Roger W. Smith



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Sister Carrie," Dreiser lends credence to the theory (later disputed by Dreiser scholars) that Sister Carrie was suppressed upon publication and that objections to the book’s content by publisher Frank N. Doubleday's wife were behind this.
19 March 1931 -- Dreiser slaps Sinclair Lewis at the Metropolitan Club in New York in anger over remarks by Lewis's about Dreiser's plagiarism from Lewis's wife, journalist Dorothy Thompson. Dreiser vigorously denied the charge, but is seems that it was well founded.
8 May 1931 -- Dawn, the second volume in what Dreiser conceived of as a four-volume history of his life (never completed), is published by Horace Liveright.
30 May 1931-- Dorothy Parker’s oft-quoted review of Dawn in The New Yorker, “Reading and Writing: Words, Words, Words,” criticizes Dreiser’s “monstrous bad writing,” padding, and his “abominable” style, and notes that he “has no humor.” In doing so, she observes that she admired Sister Carrie, Jennie Gerhardt, and Twelve Men and states that her reservations about Dreiser’s oeuvre began with An American Tragedy. “I realized ... that any reporter writes better and more vividly than the man [Dreiser] who has been proclaimed the great reporter.”
5 June 1931 -- Dreiser makes speech in defense of the nine black youths convicted of rape in Alabama in the Scottsboro Case.
1 July 1931 -- A letter from Dreiser to Sen. George W. Norris is published, enclosing a letter from Dreiser to Paul S. Clapp, managing director of the National Electric Power Association, in which Dreiser insists that there is a “power trust” with an “undue concentration of systems.”
7 July 1931 -- Attorneys representing Dreiser make public a letter to Paramount-Publix Corporation, warning that they will start proceedings to halt release of the film An American Tragedy if it is produced. They charge that the film “is not only not a fair representation but a complete misrepresentation of Dreier’s novel. …The main vice of the picture …. is its utter misrepresentation of Clyde.”
15 July 1931 -- Dreiser commences legal action to prevent the release of the film An American Tragedy by Paramount-Publix Corporation. He charges that the film misrepresents the story he wrote and that it will damage his literary reputation. He also objects to the film’s abridgment of the novel’s content.
22 July 1931 -- Dreiser creates publicity by shouting “That’s a lie!” in court, during his suit to enjoin Paramount-Publix Corporation from showing the film An American Tragedy. Humphrey J. Lynch, counsel for Paramount, used the occasion to refer to Dreiser’s outburst in slapping Sinclair Lewis and suggested that Dreiser had openly boasted of getting front-page publicity from the incident, prompting Dreiser’s outburst. The judge told Dreiser he would have to be quiet or leave the courtroom. Counsel Lynch used the Lewis slapping incident to bring up the subject of plagiarism by Dreiser. He told the court that An American Tragedy was merely a recounting of the Chester Gillette murder case of 1906 and “If there was ever a case of plagiarism this was it.” Lynch added that “if we placed one-tenth of the flirtation scenes from the book into the picture it could not be produced.” He said that Paramount had spent $689,000 to make the film, paying $138,000 of that amount to Dreiser. Dreiser’s attorney responded that Dreiser’s concern was not so much with the monetary aspect but with his wish to produce a great film. He asserted that Dreiser had not been consulted on the scenario and that Dreiser had his own scenario which Paramount was unwilling to use.
26 July 1931 -- Referring to an article in which Dreiser was quoted as assailing the American Federation of Labor and praising the National Miners’ Union, Representative Hamilton Fish Jr. calls Dreiser “a near-Communist, if not an actual believer in Communist principles.”
1 August 1931 -- Dreiser loses suit to block Paramount's film An American Tragedy.
August 1931 -- Film An American Tragedy, directed by Josef von Sternberg, released. Producer: Paramount.
October 1931 -- British censors ban the film An American Tragedy because “its theme is based on murder and sex.”
15 October 1931 -- Stating that “a reign of terror” exists in the Harlan County, Kentucky coal fields, Dreiser begins to organize committee to investigate conditions there. He charges that authorities in Harlan County have joined with employers to deny “all constitutional and civil rights as well as ordinary human rights” to striking miners and their families and describes the community as an “armed camp full of legalized gunman.” Circuit Judge D. C. Jones characterizes Dreiser’s charges as “absolutely a bunch of bunk.”
