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Sister Carrie, The Financier, and The Titan

DREISER, THEODORE. Sister Carrie

New York: Doubleday, Page, 1900

Original dark red cloth. Minute touchups to foot of spine, light fading to part of upper board. Very good. Cloth case

FIRST EDITION of Dreiser’s first and most important book. Sister Carrie is “a powerful account of a young working girl’s rise to the ‘tinsel and shine’ of worldly success, and of the slow decline of her lover and protector Hurstwood. It was withheld from circulation by its publishers, who were apprehensive about Dreiser’s frank and amoral treatment of Carrie’s sexuality and ambition” (Drabble).

After Harper and Brothers declined to print the novel, Dreiser approached Doubleday, Page, and Co., which had published another naturalist novel, Frank Norris’s McTeague. Norris, an advisor for Doubleday, enthusiastically supported the publication of Sister Carrie. He later called it “the best novel I had read in M.S. since I had been reading for the firm.” Based on Norris’s praise, Walter Hines Page promised Dreiser that his firm would publish it. However, after reading the manuscript, Frank Doubleday objected that the novel was sordid. Dreiser insisted that Doubleday, Page was legally obligated to publish the book, so the firm proceeded, printing a mere 1000 copies and refusing to promote it. Only 456 copies were sold, and Dreiser received only $68.40 in royalties.

This is a handsome copy, without cracked hinges and browned spine that typically plague this book. The only brighter copy we have seen in recent years, a copy with the spine ends recolored, was priced at $30,000.

Modern Library 100 Best English-Language Novels of the 20th Century 33.

 

[with]

The Greatest American Business Novel

DREISER, THEODORE. The Financier. New York: Harper, 1912. Original cloth and dust jacket. Some rubbing and edge wear to dust jacket with slight loss, long closed split to upper joint of dj. Spine slightly darkened. A very good copy, rare in this condition in dust jacket.

FIRST EDITION. “The historic scope of his theme, the monumental architecture of his story, and the exhaustiveness of his documentation make The Financier the greatest business novel written in America of its time—and probably of all time” (Lingeman).

This is the first book in Dreiser’s Trilogy of Desire, comprising The Financier (1912), The Titan (1914), and The Stoic (1947, posthumous). The novels tell the story of the financier Frank Cowperwood, who is based on the life of American businessman Charles Tyson Yerkes. Cowperwood is a Philadelphia streetcar magnate, investor, and securities manipulator in the Gilded Age.

“It is Dreiser’s constant probing of the intertwined needs for money, art, glory, sex, and so much else that makes ‘The Financier’ the greatest of all American business novels” (Wall Street Journal, 2012).

Provenance: contemporary signature of Kate Lang on front pastedown.

 

[with]

The Titan

DREISER, THEODORE. The Titan. New York: John Lane, (1914). Original cloth and dust jacket. Slight chipping to dust jacket, one small repair to verso. An excellent copy.

FIRST EDITION. The Titan is the second book in Dreiser’s Trilogy of Desire, comprising The Financier (1912), The Titan (1914), and The Stoic (1947, posthumous). The novels tell the story of the financier Frank Cowperwood, who is based on the life of American businessman Charles Tyson Yerkes. Cowperwood is a Philadelphia streetcar magnate, investor, and securities manipulator in the Gilded Age.

When Dreiser’s publisher, Harper and Brothers, declined to publish the work because of Cowperwood’s promiscuous sexuality, Dreiser moved to John Lane. “Although the trilogy is based on the life of Yerkes, readers have often identified the drive and aspirations of Cowperwood with Dreiser himself—particularly in the financier’s love of beauty, his sexual appetites, and his will to power” (ANB).

Very scarce in a collectible dust jacket.

three first editions: $12,000