Theodore Dreiser was arguably the most important figure in the development of fiction in the twentieth century. And although world-famous for his novels "Sister Carrie" and "Jennie Gerhardt", Theodore Dreiser was also highly accomplished in journalism, autobiography, and travel writing. In 1919, having recently accepted the publishing contract of a new publisher, Dreiser proposed to publish a "book of characters" that would collect twelve biographical sketches of individuals who were major influences on Dreiser, both as a man and as a writer. The resulting narratives combine the best attributes of the character sketch, the autobiography, and the short story into miniature masterpieces of prose.
The men profiled in "Twelve Men" are a diverse and colourful group: from Dreiser's equally famous brother, the song-writer Paul Dreiser's ("My Brother Paul"), to the entirely obscure railroad foreman Michael Burke ("The Mighty Rourke"), on whose work crew Dreiser had laboured in 1903. The twelve narratives are compelling portraits of the men portrayed, but they also reveal many insights into Dreiser's own life and work.
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