17 October 1931 -- An article in the Zanesville (OH) Signal notes that Dreiser’s sixtieth birthday has been greeted in Soviet literary circles with eulogies for his growing interest in Communism and support for the working classes. It notes that the International Union of Revolutionary Writers cabled birthday greetings to Dreiser: “We are happy that we can call you comrade.” It also quotes from an article by Serge Dinamov, editor of the Literary Gazette of Moscow, in which Dinamov comments: “A new Dreiser is being born. The American working class and our country have a new frank friend, who hands back to capitalism the fame which it gave him and obtains it anew from the world proletariat. Theodore Dreiser is on the right road. Forward and onward Dreiser!”
November 1931 -- Dreiser travels to Harlan County, Kentucky to investigate conditions of and provide support for striking miners there.
7 November 1931 – Dreiser is questioned aggressively at a hearing into mine workers’ conditions by Herndon J. Evans, editor of the Pineville (KY) Sun about maters such his religion, income, and other personal matters, whereby a turning of the tables is effected, so that Dreiser, who had come to Kentucky as an advocate for the miners, is put on the defensive and transformed from prosecutor into defendant or witness. Dreiser denies under questioning that he is a member of the Communist Party, but states that he is in sympathy with some of its goals.
9 November 1931 -- In a statement released by Bruce Crawford, a member of the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners, Dreiser denies charge that led a Kentucky judge to recommend a grand jury investigation of his activities on behalf of striking miners. He also denies being guilty of misconduct with Marie Pergain (see below, November 10).
10 November 1931 -- Representative Hamilton Fish Jr. again makes statement deploring Dreiser's actions on behalf of miners, calling him an "out and out Communist."
10 November 1931 -- Dreiser and Marie Pergain (the real name of a Dreiser lover, not a pseudonym) are indicted by Kentucky jury on a charge of adultery for spending the night of Friday, November 6 together in a hotel room in Pineville, Kentucky. By this time, it is reported, Dreiser and Marie Pergain have already left Pineville.
10 November 1931 -- The New York office of the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners issues a statement stating that the indictment of Dreiser on charges of adultery is a “frame up” to fight Dreiser’s efforts to “expose the real issues of starvation and terrorism in Harlan and Bell counties.”
11 November 1931 –Dreiser arrives in the afternoon back at his New York City residence, the Hotel Ansonia, accompanied by author John Dos Passos and other members of the Dreiser Committee. He receives reporters and gives a signed statement to the press in which he flatly denies the charge of adultery made against him in Kentucky. He refers to his “inescapable private morality” and offers “reassurance” that he was “incapable” of committing the offense. “… I, at this writing, am completely and finally impotent. The fact that I may be seen … walking, talking, or dining with an attractive girl or woman means nothing more than that a friendly and quite normal conversation is being indulged in.” “There was no misconduct on my part with any young woman there or elsewhere.” Asserting that he has been the victim of frame up, he states that the charges of adultery against him and Marie Pergain were made to deflect attention from the injustices suffered by striking miners. He tells reporters, falsely, that the name of “the young Communist” named with him in the indictment is Marie Bergain, not Pergain. He states that he found the conditions of the striking miners to be pitiful.
16 Nov 1931 -- A Bell County, Kentucky grand jury indicts Dreiser, John Dos Passos, Marie Pergain, and seven other individuals who came to Kentucky to investigate conditions of miners on charges of criminal syndicalism.
18 December 1931 -- The claim of Horace Liveright that he had not forfeited the stock rights to the play “An American Tragedy” (Patrick Kearney’s dramatization of the novel) is upheld by a unanimous decision of a board of arbitrators under the auspices of the American Arbitration Association. Dreiser had contended that Liveright had lost stock rights to the play inasmuch as he had failed to produce the required number of performances called for in an agreement entered into with the Dramatists’ Guild.
30 December 1931 -- Tragic America published by Horace Liveright.
1932 -- Norwegian and Latvian translations of Jennie Gerhardt published. An American Tragedy is published in French, translated by Victor Llona. A Book About Myself is published in a German translation by Ernst Weiss under the title Das Buch über mich Selbst (jahre des kampfes). Dawn is published in a German translation by Marianne Schön under the title Das Buch über mich Selbst (Jugend). German translation of Tragic America by Marianne Schön is published.
