Theodore Dreiser, Anna Tatum, and The Bulwark: The Making of a Masterpiece

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by Michael Lydon

Theodore Dreiser, Anna Tatum, and The Bulwark: The Making of a Masterpiece

Theodore Dreiser began his masterpiece, The Bulwark, in 1912 when he was forty-one, and he finished it in 1945, a few months before his death. Through those thirty-plus years in which he wrote his best known novel, An American Tragedy, and many other novels, plays, books of poetry and philosophy, Dreiser kept coming back to The Bulwark, always inspired by Anna Tatum, one of his many mistresses, whose stories of growing up in a strict Quaker household gave him much of the novel’s raw material. Yet he came away from each attempt discouraged by his failure to bring Solon Barnes, his devout Quaker hero, to life on the page. Finally, only his own impending death gave him the sympathetic insight to finish. Unfortunately, the quiet simplicity of The Bulwark’s prose turned off readers who admired Dreiser’s rough-and-ready realism, and The Bulwark has still not found the audience it deserves.

“Theodore Dreiser, Anna Tatum & The Bulwark,” based on Michael Lydon’s extensive original research tells the long history of The Bulwark’s gestation and birth that mirrors Dreiser’s and Anna’s long, tangled, and ultimately unhappy affair.

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$10.00 70 pages





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