Theodore Dreiser’s novel “An American tragedy” (43069)

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"Theodore Dreiser’s novel «An American tragedy», its translation into Uzbek and Russian"


1. Theodore Dreiser

1.1 Some notes on Theodore Dreiser’s literary activity

The writer provides a third approach to this all absorbing social-biological problem of Clyde Griffiths is totally lacking in either the artistic gifts (of Witla) or the strong personality of Cowper wood. He is more like Carrie and Jennie in that his attitude toward life is passive; but he lacks their inner poise. From start to finish of his short career he is a victim of the social and biological forces which operate upon him. His instinct for fulfillment is not only thwarted by the forces without himself; his inner weakness makes even the development of a Carrie or a Jennie impossible. Thus, by choosing for his central character a boy who had practically no strength within himself through which mastery could be achieved, Dreiser in this novel throws all his emphasis on those forces of biological and social necessity which had shaped the careers of his stronger characters in spite of their protests. But by removing the only opposition that the individual can supply, the force of his own will for mastery, Dreiser here descends to the lowest possible plane of pure mechanistic determinism. The scene of the downing of Roberta Alden is carefully planned in order to remove the factor of will as an instrument. Clyde plots his act with the greatest care and carries it to its climax with apparently self-directed intention. But his hesitancy at the final moment transforms the murder into an accident, and his swimming away makes his act passive. The description of this story as a «tragedy» is almost ironic, even though Dreiser probably intended no irony. For the Fate of classical tragedy there were now substituted the necessities of social and biological mechanisms. But result is less tragic, in the classical sense, than are almost any other of Dreiser’s novels because the opposition of man to his destiny, in whatever terms, is not even provisional. To raise necessity to the level of tragedy there must be at least the illusion of possible mastery. In Carrie and Jennie and Cowper wood this illusion is present; in Witla and Clyde it is not. The unknown creative force in life, The force that drove Cowper wood to the heights of power, that tore the soul of Eugene Wilta, that sent Clyde to the electric chair is now revealed as universal love.

An American Tragedy was written about a man's life. If you read this book you can learn that you should make your general behaviors better. This story was based on his general behaviors. It was written about from his childhood to his death. Of course, he had experiences of sympathy to his family, bad behaviors, loving someone and the atonement. This book was very interesting on human living. You will be able to enjoy reading it. Because I think that you have seen people like him. If you not so, at least you have had to hear about them like him. This book consists of three sections. First section explained his poor childhood and what he was as a young man: As his family was very poor they earned living by singing in the street. Then he longed for being rich. He had shown bad behavior. He also had loved a girl for the first time. Second section accounted for his growth to adulthood and love to some girls: For his first love he had the heart which was very pure. But he was getting used to love girls. For that reason he could even love, two girls at the same time. So, he had not only made many good memories with them in love but also so many accidents with them. Third section was written about his atonement: he was arrested for his girl-friend's death by officer. I think that anyone must has shown bad behaviors in the past. For example, telling a lie, hurting a person and deceiving one. Considering to this story, he was very loose, as it were, he did not have distinctions. The reason was why he became very crazy to separate her and he atoned for his crime of killing her. I think that if he had had distinctions he would have not committed a murder. Shortly, if his regular behaviors were better such a happening would have surely never occurred. When you read this book you will look at your regular behaviors over again. So, if you find something wrong you should try to change the parts of your thoughts. You will make yourself better. That is why I think you should read this book.

