The Titan of the American literature

After all, the most important thing in life is life itself...

Theodore Dreiser

Theodore Dreiser – a famous American writer and public figure, has long taken an honorable place among the classics of world literature. His works dealing with acute social problems have enjoyed great success among readers all over the world and still arouse the liveliest interest.  His novels, short stories, essays, dramatic works rightfully belong to the best examples of realistic literature. Among them, the novels "Sister Carrie" (1900), "Jenny Gerhardt" (1911), "The Financier" (1912), "Titan" (1914), "Genius" (1915), "American Tragedy" (1925) and others are especially popular.

Theodore Dreiser was born on August 27, 1871 in a poor and large emigrant family (his father emigrated from Germany, and his mother from Czech Moravia). Researchers note numerous dramatic episodes in the life of this family. Having failed in his entrepreneurial activity (the wool spinning factory, co-owned by the Dreiser couple, burned down) and, having received a serious injury, the father of the future writer left real life for religion and stopped supporting his family.

The family survived thanks to the earnings of the mother, who washed the neighbors and cleaned their houses. Theodore, along with other children, helped his mother from an early age, carrying laundry to customers and collecting pieces of coal that fell out of the wagons to heat his house. Hunger, cold and deprivation were the constant companions of the family.

At the age of 16, Theodore graduated from a municipal school, where he became seriously interested in literature, reading everything he could get in the local library. In search of earnings, the young man goes to Chicago, having gone through many professions in two years of half-starved existence. He worked in a restaurant, performing the duties of a delivery boy, a dishwasher and a cleaner.

1889 gave Theodore the opportunity to slightly increase the level of education: for a year he studied at Indiana University. This was made possible thanks to his former teacher M. Fielding, who was able to pay for one course of study. Despite successfully passing the exams, Theodore is forced to interrupt his studies due to lack of funds for its further payment. For the next two years, he works as a clerk, a laundry carrier, a fee collector.

Close contact with people belonging to the most diverse social strata of American society enriched the ideas of the future prose writer about the nature of relationships between people and became the source of many storylines in future works.

From 1892 to 1894, Dreiser tried himself as a reporter for a number of newspapers in Chicago, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Toledo. Since 1897, he began to publish essays and short stories on the pages of popular magazines of those years.

In addition to novels, Theodore Dreiser has also published several collections of short stories and journalistic essays. In 1930, Dreiser was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. By a majority of votes, the prize was awarded to the writer Sinclair Lewis.

Dreiser is a naturalist artist. He builds his works on the colossal material of observations and experience. Dreiser conveys everyday life in all its smallest details, he introduces documents, sometimes almost entirely taken from reality. The writer in all his works tends to social themes, he moves them to the plane of the individual psyche, eventually showing the psychologically individual side of large social phenomena. Dreiser was early feels a love for working people and a hatred for all kinds of oppressors.

Dreiser was among the few Western writers who supported the October Revolution in Russia. In November 1927, at the invitation of the Soviet government, he visited the USSR. The result of the trip was the book "Dreiser looks at Russia" (1928) and the novel "Ernita", which was included in the collection "Gallery of Women" (1929), where for the first time in American literature the communist hero is derived as a positive image.

Dreiser was not only a writer, but also a prominent public figure. Being a pacifist, he actively opposed the outbreak of war, was one of the organizers of the Amsterdam Congress for the Defense of Peace and Culture (1932), fought against fascism. In 1938, Dreiser became a delegate to the Paris anti-war conference and visited war-torn Spain, where he organized a meeting with the country's top officials. After his meeting with Roosevelt, Spain received humanitarian aid.

In July 1945, Dreiser joined the Communist Party of the USA.

The writer died on December 28, 1945 in the Los Angeles suburb of Hollywood at the age of 75.

                                                                        Nazira Artykbayeva, librarian of the International Book Department