gillette, E J Mrs, dressmkr, rms 1747 Wellington
Gillette, Frank S., rms 1408 Delaware

Denver directory, 1908
Gillette, E J Mrs, dressmkr, rms 311 16th
Gillette, Frank S., engineer, rms 1416 Delaware

Frank S. was Chester’s father.


— posted by Roger W. Smith
   November 2021

what was Gillette’s motive?



I have been studying the trial transcript of the Gillette-Brown murder case.

What about the “other woman” (Sondra Finchley in Dreiser’s An American Tragedy)?

We know that there was no such romance in actuality. But what was Gillette’s motive?

I have pointed out that Harriet Benedict, rumored to be the other woman in the actual case, with brief reports to that effect in newspapers, was not only not engaged to Gillette; she did not have a romance with him.

But Gillette and Miss Benedict (later Mrs Levi Chase) were acquainted, and witnesses in the trial transcript reported occasionally seeing them in public together.

What do I think Gillette’s motive was? It is significant that while many employees at the skirt factory in upstate Cortland, NY where Gillette and Grace Brown worked saw them flirting and talking more than usual during work hours, it was commented upon that no one ever saw them out together in public. Gillette would visit Grace in the evening at her landlady’s house.

Gillette was the poor nephew, from humble beginnings, of factory owner Noah H. Gillette, his uncle. His cousin, Harold R. Gillette, was a supervisor at the factory. (Just as in the novel, the cousin seemed to have had little personal contact with Gillette.) I think Gillette did not want his romance with Grace Brown to become known because it would ruin his chances for professional advancement and his reputation — including, perhaps, his chances of marrying a rich girl. He seemed ashamed of the relationship.

He seems to have thought that he could do away with Grace “quietly” and escape detection. Then he could have returned to the factory from his “vacation” and resume his normal life. He was definitely interested in girls and in becoming a regular, accepted member of the Cortland social set.


— 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


Ignatieff, “American Literature in the Soviet Union”


Ignatieff, ‘American Literature in the Soviet Union’


posted here (PDF file above)

American Literature in the Soviet Union

By Leonid Ignatieff

The Dalhousie Review 35.1 (1955)

pp. 56-66

Note the comments on Dreiser on pp. 57-58.


— posted by Roger W. Smith

   November 2021

“Horace Liveright: Publisher of the Twenties” (the chapters on Dreiser)



Horace Livreright, ‘Theodore Dreiser’


Horace Liveright, ‘An American Tragedy’



I have posted here excepts from the following book:

Horace Liveright: Publisher of the Twenties

By Walker Gilmer

New York: David Lewis, 1979

namely, the following chapters in their entirety:

“Theodore Dreiser,” pp. 39-59

“An American Tragedy,” pp. 134-152

plus footnotes


— Roger W. Smith

   November 2021



Horace Liveright

Roger W. Smith, “Some Thoughts About Dreiser” now in Russian (Роджер В. Смит «Некоторые мысли о Драйзере» теперь на русском языке)


My article “Some Thoughts About Dreiser: What a Close Acquaintance With His Life and Works Reveals”

posted at

Roger W. Smith, “Some Thoughts About Dreiser; What a Close Acquaintance With His Life and Works Reveals”


is now available in Russian translation

Both the original English and the Russian transaction are posted at the link above.


— Roger W. Smith

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

an exchange of emails about Dreiser, “Vanity, Vanity, Saith the Preacher,” and Joseph G. Robin


biographical sketch of Joseph G. Robin

Helen Dreiser re Joseph G. Robin

Joseph G. Robin obit – NY Times 4-10-1929

Theodore Dreiser, Introducton to Odin Gregory, ‘Caius Gracchus’

‘Bank Owner Began on a Shoe-String’ – NY Times 12-28-1910

‘Cheney Shuts Northern Bank’ – NY Times 12-28-1910

‘Robin Hiding Here in Jerome’s Custody’ – NY Times 12-29-1910

‘Robin Indicted; Looted Bank Shut’ – NY Times 12-30-1910

‘Robin Place to be Sold’ – NY Times 2-21-1911

‘Robin Trial Begins; Insanity Plea Vain’ – NY Times 2-28-1911

‘Robin Is Writing Book on Bank Deals’ – NY Times 4-5-1911


I received the following email last week:

Been enjoying your Dreiser site. Have to confess I didn’t even know the name of Chester Gillette before reading it on your site. I would very much like to see the Von Sternberg movie (An American Tragedy, 1931] after your review. I never made it all the way through A Place in the Sun.

Do you know if there are any extant recordings of Dreiser’s voice? I read that he did some radio interviews but I have not any luck finding them.

I’d also be interested in finding some more material on Joseph G. Robin aka Rabinowitz aka Odin Gregory, the subject of “Vanity, Vanity Sayeth the Preacher” and for whom Dreiser provided the introduction to the play Caius Gracchus.




The following is my reply.

In the Theodore Dreiser papers at the University of Pennsylvania, there is a 33-1/3 LP recording of a 1939 interview with Dreiser. There must be recordings somewhere of radio broadcasts which Dreiser made, such as those he made over the Mutual Broadcasting System and the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in 1940. I have never heard a recording of Dreiser’s voice.

Regarding the financier called X____ in Dreiser’s sketch ”Vanity, Vanity,” Saith the Preacher” (in Dreiser’s Twelve Men), his name, as you note, was Joseph G. Robin. Dreiser met Robin, a banker and financier, in 1908 when the former was an editor at Butterick Publishing Company.

Information about Robin is provided by Robert Coltrane in his essay “The Crafting of Dreiser’s Twelve Men” (Papers on Language & Literature, Spring 1991), in the textual notes to the edition of Twelve Men edited by Coltrane (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), and in Coltrane’s entry ”Vanity, Vanity,” Saith the Preacher” in A Theodore Dreiser Encyclopedia.

In the conclusion to Vanity, Vanity,” the narrator of the sketch (Dreiser) says that he saw Robin passing on the street in New York in 1918 and that “I have never seen or heard from since.” But. as Coltrane points out, Dreiser “had kept up with Robin’s fortunes” in subsequent years (“J.G. Robin is still around–a failure.” Dreiser to H. L. Mencken, April 8, 1919) and entries in Dreiser’s diary “indicate a continuing relationship [between Dreiser and Robin] at least through 1925.”

Coltrane notes that “Dreiser had to some extent ‘novelized’ Robin in The Financier . … [Dreiser] had already used Robin’s personality some years earlier [prior to writing the sketch for Twelve Men] to create Frank Cowperwood.” Indeed, Robin was very much a Cowperwood-like figure, with his taste for finery and art, among other things.

In My Life with Dreiser, Dreiser’s second wife Helen Dreiser discussed the Robin-Dreiser relationship. See attached PDF.

Dreiser’s introduction to Robin’s play Caius Gracchus: A Tragedy  (Boni & Liveright, 1930), written under the pseudonym Odin Gregory, is posted here.

I have also posted here several New York Times articles about Robin.


— Roger W. Smith

   October 25, 2021