This is partly because they're not very good: Another reason is that his books are wicked ephebophilic. They all feature a poor but good-hearted teenage boy who betters his lot under Horatio Alger was the inventor, or at least the popularizer, of the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" ethos in America. They all feature a poor but good-hearted teenage boy who betters his lot under the wing of an older man, and it's hard to ignore the homoerotic undertones. Alger himself left a church post over "the abominable and revolting crime of unnatural familiarity with boys" - he was 34 at the time, the boys 13 and 15, which puts him squarely in creep territory.
He never had a public relationship with any adult. There is some controversy over whether he had further relationships with teenaged boys. Ragged Dick, by consensus his best book, is slim, likable, quietly gay, ploddingly written, and basically forgettable. It has some vivid, specific descriptions of New York City in the late 19th century, particularly the Five Points area later immortalized in Gangs of New York. It owes an obvious debt to Charles Dickens. It's not a chore to read, but it's unlikely to leave you advocating for Alger's rescue from the dustbin of literary history.
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I actually read this when I was in elementary school, and I love it even now! It's funny, engaging, and inspiring, as it follows the story of Dick Hunter from his position as a lowly bootblack to an honorable member of society. One of my favorite childhood stories: But those first four stories are quite enjoyable. Then, for the rest of the day, he spends his money bu Horatio Alger, Jr. Then one day, while out attending his customers, he rambles across Mr. Whitney and his grandson Frank. They have a jolly time traipsing through the great squares and avenues together, and at the end of the day, while thanking Dick, Mr.
Whitney advises Dick to become more purposeful in his efforts to better himself. He works hard, saves what he earns, and makes attempts to educate himself. But when his entire savings are stolen, what will Dick do? Can he recover it, or must he start again from the bottom? This was one of them. The two boys drew up their chairs to the rickety table, and spread out the paper before them.
The youth no sooner saw the roll of bills, and comprehended that it was indeed his lost treasure, than from the depths of anguish he was exalted to the most ecstatic joy. Dick walked on with Frank, leaving him in an apparent state of stupefaction, and it is possible that he has not yet settled the affair to his satisfaction. It is very simplistic. Everyone — bootblacks, millionaires, criminals — is portrayed as simply good or simply evil. The good never struggle with the urge to wrong-doing, and the evil feel no compunction or remorse whatsoever. If a boy wants to better himself, why, all he has to do is determine to do so, save a little money, and hey, presto!
The read begins next Sunday - all are welcome. I am leading this read so I am starting a bit early to gather notes and extra information. Project Gutenberg here - http: Aug 18, Karen Chung rated it liked it. I was looking for a bedtime audio book and this one came up on the Librivox site. It's the first in a series, and probably the best, judging from the comments of other readers. It was in later works that the plotlines became repetitive and stale - and Alger was very prolific. Frankly, I enjoyed the book, quite a bit.
The audio files are all around half an hour or less, making them a good choice for bedtime. You'll hear a chapter or two, then the audio device will stop automatically; longer chapters keep you awake too long or disturb your sleep. The plot may be hackneyed and not very plausible, but the story is fun and the writing is in fact very good. I really enjoyed hearing the descriptions of New York City in the s, especially the parts about Central Park, which was in the middle of being constructed at this time.
The language is vivid and lively, and echoed lots of what I've heard in Mark Twain's works, like "Bully! Dick's pluck and chirpiness are a rather admirable role model - he's very articulate for an illiterate boy! A point that stretches the plausibility of the story, but still fun. The book includes lots of details on the finances of the characters, and the importance of dress and personal hygiene in how people form their judgments of others comes up constantly.
One little gem that I gleaned from the book and shared with my phonetician and English-teaching friends: A man came out of a side street, uttering at intervals a monotonous cry which sounded like "glass puddin'. The monotonous cry of these men certainly sounds more like "glass puddin'," than the words they intend to utter. I picked up on the homosexuality overtones in the chapter where Henry comes to stay with Dick and they share a small bed without difficulty.
