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Text 3. Theodore Dreiser. The Titan.
The city of Chicago, with whose development the personality of Frank Algernon Cowperwood was soon to be definitely linked! To whom may the laurels as laureate of this Florence of the West yet fall? This singing flame of a city, this all America, this poet in chaps and buckskin, this rude, raw Titan, this Burns of a city! By its shimmering lake it lay, a king of shreds and patches, a maundering yokel with an epic in its mouth, a tramp, a hobo among cities, with a grip of Caeser in its mind, the dramatic force of Euripides in its soul. A very bard of a city this, singing of high deeds and high hopes, its heavy brogans buried deep in the mire of circumstance. Take Athens, oh, Greece! Italy, do you keep Rome! This was the Babylon, the Troy, the Nineveh of a younger day. Here came the gaping West and the hopeful East to see. Here hungry men, raw from the shops and fields, idyls and romances in their minds, builded them an empire crying glory in the mud.
From New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine had come a strange company, earnest, patient, determined, unschooled in even the primer of refinement, hungry for something the significance of which, when they had it they could not even guess, anxious to be called great, determined so to be without ever knowing how. Here came the dreaming gentleman of the South, robbed of his patrimony, the hopeful student of Yale and Harvard and Princeton; the enfranchised miner of California and the Rockies, his bags of gold and silver in his hands. Here was already the bewildered foreigner, an alien speech confounding him – the Hun, the Pole, the Swede, the German, the Russian – seeking his homely colonies, fearing his neighbor of another race.
Here was the Negro, the prostitute, the blackleg, the gambler, the romantic adventurer par excellence. A city with but a handful of the native-born; a city packed to the doors with all the riffraff of a thousands towns. Flaring were the lights of the bagnio; tinkling the banjos, zithers, mandolines of the so-called gin-mill; all the dreams and the brutality of the day seemed gathered to rejoice (and rejoice they did) in this new-found wonder of a metropolitan life in the West.
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