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Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy and 1920s Flapper Culture

Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy and 1920s Flapper Culture , Tulane University Throughout the great length of An American Tragedy Theodore Dreiser does not mention a specific year in which its action occurs. It is nevertheless clear from many incidental details in the setting, especially the prominence of the automobile, that he wishes his readers to understand that they are encountering contemporary events of roughly the early to mid1920s. (The novel was written during 1923­25 and published in late 1925.) One of the significant characteristics of this post-war period was the rise and prominence of the liberated young woman, commonly known as the flapper. In this essay I will examine Dreiser's use of the flapper figure in An American Tragedy in relation both to his attempt to authenticate the contemporaneousness of the "American tragedy" theme at the center of the novel and to dramatize a striking cultural irony present in the centrality of the type during this period. An American Tragedy is based on the Grace Brown-Chester Gillette murder case of 1906­08.1 Grace Brown, a resident of the upstate New York town of Cortland, was found pregnant, bruised, and drowned in an Adirondack lake in July 1906. Her lover, Chester Gillette, was convicted of murdering her after http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in American Naturalism uni_neb

Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy and 1920s Flapper Culture

Studies in American Naturalism , Volume 10 (2) – Sep 30, 2016

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Nebraska Press
ISSN
1944-6519
Publisher site
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Abstract

, Tulane University Throughout the great length of An American Tragedy Theodore Dreiser does not mention a specific year in which its action occurs. It is nevertheless clear from many incidental details in the setting, especially the prominence of the automobile, that he wishes his readers to understand that they are encountering contemporary events of roughly the early to mid1920s. (The novel was written during 1923­25 and published in late 1925.) One of the significant characteristics of this post-war period was the rise and prominence of the liberated young woman, commonly known as the flapper. In this essay I will examine Dreiser's use of the flapper figure in An American Tragedy in relation both to his attempt to authenticate the contemporaneousness of the "American tragedy" theme at the center of the novel and to dramatize a striking cultural irony present in the centrality of the type during this period. An American Tragedy is based on the Grace Brown-Chester Gillette murder case of 1906­08.1 Grace Brown, a resident of the upstate New York town of Cortland, was found pregnant, bruised, and drowned in an Adirondack lake in July 1906. Her lover, Chester Gillette, was convicted of murdering her after

Journal

Studies in American Naturalismuni_neb

Published: Sep 30, 2016

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