1932 -- Sister Carrie is published in the Modern Library series by Random House with Dreiser’s "The Early Adventures of Sister Carrie" article (Colophon, March 1931) included.
1932 -- Forgotten Frontiers: Dreiser and the Land of the Free (reprinted in 1946 as Dreiser and the Land of The Free), by Dorothy Dudley is published by Harrison Smith. Part biography, part memoir, part polemic, part an appréciation, the book draws upon Dudley's knowledge of Dreiser from personal association.\
16 April 1932 -- Erwin Piscator’s dramatization of An American Tragedy is performed at the Volks-Theater in Vienna. The production runs for three weeks.
circa May 1932- Shortly after the nominating convention of the Communist Party USA in Chicago (at which William Z. Foster is nominated for President), Dreiser gives a statement to the press supporting the party, in which he says: “They [the capitalists] are thinking only of protecting their own profits. … Their way out of the crisis is to bring poverty and misery to the workers and farmers the land over. And yet I am asked why I favor the program of the Communist Party and advocate the election of its nominees.”
9 July 1932 --Dreiser narrowly escapes injury in an auto he was driving in Somerville, New Jersey. He said that another auto cut in front of him, causing him to lose control of his vehicle. He says he will pay for the damage resulting from the accident.
19 August 1932 -- In stories full of misinformation deliberately supplied by the participants, The New York Times and The Daily Press (White Plains, NY) report that Miss Helen Richardson Dreiser, the 32-year-old “daughter” of novelist Theodore Dreiser of Mount Kisco, was hurt in an auto accident in Westchester County, New York -- in a car in which she and Dreiser were both passengers, driven by Mrs. Clara L. Clark of Germantown, Pa. (“a friend of his daughter”) -- and that she was visited in the hospital by “her father,” who stayed at her bedside all night. Clara L. Clark (later Jaeger) was one of Dreiser’s secretaries and lovers.
September 1932 -- George Jean Nathan, Ernest Boyd, Dreiser, James Branch Cabell and Eugene O'Neill launch The American Spectator, a literary newspaper (selling at ten cents per copy) with a leftist slant. Dreiser becomes coeditor (lasting until January 1934).
November 1932 -- Having sold film rights to Jennie Gerhardt, Dreiser announces that he plans to become a movie producer himself and to make a film out of an unfinished novel (not named) that he has completed (Chicago Daily Tribune, November 15, 1932).
November 1932 -- Makes address at rally in San Francisco to free labor activist Tom Mooney. Visits Mooney in prison.
1933 -- Dreiser becomes embroiled in public controversy with the author Hutchins Hapgood on the issue of what Hapgood felt were anti-Semitic remarks Dreiser and others made in an "Editorial Conference (with Wine)" article in the May 1933 issue of The American Spectator. Dreiser expressed admiration for Jewish literature and culture the Jews for being a gifted race while speculating on possible solutions to what he termed the “anomalous position” of Jews dispersed across different nations. Among the assertions by Dreiser that were objected to strongly by the Jewish press were his criticism of the Jews for not becoming mechanics, day laborers, or farmers and for preferring to be bankers, merchants, money-lenders, brokers, and middlemen; for being “money-minded, very pagan, very sharp in practice, and usually … they have the single objective of plenty of money”; and for their refusal to become assimilated.
1933 -- Hungarian translation of Sister Carrie by Vajda Miklós and Vajda Gábor published. Portuguese and French translations of Jennie Gerhardt published. Russian translation of An American Tragedy by Z. A. Versilia is published. Polish translation of A Gallery of Women by Z. Popławskiej is published. Russian translation of A Gallery of Women by V. Stanevich and V. Barbashoovaia, with an introduction by S. S. Dinamov, is published. French translation of Tragic America by Paul Nizan is published.

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1933 -- The first known thesis on Dreiser outside the U.S.A.: Jorge Bravo Puga’s "Theodore Dreiser, un escritor norteamericano" [Theodore Dreiser: An American Writer] (Universidad de Chile, 1933).


1 March 1933 -- Indictments against Dreiser and his associates on charges of criminal syndicalism are dismissed in Kentucky.
June 1933 -- Film Jennie Gerhardt released. Producer: Paramount.
