Jennie Gerhardt

"For Dreiser, Jennie Gerhardt was a good career move. Now, with this Pennsylvania edition, we know that it is also a great novel."—New York Times

Jennie Gerhardt

Theodore Dreiser. Edited by James L. W. West III

2006 | 448 pages | Paper $24.95
Fiction / Literature
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Table of Contents

Suggestions for Further Reading
A Note on the Text


Explanatory Notes

Excerpt [uncorrected, not for citation]

A Note on the Text

The text of this paperback edition of Jennie Gerhardt reproduces the Pennsylvania Edition of the novel, first published in 1992 by the University of Pennsylvania Press. That edition is an eclectic text prepared in accordance with the principles of Greg-Bowers-Tanselle copy-text editing; it represents an attempt to reconstruct an ideal text by critical, interpretive methods.

This restored edition is based on all extant documentary witnesses: an ur-manuscript, two typescripts, and a composite holograph/typescript fair copy at the Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania, and a carbon typescript (the one that H. L. Mencken read) in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. Relevant correspondence by Dreiser and others is preserved at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, the Arents Research Library at Syracuse University, and the Rare Book and Special Collections Library at the University of Illinois.

Readers interested in the theory and documentation that underpin this text of Jennie Gerhardt should consult the Historical and Textual Commentaries in the full-dress Pennsylvania Edition. They should also inspect the tables, notes, and appendixes of that edition for information about emendations and textual cruxes. Two corrections in the 1992 Pennsylvania text have been made for this paperback: at 50.3 "Dukedom" has become "Kingdom"; and at 55.3 "Father" now reads "Pastor."

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About the Author

Theodore Dreiser was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, on August 27, 1871. After an impoverished childhood, he became a reporter and feature writer for newspapers in Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Buffalo. He moved to New York in 1897 and made a start there as a successful magazine journalist and editor. In 1900 he published his first novel, Sister Carrie, but the book was considered immoral by its own publisher and was given little promotion or sales support. Dreiser enter a period of depression in 1901, emerging two years later to resume his career as a magazine editor; but he published no new fiction until Jennie Gerhardt in 1911. There followed a decade and a half of major work in several literary forms, capped in 1925 by An American Tragedy, a novel that brought him great critical acclaim and professional reward. Dreiser was preoccupied by philosophical and political issues during the last two decades of his life; he died in Los Angeles on December 28, 1945.

About the Editor

James L. W. West III is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University. He has been awarded fellowships by the Guggeheim Foundation, the National Humanities Center, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and has held Fulbright appointments in England and Belgium. West's American Authors and the Literary Marketplace since 1900, an expansion of his 1983 Rosenbach Lectures at the University of Pennsylvania, was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 1988. His most recent books are William Styron: A Life (1998) and The Perfect Hour: The Romance of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ginevra King (2005).