But we would be depriving ourselves of a lot of creative works if we let personal judgments of their creators guide us. So never mind all that and let the book stand on its own merits. So, actually, if you're in the right mood for it, I recommend this book for an enjoyable, not very taxing leisure read. Sep 29, Kim rated it it was ok Shelves: It was first serialized in "The Student and Schoolmate" in , and released as a full length novel in May It was the first volume in the six volume Ragged Dick Series, and became Alger's all-time bestseller. When I first read this I of course, had to find out what "The Student and Schoolmate" was and here it is: It was the product of a merger between the children's magazines, "The Student and The Schoolmate".
The magazine went through various name changes: He first published some of his boys' books as serials in its pages.
Ragged Dick - Wikipedia
Many of Horatio Alger, Jr. Now on to our author, Horatio Alger, Jr. Alger was a 19th-century American author, best known for his many, many novels about impoverished boys and their rise from humble backgrounds to lives of middle-class security and comfort through hard work, determination, courage, and honesty, and his writings were characterized by the "rags-to-riches" stories. I say many because he wrote over books, and his stories, poems, essays, and songs appeared in many periodicals.
Alger was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and had two brothers and two sisters. His brother's names were Frances and James, which had me wondering how, with brothers with such common names - common to me anyway - he ended up with the name Horatio, a name definitely not common to me, I didn't find out, not yet anyway.
I also found it interesting to know that his father, a Unitarian minister, was pastor of the Second Congregational Society in a small town near Boston with a salary "sufficient to meet his needs. Anyway, Alger's first novel "Marie Bertrand: Loring in Boston the same year. Alger initially wrote for adult magazines, but a friendship with William Taylor Adams, a boys' author, convinced him to write for young people. I found out when I read the introduction, which I did after I finished the book - I always do that, I've never understood why introductions almost always give the entire plot of the book away - so when I read the introduction I found that Alger had attented Harvard Divinity School and had been installed as pastor of the First Unitarian Church and Society of Brewster, Massachusetts in However, early in a church committee of men was formed to investigate sexual misconduct reports about Alger.
Church officials reported to the hierarchy in Boston that Alger had been charged with "the crime of Alger didn't deny it and admitted he had been imprudent, considered his association with the church dissolved, and left town. Alger sent Unitarian officials in Boston a letter of remorse, and his father assured them his son would never seek another post in the church.
Officials were satisfied and decided no further action would be taken. It bothered me that church officials were satisfied with him simply never seeking another church post, on the other hand what they were supposed to do about it is beyond me. Anyway, the whole thing is creepy and I'm moving on to the book.
This has me wondering how far Dick goes in this series. Either each book must cover only a few years of Dick's life or by the end he's going to be an old man, I have no idea which it will be. I can picture Dick ending up by the last book as a United States Senator or some such thing, although if it were me going from "rags to riches" I wouldn't want the riches part to end up anywhere near a politicians life. Our hero Ragged Dick is a homeless fourteen-year-old bootblack, known to be an honest young man. This made me wonder if there are still people in cities who shine shoes for a living or for extra money, or for any other reason a person would shine shoes.
I've never seen a "bootblack" but I've rarely been in a city either. Dick is generous and industrious, but he is a spendthrift, he spends most of his extra money on going to the theater. Early in the book Dick becomes friends with Frank, a young boy from out of town. Frank's uncle is a very busy man and doesn't have time to give Frank a tour of the city, and Dick offers to take the boy around. During the city tour, Frank learns all about Dick's life and sees in Dick great potential and encourages him to remain honest and become respectable.
Being with Frank makes Dick conscious about his own place in life and he resolves "to turn over a new leaf, and try to grow up 'spectable". And that's the plot, or almost all of it anyway. It did occur to me that perhaps by the sixth book Dick, instead of being honest, hardworking, and good to all, may have ended up the total opposite, perhaps he is in prison by the end of the series; that would still be a lesson for young boys of what could happen if you don't try to become honest and respectable, I have a feeling that's not where Dick will end up. For now anyway, there are some obsticles for Dick to overcome, there's a bully - there's always a bully, and at one point he's accused of stealing, and if you want to know any more go and read the book.