7 July 1933 -- “The Dreisers,” an article by Carmel O’Neill Haley, an early acquaintance of the Dreiser family, is published in The Commonweal. It provides valuable reminiscences about Dreiser’s parents, his brother Paul, his sister Mame, and Dreiser himself.’
August 1933 -- Reversing his attitude toward the film An American Tragedy, Dreiser issues a statement praising the film Jennie Gerhardt.
1934 -- Latvian translation of Sister Carrie by A. Mežsēts published. Chinese translation of Free and Other Stories by Xianmin Zhong published (Shanghai).
February 1934 -- Dreiser resigns from editorial board of The American Spectator. “Pressure of other work made his retirement necessary” (The New York Times, February 23).
26 September 1934 -- Dreiser addresses peace rally at the Mecca Temple in New York on the futility of war. The meeting was held as a send-off to delegates of the American League Against War and Fascism who will attend the Second United States Congress Against War and Fascism in Chicago. In his speech, Dreiser points out that wars in ancient as well as modern times had never benefited the masses and that militarism has never bought a higher culture in its wake.
October 1934 -- Dreiser signs contact with Simon & Schuster for the publication of forthcoming works and the plates and rights of his previous works. Dreiser is said in a news item on this development (New York Times) to be working on a new novel, The Stoic.
October 1934 -- Dreiser covers the "American Tragedy" murder trial of Robert Edwards in Wilkes-Barre, PA and writes a series of five articles on the trial for the New York Post (also published in the Philadelphia Record).
1935 – Robert P. Saalbach’s master’s thesis, “The Philosophy of Theodore Dreiser” (the University of Chicago). It includes an interview with Deriser, who was visiting the university to deliver a lecture.
1935 -- Chinese translations of Jennie Gerhardt and of Dreiser’s Free and Other Stories, both by Donghua Fu, published (Shanghai).
January 1935 -- The writer Anaïs Nin dines with Dreiser in his apartment at the Hotel Ansonia.
February 1935-June 1935 -- Dreiser’s articles on the Edwards murder case, previously published in the New York Post, are published in greatly expanded form in Mystery Magazine under the title "I Find the Real American Tragedy."
17 April 1935 -- The Nation contains an exchange of letters between Hutchins Hapgood and Dreiser entitled “Is Dreiser Anti-Semitic?” Hapgood, who was responsible for the exchange appearing in the magazine, explained that the question arose when he read a symposium entitled “Editorial Conference (With Wine)” in the September 1933 issue of the American Spectator. The Jewish Criterion comments: “Theodore Dreiser, who is said to be sympathetic to Communism and who has long been regarded as a liberal, stands convicted by his own words of being anti-Semite.”
20 April 1935 -- U.S. Premier of Case of Clyde Griffiths, play based on An American Tragedy; dramatization by Edwin Piscator and Lina Goldschmidt; translated by Louise Campbell, at the Hedgerow Theatre, Moylan-Rose Valley, PA.
30 April 1935 -- An article, "Dreiser Denies He Is Anti-Semitic," in New Masses contains a statement by Dreiser to that effect dated April 22, 1935.
5 May 1935 -- Rabbi Stephen S. Wise accuses Dreiser of anti-Semitism in an address to his congregation made at Carnegie Hall in New York.
7 May 1935 -- An article by Michael Gold in New Masses, "The Gun Is Loaded, Dreiser," criticizes views expressed by Dreiser in "Dreiser Denies He Is Anti-Semitic" (New Masses, April 30, 1935).
15 May 1935 -- Letters about Dreiser are printed in The Nation which discuss and for the most part condemn his allegedly anti-Semitic views.
10 June 1935 -- Dreiser’s Moods: Philosophic and Emotional (Cadenced and Declaimed) (poetry) is published by Simon and Schuster.
1936 – Emil Greenberg’s “A Case Study in the Technique of Realism: Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy" (master's thesis, New York University). This important thesis has been lost.
1936 -- Swedish translation of The “Genius” published.
March 1936 -- A stage adaptation of An American Tragedy by Erwin Piscator and Lena Goldschmidt is produced by the Group Theater.
29 August 1936 --An interview with Dreiser by Vladimir Pozner, “Le Cinéma Tuera-t-il Le Roman? Visite à Théodore Dreiser, Romancier américain,” is published in Les Nouvelles Littéraires.
