Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Ragged Dick


Ragged Dick Audio at Librivox
Full Online Text of Ragged Dick
Ragged Dick at Amazon.com

I've just finished listening to Ragged Dick by Horatio Alger Jr. The book was written in the 19th century. It is about a young boy named Dick Hunter who shines people's shoes for a living. Through hard work, thrift, honesty, charity, and some luck, he grows up to become a respectable person. This story is the first and most popular of Alger's many rags-to-riches books. Many believe Horatio Alger's books had a profound impact on the creation of the so-called American Dream.

The story is very enjoyable to read. The characters are very lovable. The plot surprisingly contains themes that I could certainly relate to and I'm sure many people will see in certain fictitious characters some of the behaviors of their friends in the real world. So ubiquitous is the American Dream in our lives today that we can recognize its symptoms so easily in Ragged Dick.

On the downside, the ending of this story is just laughable. I won't give anything away but let's just say there is some deus ex machina.

There have also been recent (2006) revelations that Horatio Alger Jr was a homosexual pedophile (or pederast). This doesn't surprise me because some of Ragged Dick contained what I perceived as homoerotic parts. For example, once Dick Hunter shared a bed with a younger boy. Even the title "Ragged Dick" has homosexual connotations. Horatio Alger Jr was inspired to write Ragged Dick after living in New York and living with and observing young boys who worked in the streets. There is speculation that he had sex with these boys, but that has not been confirmed.

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