Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*Kansas City. Northwestern Missouri city in which the novel opens when the fictional Clyde Griffiths at the age of twelve years is living an uneasy life there with his urban-missionary parents. The dingy neighborhood of his parents’ Bickel Street mission contrasts sharply with the life of luxury and excitement that Clyde craves and eventually seeks, first in employment as a bellhop in an upscale hotel, where a “fast” crowd gets him into serious trouble, and later in the small eastern city where most of the novel’s action takes place.
Lycurgus. New York town between Utica and Albany, near the actual location of Troy, where Clyde Griffiths arrives at the age of twenty, goes to work in his uncle’s collar-manufacturing factory, and takes a room in a rooming house. Nearly all of the descriptions of the fictional town match the real town of Cortland, where Chester Gillette worked at a skirt factory owned by a relative. Moreover, like the historical Grace Brown, Clyde’s lover Roberta Alden works in the same factory and lives in another rooming house nearby, occasionally returning home to the rural community of Biltz.
Biltz. New York town fifty miles from Lycurgus where Roberta grew up on a poverty-stricken farm to which she returns after working in Lycurgus. Biltz’s bleak landscape contrasts depressingly with the pleasures Roberta remembers from her...
(The entire section is 474 words.)
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Bibliography and Further Reading
Bibliography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Bloom, Harold, ed. Theodore Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy.” New York: Chelsea House, 1988. One of America’s leading literary critics updates Salzman’s collection (listed below).
Gerber, Philip L. “Society Should Ask Forgiveness: An American Tragedy.” In Theodore Dreiser Revisited. Boston: Twayne, 1992. A structural analysis that also examines Dreiser’s sources, his progression through early drafts, and the novel’s effect on his career. Annotated bibliography.
Gerber, Philip L. Theodore Dreiser Revisited. New York: Twayne, 1992....
(The entire section is 249 words.)