You should be able to read it in an afternoon. May 23, David rated it really liked it Shelves: This was not nearly as satisfying a read as four stars suggests. We have our protagonist, Dick Hunter who behaves well and fortune smiles upon him. He doesn't become a savvy businessman, instead people give him opportunities and he betters himself.
I wish it was longer but I understand there is a second novel to follow up on his adventures. I'm too tired to suggest any homoerotic undertones. Perhaps the general lack of women is due to the perspective of masculine society at the time? Be nice to o This was not nearly as satisfying a read as four stars suggests. Be nice to old men who may dress you in fancy clothes. If you have enough money, rent a room and convince a boy to move in with you. You might have to pay his share of the rent but you'll get something out of it.
Also, watch out for shifty bartenders. They might rip you off while you are out at work. This book was adapted for tv as 2 Broke Girls. Sort of hilariously preachy! Listen, kids, if you just work hard and work hard some more, your life will be totally wonderful! Presumably this book is famous more for its rags-to-riches propagandist importance to Being A Good American rather than for its awesome writing.
But I still thought it was a pretty fast and not-annoying read, as long as I was willing to roll my eyes at the more didactic passages. Also, I apparently forgot to take off my slash goggles while reading, because the Force was Sort of hilariously preachy! Apr 06, Nancy rated it liked it Shelves: What I really liked about this book was the description of life in NY city in the late s. The actual story is a bit different from the Horatio Alger mythology of going from rags to riches, it's more like going from crushing poverty to middle class.
While our plucky little protagonist Ragged Dick does have a sense of integrity, is personable, and is quite the hard-worker, but he also relies on good fortune for opportunities that he wouldn't otherwise be offered. It is quite cliched, but it is What I really liked about this book was the description of life in NY city in the late s. It is quite cliched, but it is a classic. Apr 26, Alethea A rated it really liked it. Proto-YA, orphan story, rags to riches, and quite a hoot. I also now really really want some beefsteak and coffee. I had heard of Horatio Alger, of course, but had never read anything written by him until beginning a course in Great American Bestsellers.
Published in , it was the first of nearly books written in his lifetime, selling a million before his death and millions after his death. Each book has pretty much the same theme: Ragged Dick has been taking care of himself on the streets of New York since he was orphaned at age seven.
He is now in his teens and is a successful boot-black. Through a series of fortunate acquaintances who reward him for his moral behavior he will not lie, cheat, or steal , he improves himself by learning to read and write, manages to acquire some savings, and eventually finds a good position and is able to move on from shining shoes. In Alger's opinion, which he gives voice to through Dick, self-worth and self-respect are the greatest rewards of self-improvement.
Although not the greatest literature, this story was entertaining, especially with the meticulous detail given to descriptions of New York City in the era of incredible growth following the Civil War, thanks to Alger's knowledge of the city and its inhabitants. Apr 18, David rated it liked it. The story of a young boy progressing himself both economically and socially in 19th century New York offers an intriguing viewpoint on American capitalism at the time, and how this has progressed to modern day. Alger clearly promotes the idea that hard work and dedication will unwaveringly lead to economic, and subsequently social success, and that this is the major redeeming trait in mankind.
Of course, it isn't to say this is right, but merely an interesting reflection of the time. The text is The story of a young boy progressing himself both economically and socially in 19th century New York offers an intriguing viewpoint on American capitalism at the time, and how this has progressed to modern day. The text is also filled with a certain homoerotic element, likely descending from Alger's own alleged promiscuity with underaged boys, making parts of the text a bit creepy and unsettling.
The novella is certainly a classic and formed a daguerreotype for future literary works aimed at educating youth, but the subtext and lack of realism leads me away from truly enjoying it.
This book was delightful in every way. It is a short, quick read, but I so quickly became attached to Dick and deeply invested in his life. It is such a feel-good, happy story and I loved every second of it. I was assigned it as part of American Literature and this is by far one of the top assigned books I've ever enjoyed. I recommend it to absolutely everyone because it is so lovely and a genuine pick-me-up. Imagine writing a book and naming it Ragged Dick. Jun 13, Maria rated it really liked it. An amazing story about a boy named Ragged Dick, who, through respect and honesty, rises up from the life of a boot-black, to that of an educated man.