3 May 1937 -- Dreiser creates a media storm when he denies in court that he is a “recognized American author,” despite the fact that the Liveright Publishing Company had contracted to pay him $1,250 a month in advance royalties for his uncompleted novel The Stoic. The denial represented an attempt on Dreiser’s part to deflect questions from attorneys for the firm, which was suing him Dreiser $17,000.
29 June 1937 -- Dreiser is ordered by state Supreme Court Justice to pay the Liveright Publishing Corporation, his former publishers, $12,789 on account of breach of contract. A counterclaim by Dreiser against the publishing company for $67,500 is dismissed.
23 December 1937 -- An appeals court upholds verdict for Liveright Publishing Company in suit against Dreiser for advance royalties.
30 December 1937 – The New York Times reports that Dreiser has completed a dramatization of The “Genius” (which appears to have never been produced).
1938 -- Dutch translation of An American Tragedy by J. W. F. Werumeus Buning published. Norwegian translation of An American Tragedy by Nils Lie published.
1938 -- Robert H. Elias publishes master’s thesis, “The Romantic Stoicism of Theodore Dreiser: A Study of His Attitude Toward Industrialism and Social Reform" (Columbia University, 1938). As a graduate student, Elias had befriended Dreiser and done some of the first systematic research into Dreiserana, consulting materials that would later become part of the University of Pennsylvania’s Dreiser Collection.
1938 -- Charles Child Walcutt’s "Naturalism in the American Novel" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan) is the first dissertation on Dreiser to be published and a seminal work that will later appear in published form.
1938 -- After a series of lawsuits, Dreiser obtains the rights to and plates of works of his that were published by Liveright Publishing Company, which had gone bankrupt in 1933. He is required to first repay $16,383 representing unearned advances.
May 1938 -- Production of The Hand of the Potter by Portfolio Players in London.
23 July 1938 -- The World Conference for Action on the Bombardment of Open Towns and the Restoration of Peace is held in Paris, with Dreiser one of the speakers at the opening session. From there, he travels to war torn Spain.
21 August 1938 -- Dreiser creates controversy with remarks, widely reported in the press -- made in an interview upon the liner Laconia during his return from Europe -- in which he classifies President Franklin D. Roosevelt with Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin.
September 1938 -- Returns from Spain. Gives interviews. Attends reception dinner for Dreiser organized by League of American Writers to benefit American Relief Ship for Spain.
1939 -- Finnish translation of Jennie Gerhardt by Helvi Vasara published.
21 November 1939 -- Dreiser addresses First Junior League Salon in Los Angeles and creates controversy by stating “Women’s clubs are a lot of baloney," and with other remarks (such as saying colleges might as well be shut down).
1940 -- A second dissertation is published on Dreiser: Marie Hadley Bower’s "Theodore Dreiser: The Man and His Times; His Work and Its Reception" (Ohio State University, 1940).
1940 -- Lithuanian translation of Sister Carrie published. Norwegian translation of The Titan.
February 1940 -- ROKU buys screen rights to Sister Carrie.
21 March 1940 - Dreiser’s brother Markus Romanus Dreiser (Rome), former occupation railroad engineer,” age 80, dies in Metropolitan Hospital, Welfare Island, New York, NY. His usual place of residence at the time was his sister Mame’s home in Astoria, Queens, NYC.
9 April 1940 -- In her syndicated column, Edda Hopper states that Dreiser's personal choice for the role of Carrie in a film version of the novel is Ginger Rogers.
9 November 1940 -- An address by Dreiser, "U.S. must not be bled for imperial Britain," is delivered over Columbia Broadcasting System and is subsequently published as a leaflet.
10 November 1940 -- Dreiser's strident anti-British views are evidenced in "Dreiser Views Aid to Britain As Another American Tragedy: Novelist Believes That 'Americans Are Suckers'" (Washington Post) and "Dreiser Says England Seeks to Drag U.S. in European War" (Washington Evening Star).
1941 -- Spanish translation of Sister Carrie by Hector F. Miri published in Argentina. Spanish translation of Jennie Gerhardt by Hector Pedro Blomberg published in Argentina. Spanish translation of America Is Worth Saving published in Argentina under the title América Debe Ser Salvada.
9 January 1941 -- Dreiser cables British People’s Convention in London to express his encouragement and sympathy and states that they should replace the “imperialist group” now in power with a “people’s government” in sympathy with the movement.
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