Dreiser's careful preservation of his papers bears new fruit with the publication of his personal diaries for the years 1902-26. This volume presents all seven of Dreiser's hitherto unpublished American diaries, the intermittent journals he kept during the most productive years of his literary career. Together they constitute a revealing self-portrait as well as a valuable commentary on the American scene during the first quarter of the twentieth century. They offer reflections on turn-of-the-century Philadelphia, the American South and Mid-West, Greenwich Village of the nineteen-teens, and Hollywood of the twenties. The diaries begin in 1902, when Dreiser was at a low point after the "suppression" of Sister Carrie, and continue until 1926, when he was enjoying the greatest success of his career with An American Tragedy.
This publication constitutes in its entirety a new source for biographical and critical study. This is particularly true of the diaries covering Dreiser's experience in Philadelphia, Greenwich Village, and with Helen Richardson—all of which were not available to previous biographers. The present Introduction by Professor Riggio is the first biographical narrative to make use of these materials. Future biographers will now be able to speak with more assurance of Dreiser's whereabouts, the people he knew, what he was reading, which writings were in progress, and of his fascinating private affairs in general. In addition, these diaries will be of interest to students of Dreiser's literary art, as they reveal subtle aspects of how Dreiser viewed the external world and transmuted it in his daily creative efforts.
"It's the man, not the artist, who emerges here."—The New Yorker
"The most intimate autobiographical account we have of certain periods of Dreiser's life. . . . The portrait of Dreiser that emerges in these pages is not a radically new one, but not it has acquired the cumulative power of fact that a Dreiser novel has."—The Nation