Having married his former mistress, Aileen Butler, and moved to Chicago, Cowperwood almost succeeds in his dream of establishing a monopoly of all public utilities. Dissatisfaction with Aileen leads him, however, to a series of affairs with other women. When the Chicago citizenry frustrates his financial schemes, he departs for Europe with Berenice Fleming, the lovely daughter of the madam of a Louisville brothel.
At last, Cowperwood experiences "the pathos of the discovery that even giants are but pygmies, and that an ultimate balance must be struck".
This second novel in Dreiser's series again gives us a panoramic view of the most cold-eyed, ruthless, Machiavellian American business character one could ever meet. At one point I was listening to an extended passage about Cowperwood's devious love life (as much a love life as a pure, inspired sociopath can have) and rolling my eyes, thinking, is this a novel that does not seem to know what it is really about? Has this book lost its way and mistaken itself for a romantic melodrama? But then, Cowperwood in a seemingly impossible situation for his life and reputation, having deeply betrayed every trusting person in sight to the point they are literally coming to blows at each other in fits of mad emotion, and all making ready for hospital clinics or insane asylums, and without a hair on his head disarranged, turns to his principal accuser and makes such a cool, crystalline, inspired combined cash settlement offer-threat, he quells the whole problem (as far as he cares) in a couple minutes. A man moments before mortally threatening him, and ready set upon him like a wild animal, if not bring squads of lawyers and reporters to destroy Cowperwood, slinks away with his tail between his legs. Theodore Dreiser, you devil! I haven't yet read the bio of C.T. Yerkes (this book is said to be based on), but if that was Yerkes, what a striking American character this was (from a safe distance). This is a character distilling everything, no exceptions, to the most beguiling and ruthless business chess. Maybe I like it because my friends sometimes say this of me (before I dismiss them, crisply and serially).
Oh, and the business dealings are described as crystalline and clearly as one could wish for.
What disappointed you about The Titan?
TOO MUCH TIME SPENT ON TALKING ABOUT BUSINESS DEALS.
What could Theodore Dreiser have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
SPENT MOST OF THE BOOK TALKING ABOUT HIS PERSONAL LIFE.
What do you think the narrator could have done better?
THE NARATOR WAS NOT BAD. BUT HE WAS NOT GOOD EITHER. HE ADDED NO EMOTION TO THE STORY.
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Titan?
MOST OF THE BUSINESS DEAL SCENES. THEY BORED ME.
Any additional comments?
I HAVE READ TWO OTHER BOOKS BY DREISER. THEY WERE VERY GOOD. THIS ONE WAS A DISAPPOINTMENT. I WON'T WASTE MONEY ON THE FINANCIER AS I BET IT WILL BE SIMILAR TO TITAN IN DISCUSSING BUSINESS DEALS.
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