"American writing, before and after Dreiser's time, differed almost as much as biology before and after Darwin", said H.L. Mencken. Sister Carrie, Dreiser's great first novel, transformed the conventional "fallen woman" story into a bold and truly innovative piece of fiction when it appeared in 1900. Naive young Caroline Meeber, a small-town girl seduced by the lure of the modern city, becomes the mistress of a traveling salesman and then of a saloon manager, who elopes with her to New York. Both its subject matter and Dreiser's unsparing, nonjudgmental approach made Sister Carrie a controversial book in its time, and the work retains the power to shock readers today. "Sister Carrie came to housebound and airless America like a great free Western wind, and to our stuffy domesticity gave us the first fresh air since Mark Twain and Whitman", noted Sinclair Lewis. "Dreiser enlarged, willy-nilly, by a kind of historical accident if The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torch-bearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices. "From the Hardcover edition.