“Genius,” The

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Novel by Dreiser, published in 1915.

Handsome Eugene Witla, son of a middleclass family in an Illinois town, cherishes his bent toward drawing and writing, and is looked upon as a dreamer. Then, ambitious and curious about the world, he goes to work in Chicago, spending his spare time in art study. Engaged to Angela Blue, a school-teacher older than himself, he is employed in the art department of a Chicago paper, after which he goes to New York to achieve fame as an illustrator. Sincere but restless, he has affairs with several women, and marries Angela, who is incapable of understanding his tastes or his essential amorality. Eugene's paintings make him famous, but he suffers a nervous collapse, due to overwork and an intemperate sexual life. His savings gone and unable to paint even after a year's rest, he works for some time as a laborer. Then he rapidly climbs the ladder of business success to become managing director of a great publishing firm. Angela, jealous of his philanderings, attempts to win him back by becoming pregnant. He falls in love, however, with a society girl, Suzanne Dale, whose mother ends the affair by causing Eugene to lose his position. Angela dies at the birth of their daughter, and Eugene, belatedly penitent, devotes himself to the care of the child and to his true vocation of realistic painting.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Theodore Dreiser (1871—1945) American novelist

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