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Mr. Achilles

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Wikipedia article

'Mr. Achilles' is a novel by Jennette Lee. It was first published in 1912 by Dodd, Mead & Co. In 'Mr. Achilles', the eponymous Achilles Alexandrakis, a fruitseller, befriends Betty Harris, the daughter of a meatpacking magnate, and rescues her when she is kidnapped.

Composition and publication

'Mr. Achilles' is set in Chicago, where Lee lived for three years. Lee got the idea for the novel's protagonist from a story she heard Jane Addams tell of a Greek person who came to Chicago, looking forward to telling Americans about Greek mythology and ruins. She did not start writing the novel until a year or two later. Its first part was published in 'Harper's Magazine'; later chapters were serialized in 'The Outlook' in 1911. The complete novel was published by Dodd, Mead & Co. in 1912.


', 1907, by Lucius Wolcott Hitchcock

'Mr. Achilles' is the first American novel in which a Greek immigrant, fruit stand owner Achilles Alexandrakis, appears as a protagonist. Achilles, who is from Athens, meets Betty Harris, the 12-year-old daughter of a millionaire meat magnate, when she is trying to find her way home after a music lesson. She asks him about Greek culture and listens attentively to his stories. Achilles befriends and subsequently rescues Betty when she is kidnapped.


A review in 'The Continent', a journal affiliated with the Presbyterian church, described 'Mr. Achilles' as "a trifle overidealistic" but nonetheless "uncommonly pretty". The 'Pittsburgh Daily Post', although it noted that the plot was not "plausible", said that the novel should be "praised" because it was "prettily told, even at times with much art". The 'Brooklyn Eagle' suggested that, in writing 'Mr. Achilles', Lee intended to "teach us that we are trampling pearls under our feet in our neglect of our Greek immigrants".

Critic James A. Kaser describes 'Mr. Achilles' as "melodramatic". He argues that the novel attempted to tackle prejudice against immigrants and nouveaux riches, and also addressed the "epidemic of kidnappings" targeting the wealthy in the United States around the turn of the century.


Category:1912 novels

Category:Books about Chicago

Category:Dodd, Mead & Co. books

Category:Greek-American culture

Category:Kidnapping in fiction

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