In minor characters, Dreiser reveals the plight of the individual in American society; but that society itself is not static. The span of years encompassed in his novels and short stories coincides with a period of tremendous social change in America. «The Financier» opens before the Civil War. In it, as in «Sister Carrie», The «Cenius», and other novels dealing with an alder form of American society, success comes early to those who use what abilities they have. There is no contradiction between their careers and their inner natures, because society itself is plastic. But Clyde and the younger generation in «The Bulwark» are their dialectic opposites. Clyde is the most pathetic failure in Dreiser even more so than Hurstwood, Carrie’s second lover. In order to get ahead, he has to pretend, to tell social lies, and to act deceitfully. In his time the path of opportunity is no longer open, there have been alterations in the American Dream. In the early works, this dream operates as a motivation to rise on the basis of one’s talants, energies, and capacities; in the later, the dream becomes one of success by marriage in order to have a life of leisure and enjoyment. Clyde is an ambitious youth in an America more stratified than that of Cowper wood and Witla. Thus Dreiser not only reveals the meaning of American social ideals in his own lifetime and during the period immediately preceding his birth; his works also mirror the changes in those ideals, and the change in the social structure of Americans life.

1.2 The place of «An American tragedy» in Theodore Dreiser works

Dreiser’s methods of characterization are consistent with these attitudes and social revelations. Just as he does not conceive the individual as individual, so his characterizations are not mere representations at atomized men and women straggling in the American society of their time. They appear in their social roles, and their natures as well as their actions are involved in the functions which they perform in society. Carrie’s first lover, Drout, is one of the most successful and attractive of Dreiser’s minor characters. He is jolly, genial, superficial, yet he is strikingly different from the salesmen of, for example, Sinclair Lewis. Drogue does not subordinate himself to the «fetish of commodities»; a successful salesman, he is concerned with a life of pleasure, he feels secure in his world. He appears in a social role which is an integral feature of his «individuality», similarly. Hurst wood has the charm, the savoir-faire, the sophistication of the professional major-domo in a high-class saloon, concerned with meeting important personages, when he loses this position, he lasses also the personality that goes with it. His character is social rather than individual, and his defeat is that of a man who has lost his function and place in society. The tragedy in Dreiser’s novels is social tragedy. His characters do not merely represent themselves; they speak for their classes and their occupations. «An American Tragedy» would remain a tragic work even if Clyde and Roberta had not died; but it is tragic in a new sense. In Dreiser, the old terms of art are reset by the social thinking of his day. He wrote what he knew what he was. His many colloquialisms were part of the coinage of his time, and his sentimental and romantic passages were written in the language of the educational system and the popular of his formative years. In his style, as in his material, he was a child of his time, of his class. Self-educated, a type or model of the artist of plebeian origin in America, his language, like his subject matter, is not marked by internal inconsistencies. As a style, in the formal sense, it never developed at all, and he frequently permitted his novels to be revised by others before publication.

There are many passages in these novels that rise to high levels of passionate writing. In Dreiser the subject matter is always more important that the expression. Because he reveals the very nerves of American society he has exerted a more profound, a more lasting influence than any other novelist on twentieth century realistic fiction in America. Several generations of writers are already his debtors. His influence is discoverable in a seriousness of approach to the material of American life, in a greater freedom of theme, in the parallelism of ideas and phenomena. Dreiser desorbed the broad patterns of modern American experience; his successors have been more intensive in their treatment. Because he was faithful to his art and made no compromises with the censors and the pudes, his work gives a sense of totality and finality.

1.3 The Aims and task of the papers

American literature is very rich and unlimited. We know it well. Its role in world literature is huge. One of its great representatives is Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945). He is known in Uzbekistan mainly as the author of «Sister Carrie» and «An American Tragedy». Both these nice novels are translated into Uzbek language. The fifth novels was translated from Russian into Uzbek in 1971 by Erkin Nosirov. The first part of «An American Tragedy» was also translated into Uzbek by Erkin Nosirov but it was done in 1976. But these books are not studied in Uzbek literature. While to study these books and their Russian and Uzbek translations have valuable significance not only for Uzbek but for American literature as well. The interrelations between the culture as well as the literature of the Republic of Uzbekistan and America is developing day by day. There are still a lot of things to do in these branches. One of these problems is to study the peculiarities of Theodore Dreiser’s literary activity on the one hand and his works on the other. Fictional translation plays a great role in the development of Uzbek literature as well. Fictional translation has a great importance in the churchmen of our national literature, our social views. We must learn Theodore Dreiser’s depiction methods and it will feel our world views.

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