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The Financier

The Financier by Theodore Dreiser
By: (1871-1945)

In Philadelphia, Frank Cowperwood, whose father is a banker, makes his first money by buying cheap soaps on the market and selling it back with profit to a grocer. Later, he gets a job in Henry Waterman & Company, and leaves it for Tighe & Company. He also marries an affluent widow, in spite of his young age. Over the years, he starts embezzling municipal funds. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire redounds to a stock market crash, prompting him to be bankrupt and exposed. Although he attempts to browbeat his way out of being sentenced to jail by intimidating Mr Stener, politicians from the Republican Party use their influence to use him as a scapegoat for their own corrupt practices. Meanwhile, he has an affair with Aileen Butler, a young girl, subsequent to losing faith in his wife. She vows to wait for him after his jail sentence. Her father, Mr Butler dies; she grows apart from her family. Frank divorces his wife. Sometime after being released, he invests in stocks subsequent to the Panic of 1873, and becomes a millionaire again. He decides to move out of Philadelphia and start a new life in the West. (Introduction by Wikipedia) This is Book 1 of Trilogy of Desire.

First Page:


by Theodore Dreiser

Chapter I

The Philadelphia into which Frank Algernon Cowperwood was born was a city of two hundred and fifty thousand and more. It was set with handsome parks, notable buildings, and crowded with historic memories. Many of the things that we and he knew later were not then in existence the telegraph, telephone, express company, ocean steamer, city delivery of mails. There were no postage stamps or registered letters. The street car had not arrived. In its place were hosts of omnibuses, and for longer travel the slowly developing railroad system still largely connected by canals.

Cowperwood's father was a bank clerk at the time of Frank's birth, but ten years later, when the boy was already beginning to turn a very sensible, vigorous eye on the world, Mr. Henry Worthington Cowperwood, because of the death of the bank's president and the consequent moving ahead of the other officers, fell heir to the place vacated by the promoted teller, at the, to him, munificent salary of thirty five hundred dollars a year. At once he decided, as he told his wife joyously, to remove his family from 21 Buttonwood Street to 124 New Market Street, a much better neighborhood, where there was a nice brick house of three stories in height as opposed to their present two storied domicile... Continue reading book >>

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