Monday, May 10, 2010

Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy

I'm still working on this book (I have been for about two years now). I think this is the longest I've ever spent trying to read a book with one exception -20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which I've been reading for about sixteen years. I've never finished it because it always gives me nightmares. Long story, don't ask.

I'm just updating the quotes from what I have read so I don't have to keep track of loose paper.

An American Tragedy
Theodore Dreiser

"As they sang, this nondescript and indifferent street audience gazed, held by the peculiarity of such an unimportant-looking family publicly raising its collective voice against the vast skepticism and apathy of life."

"Plainly pagan rather than religious, life interested him [Clyde], although as yet he was not fully aware of this."

"Yet the family was always "hard up," never very well clothed, and deprived of many comforts and pleasures which seemed common enough to others. And his father and mother were constantly proclaiming the love and mercy and care of God for him and for all. Plainly there was something wrong somewhere."

"...as he and all the children could see, God did not show any very clear way, even though there was always an extreme necesity for His favorable intervention in their affairs."

"...she [Elvira] had become inoculated with the virus of Evangelism..."

"He [Clyde] was one of those interesting individuals who looked upon himself as a thing apart - never wholly and indissolubly merged with the family of which he was a member, and never with any profound obligations to those who had been responsible for his coming into the world."

"And yet the world was so full of so many things to do - so many people were so happy and so successful. What was he to do? Which way to turn? What one thing to take up and master - something that would get him somewhere. He could not say. He did not know exactly."

"Despite the atmosphere in which she moved, essentially she was not of it."

"This, then, most certainly was what it meant to be rich, to be a person of consequence in the world - to have money. It meant that you did what you pleased."

"Who were these people with money, and what had they done that they should enjoy so much luxury, where others as good seemingly as themselves had nothing?"

"And yet this whole adventure [whorehouse] and the world in which it was laid, once it was all over, was lit with a kind of gross, pagan beauty or vulgar charm for him."

"Brought up amid comparative luxury, without having to worry about any of the rough details of making a living, she [Myra] had been confronted, nevertheless, by the difficulties of making her own way in the matter of social favor and love - two objectives which, without beauty or charm, were about as difficult as the attaining to the extreme wealth by a beggar...she had seen the lives of other youths and maidens in this small world in which she moved passing gayly enough, while hers was more or less confined to reading, music, the business of keeping as neatly and attractively arrayed as possible, and of going to visit friends in the hope of possibly encountering somewhere, somehow, the one temperament who would be interested in her, had saddened, if not exactly soured her."

"Oh, the devil - who was he [Clyde] anyway? And what did he really amount to? What could he hope for from such a great world as this...for all at once he felt himself very much of a nobody."

"The poor must stand together everywhere."

Mr. Griffiths: "...not such a bad place to begin, either - at the bottom. The best people start there sometimes."

Gilbert: "That's the trouble with people who don't know. They're always guessing."

"For to her [Ruza]...he [Clyde] seemed almost too perfect to be real."

"As for the parents of Roberta, they were excellent examples of that native type of Americanism which resists facts and reveres illusion...They appear, blunder, and end in a fog."

"...the world-old dream of all of Eve's daughters, from the homeliest to the fairest - that her beauty of charm might some day and ere long smite beweitchingly and so irresistibly the soul of a given man or men." (*smirk* Sexist prick)

"Oh, how sad to see the world so gay and she [Roberta] so lonely."

"In loneliness and resent and disappointmment, his [Clyde] mind now wandered..."

"It was so hard to be poor, not ot have money and position and to be able to do in life exactly as you wished."

"...she [Roberta] wanted to put her arms aorund him [Clyde]...have him hold her tight...what would people think -say- if they knew? She was a bad girl, really, and yet she wanted to be this way - near him - now as never before."

"...all her [Roberta] desires...urged her to run after him before it was too late and he was gone. His beautiful face, his beautiful hands. His eyes...She paused, feeling that she could neither go forward nor stand still - understand or endure this sudden rift in their wonderful friendship..."

"She [Roberta] felt numb and cold and now shook her head in a helpless and distracted way. He [Clyde] couldn't be that mean. He couldn't be be that cruel to her now - could he? Oh, if he but knew how difficult - how impossible was the thing he was asking of her! Oh, if the day would only come so that she could see his face again!"

"The misery of his indifference she could scarcely endure it from minute to minute..."

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