Ragged Dick has been described as a "puerile fantasy of the assimilation of the so-called dangerous classes to the bourgeois social order",  but Sacvan Bercovitch believes Alger created "a relatively realistic hero" in Dick—one who smokes, swears, plays pranks, and spends what money he has with abandon, yet one who displays an emotional depth foreign to Alger's subsequent heroes, who increasingly exhibited "the slow accretion of civilized instincts and habits, including proper speech, cleanliness, and courtesy" and who lacked Dick's "sense of humor, sadness, and critical intelligence".
Trachtenberg points out that Alger had tremendous sympathy for boys and discovered a calling for himself in the composition of boys' books: Trachtenberg observes that nothing prurient occurs in Ragged Dick but posits that "the few instances of boys touching each other tenderly or older men laying a light hand on the shoulder of boys, might arouse erotic wishes in readers prepared to entertain such fantasies.
Ragged Dick was first published as a part serial in Student and Schoolmate , beginning with January issue. Alger expanded the tale into a novel, which was published by A. Loring of Boston on May 5, Thousands of copies sold out within weeks, and the novel was republished in August It was the first in a six-volume Ragged Dick series. The book was Alger's best-selling work and remained in print for forty years.
Student and Schoolmate reported in its February issue that the first installment of Ragged Dick "has created no little excitement among our numerous readers, as we supposed it would. According to Scharnhorst, Booth Tarkington acknowledged the book as one of ten that made the "greatest impression on his life", and in "the Grolier Club of New York selected it as one of the hundred most influential American books published before Putnam's Magazine , in its issue of July 7, , wrote that " Ragged Dick is a well-told story of street-life in New York, that will, we should judge, be well received by the boy-readers, for whom it is intended.
The hero is a boot-black, who, by sharpness, industry, and honesty, makes his way in the world, and is, perhaps, somewhat more immaculate in character and manners that could naturally have been expected from his origin and training. We find in this, as in many books for boys, a certain monotony in the inculcation of the principle that honesty is the best policy, a proposition that, as far as mere temporal success is concerned, we believe to be only partially true.
However, the book is very readable, and we should consider it a much more valuable addition to the Sunday-school library than the tales of Inebriates, and treatises on the nature of sin, that so often find place there. Hoyt writes that " Ragged Dick Hoyt points out the Alger refined the many "stylistic tricks" he had been polishing for several years.
The action displayed an authorial confidence, and the language captured the "coarse and ungrammatical" style of the metropolitan street boys. The book was a virtual guide to Manhattan in , and "for that reason if for no other it approached the realm of literature". Hoyt points out that "[T]here had never been such a book Scott Fitzgerald , Nathanael West , John Seelye, Glendon Swarthout , and William Gaddis , but also in the Horatio Alger Awards and in the many young readers who embraced his moral and humanitarian philosophy and were disinclined to embrace robber baron capitalism.
Scharnhorst writes "It would seem that Alger was either over-rated as an economic and political propangandist or — more probably — his books were simply not designed thematically to spread the gospel of orthodox capitalism and convert the readership of The Masses. In the HBO series Boardwalk Empire , the character Nucky Thompson gives the book to his nephew, saying that "he could learn a lot from it". We stuck with Alger's pervasive theme: That in America one could begin with nothing, and with the right attitude, hard work, application and a little bit of luck, dream a dream and chart a course on which to achieve it.
He faces a setback when his wicked stepfather, Luke, arrives on the scene. Dick avoids him and pursues his goals. Suspicion and hatred, none of which Dick deserves, force him out of his job From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Ragged Dick Henry T. Coates and Company edition, Ragged Dick and Struggling Upward.
The Cambridge History of American Literature. The Nether Side of New York. Archived from the original on January 5, Retrieved February 2, Martin, Edward Winslow The Secrets of the Great City. Paul, Eugene October 11, The Horatio Alger Musical". Retrieved January 10, Twayne's United States Authors Series.