Sister Carrie

Sister Carrie

Book - 1981
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University of Pennsylvania Press

Hidden under layers of error and corruption, the original version of Sister Carrie has finally emerged. The editors of this new edition have gone back to the original handwritten manuscript as well as to the typescript that went to the publisher to restore the text.


Hidden under layers of error and corruption, the original version of Sister Carrie has finally emerged. The American classic that has been read in English courses for many decades is not the text as Dreiser wrote it. Even before it was submitted to Doubleday, Page and Company, the manuscript of Sister Carrie had been cut and censored. Dreiser's wife Sara-­-nicknamed "Jug"—and his friend Arthur Henry persuaded the author to make many changes. Both Jug and Henry felt that the novel was too bleak, the sexuality too explicit, the philosophy too intense.

In a description of Carrie, for instance, Dreiser had written, "Her dresses draped her becomingly, for she wore excellent corsets and laced herself with care. . . . She had always been of cleanly instincts and now that opportunity afforded, she kept her body sweet." Apparently this passage was too intimate for Jug, for she revised it to: "Her dresses draped her becomingly. . . . She had always been of cleanly instincts. Her teeth were white, her nails rosy." Jug and Henry urged Dreiser to make his bleak ending more equivocal. He changed it, but Jug, still dissatisfied, rewrote his second ending. Her version was published with the first edition and has appeared with every edition since printed. Doubleday, Page and Company further insisted that all real names—of theaters, bars, streets, actors, etc.—be changed to fictitious ones.

The editors of this new edition have gone back to the original handwritten manuscript as well as to the typescript that went to the publisher and have restored the text of Sister Carrie to its original purity. Errors of typists and printers have been corrected; cut and censored passages have been reinstated. Not only have original names been restored, but the Pennsylvania edition includes maps, illustrations, and historical notes that further identify these people and places. The edition also includes a selected textual apparatus for the scholar. The characters are significantly altered in this new text: Carrie has more emotional depth, conscience, and sexuality; Hurstwood shows more passion; Drouet is a bit less likable; Ames is a bit more vulnerable. With the inclusion of the original ending, Dreiser's vision becomes- more bleak and deterministic: In its expanded and purified form, Sister Carrie is more tragic and infinitely richer; in effect it is a new work of art by one of the major American novelists of this century.



Publisher: [Philadelphia, Pa.] : University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981
Edition: The Pennsylvania edition
ISBN: 9780812211108
0812211103
9780812277845
0812277848
Branch Call Number: FIC Dreiser, T 1981
Characteristics: xi, 679 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Audience: Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.4 26.0 76002

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KennyBania
Feb 01, 2016

This is classic Dreiser. I just read it for the second time, the first time was in 1975 for school. It's a much better read when there isn't a term paper required at the end! A bit slow and plodding but that goes well with Dreiser's books.

s
Sarah1984
Sep 04, 2014

18/7 - I enjoyed this, but can't really say why. It was quite slow, certainly slower than my normal reading choices; there were no big events and no climatic ending; and none of the main characters were people I wanted to barrack for, for more than a few pages at a time. Carrie had her sympathetic moments, but there were times when I wanted to sit her down and explain the ways of the world or shake some sense into her. I was happy that Carrie finally managed to 'make it' on her own without the help of a man (what I imagine would have been a minor miracle in those days), and almost wanted to say to her "See, you can do it on your own. Drouet and Hurstwood were just dragging you down and holding you back." It was a blessing in disguise that neither of them actually married her.

If you read my reviews regularly you might have read my views on themes and messages within books - that they're not for me and tend to go straight over my head - I just don't see them, unless they're shoved down my throat (and books that do that are another story altogether). So, I don't really know what Dreiser might have been attempting to say with this book, but I did get a feeling of feminine empowerment from Carrie's ability to survive with or without the two men who came into her life. If that's not what Dreiser was trying to say then obviously I wasn't meant to understand it, but I still managed to find enough to interest me and keep me reading (which was a feat in and of itself as at 557 pages this is now the longest book I've read this year).

FrauSison Dec 27, 2013

I first read this for an assignment for my senior English Lit. class over Christmas break in 1987. I chose the author and book from a class list of required reading. Its plot and imagery have stayed with me since then, and I wish to read it again with my middle-age perspective. It must have been a good book.

d
dms
Jul 18, 2008

Great American Novel - and a protagonist who is not male.

wonderful descriptions and some very flawed characters. a very good read. the imagery of carrie in her rocking chair is still with me.

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