Art, Music and Literature, 1897-1902

Art, Music and Literature, 1897-1902

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Before coming to national attention for his novel "Sister Carrie", Theodore Dreiser worked for nearly a decade as a magazine editor and freelance writer. In this volume, liberally seasoned with period illustrations, Yoshinobu Hakutani has collected and annotated a rich selection of Dreiser's early writings on the cultural milieu of his day. In these brief essays, Dreiser sallies into the vibrant world of creative work in turn-of-the-century America. He inspects the eccentric and revealing paraphernalia of artists' studios, probes the work habits of writers, and goes behind the scenes in the popular song-writing business, where this week's celebrity is next week's has-been. He notes the proliferation of organizations such as the Camera Club of New York and the American Water-Color Society and profiles or interviews famous figures such as Alfred Stieglitz, William Dean Howells, and the legendary impresario Major James Burton Pond. He also introduces numerous women artists, novelists, and musicians, including the prolific and tireless Amelia Barr (mother of fourteen children and author of thirty-two novels), the illustrator Alice B. Stephens, and the opera singer Lillian Nordica.
Hakutani's notes provide biographical detail on dozens of now-obscure individuals mentioned by Dreiser. Bubbling up through Dreiser's observations and reflections are a keen curiosity about the creative process and a passion for identifying the peculiarly American spirit reflected in the young nation's artists and their work. These miniature portraits of the people who were the talk of the town at the turn of the century capture American culture at a moment when the United States was intent on demonstrating its ability to produce fine art and literature worthy of European models yet distinctively its own.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 159.5 x 246.9 x 35.1mm | 736.52g
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • Annotated
  • Annotated edition
  • 025202625X
  • 9780252026256

Review quote

"A welcome companion to Hakutani's two-volume collection ... the present volume reprints 33 of Dreiser's articles ... amounts to an informal survey of American arts and popular culture at the turn of the 20th century... A particular strength of the collection is the material that reveals Dreiser's interest in talented women... A frequent subtext is Dreiser's concern with the costs and consequences of American success, including occasional glimpses into his evolving career." -- Choice "Before he came to national attention for his 1900 novel Sister Carrie, Dreiser worked as a magazine editor and freelance writer. This volume comprises 33 of Dreiser's interviews and essays, most of which have not been republished since they first appeared in print... Dreiser shows a keen curiousity about the creative process and an eye for the peculiarly American spirit reflected in his subjects' work." -- Reference & Research Book News ADVANCE PRAISE "This valuable and intelligently organized volume leads the reader in two directions: inward, toward a better understanding of Dreiser at a time when he was beginning to emerge as a major writer, and outward, toward a better understanding of the artistic figures, tastes, and assumptions of the 1890s and early twentieth-century America." - Thomas P. Riggio, general editor, University of Pennsylvania Dreiser Edition "Hakutani's readable new collection of Dreiser's interviews and essays involves figures ranging from Lillian Nordica and Childe Hassam to Daniel Chester French and Alfred Stieglitz; the book reviews our appreciation of just how steady a finger Dreiser held on the pulse of the American artistic scene during those crucial turn-of-the-century years when the Modernist era struggled to be born." -- Philip Gerber, author of Theodore Dreiser
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