The Financier

The Financier


(2 Reviews)
The Financier by Theodore Dreiser







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The Financier


(2 Reviews)
The story concerns the rise of Cowperwood from obscurity to great power in Philadelphia finance, his marriage, his ruin at the hands of the politician who had befriended him and whom he had repaid by debauching his daughter, his term in prison, his financial rehabilitation, and the swift-following descent upon Chicago with his inamorata for future but undivulged activities.

Book Excerpt

aged to force the price of beef up to thirty cents a pound, causing all the retailers and consumers to rebel, and this was what made him so conspicuous. He used to come to the brokerage end of the elder Cowperwood's bank, with as much as one hundred thousand or two hundred thousand dollars, in twelve months-- post-notes of the United States Bank in denominations of one thousand, five thousand, and ten thousand dollars. These he would cash at from ten to twelve per cent. under their face value, having previously given the United States Bank his own note at four months for the entire amount. He would take his pay from the Third National brokerage counter in packages of Virginia, Ohio, and western Pennsylvania bank-notes at par, because he made his disbursements principally in those States. The Third National would in the first place realize a profit of from four to five per cent. on the original transaction; and as it took the Western bank-notes at a discount, it also made a profit on those.

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Being unconventional amidst conventional people still isn't easy, and it was hell in the 19th century. Adding that you're perhaps an autist who has the most fun when juggling with numbers and money, then conflicts are preprogrammed. This is the story of such a person, and it's excellently written. My hope is we'll have the third book of the trilogy on manybooks when I'm finished with the second.
"The Financier" is book 1 of "Trilogy of Desire" - a three-parter based on the remarkable life of the Chicago streetcar tycoon Charles Tyson Yerkes and composed of "The Financier" (1912), "The Titan" (1914), and "The Stoic", which was published posthumously in 1947. The Stoic is still under copyright and not available in the Public Domain.

Dreiser was an American novelist and journalist who pioneered the "naturalist school" and is known for portraying characters whose value lies not in their moral code, but in their persistence against all obstacles.

As in all his novels, Dreiser employs a unique, magnificent, gripping, gritty style of writing in which his characters confront many forces affecting the human condition - particularly intelligence (or the lack of it), drive, power, love, hate, friendship vs. hypocrisy, unrelenting desire to overcome odds at any cost, self-sacrifice, wealth and prestige. Dreiser hides nothing in his description of good, evil, moral immoral, legal, illegal, true love and a loveless marriage.

The main character in "The Financier" is 34 year old Frank Cowperwood, who through dedication, self-confidence and brilliant strategies, quickly establishes himself as a successful Banker/Broker in Philadelphia. In a short time, through his diligence, astuteness and instinct for business, he becomes a millionaire with a coterie of wealthy clients. He marries, has two children, and builds a very costly mansion with all the accoutrements which his position in high society dictates. He even has a young mistress whom he professes to love more than his wife.

Suddenly, misfortune strikes the Stock Exchange and Banks due to a variety of bad economic circumstances in Chicago and Philadelphia. Frank's political and business enemies set him up with false accusations of mis-managing City funds - he loses all his wealth. He goes on trial and is found guilty of embezzlement and larceny. He is sentenced to prison for 51 months. Read the story to see how Frank emerges from this scandal to re-establish his remarkable career in the business world and find happiness in his personal life.

The next book in this series is "The Titan", which follows Frank's career after prison.

So far I have read Dreiser's "Sister Carrie", "An American Tragedy" (under copyright in USA), and "The Financier". For me they are mesmerizing accounts of real people struggling against all odds for happiness and wealth, and succeeding in some cases, failing in others. I recommend Dreiser's novels without reservation.

I would give him 6 stars if this were possible.