I doubt if any human being, however poetic or however material, ever looked upon the scenes of this world, material or spiritual so-called, with a more covetous eye. My body was blazing with this keen sex desire I have mentioned, as well as a desire for material and social supremacy--to have wealth, to be in society et cetera--and yet I was too cowardly to make my way with women readily. And at the same time I doubt sometimes whether my so-called passion--vigorous as it was--was not much more than a thing of the mind than the body. Love of beauty as such--feminine beauty first and foremost, of course, but in addition to that all natural forms which were somehow included with and supplemented the feminine lure--was the dominating characteristic of all my moods: joy in the arch of an eyebrow, the color of an eye, the flame of a lip or cheek, the romance of a situation; spring trees, flowers, evening walks, the moon; the roundness of an arm or leg, the delicate tracery of an ankle or foot; spring odours, moonlight under trees, a lit lamp over a dark lawn--what tortures have I not endured on account of these! Not even music at its zenith, or color at the end of a master's brush or the poignant phraseology a de Maupassant, a Flaubert or a Daudet (via Sapho) has ever expressed for me the sweet agonies that I myself have endured contemplating the charms--the public, conservative, fashionable charms, if you will--of those enticing flowers, girls, in their delicious setting, the beauty of life itself.
--Theodore Dreiser, Newspaper Days 128-9 (Black Sparrow Press 2000)
[The book has a complicated history but it seems to have been composed mostly in 1920-21.]