Rotten Reviews: An American Tragedy

“The commonplaceness of the story is not alleviated in the slightest degree by any glimmer of imaginative insight on the part of the novelist. A skillful writer would be able to arouse an emotional reaction in the reader but at no moment does he leave him otherwise than cold and unresponsive. One feature of the novel stands out above all–the figure of Clyde Griffiths. If the novel were great, he would be a great character. As it is, he is certainly one of the most despicable creations of humanity that ever emerged from a novelist’s brain. Last of all, it may be said that Mr. Dreiser is a fearsome manipulator of the English language. His style, if style it may be called, is offensively colloquial, commonplace, and vulgar.”

Boston Evening Transcript

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

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