In Theodore Dreiser's revolutionary first novel, Carrie Meeber, an 18-year-old girl without money or connections, ventures forth from her small town in search of a better life in booming, turn-of-the-century Chicago.
The chronicle of Carrie's rise from obscurity to fame - and the effects of her progress on the men who use her and are used in turn - aroused a storm of controversy and debate upon its debut in 1900. The author's non-judgmental portrait of a heroine who violates the contemporary moral code outraged some critics and elated others; in fact, Dreiser had to fight against censorship in order to even get Sister Carriepublished. And it was not until 1981 that a completely unaltered edition was available.
Sister Carriewas a movement away from the emphasis on morals of the Victorian era and focused more on realism and the base instincts of humans. Digging deeply into the psychological underpinnings of his characters, Dreiser gives us people who are often strangers to themselves, drifting numbly until fate pushes them on a path they can later neither defend nor even remember choosing.
A century later, Dreiser's compelling plot and realistic characters continue to fascinate a whole different generation of readers.