He attended the University of California in —94 and then spent another year at Harvard…. Novel, an invented prose narrative of considerable length and a certain complexity that deals imaginatively with human experience, usually through a connected sequence of events involving a group of persons in a specific setting.
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Thank You for Your Contribution! There was a problem with your submission. Please try again later. Keep Exploring Britannica William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare, English poet, dramatist, and actor, often called the English national poet and considered…. Bob Dylan, American folksinger who moved from folk to rock music in the s, infusing the lyrics of…. Voltaire, one of the greatest of all French writers. Jan 07, sdw rated it really liked it Shelves: How long must we suffer? Where is the end: How long must the ironhearted monster feed on our life's blood?
How long must this terror of steam and steel ride upon our necks? Will you never be satisfied, will you never relent, you, our masters, you, our kings, you, our taskmasters, you, our Pharaohs? Will you never listen to that commandment Let my people go? I enjoyed it more "How long must it go on? I enjoyed it more than The Grapes of Wrath. I read in the afterward that Norris toned down his critiques and complicated the innocence of the farmers to appease the right-ward turn of his press.
Yet, I found the book more convincing and engaging because of the moral fall the fall from innocence that the railroads' dealings forced upon the farmers. This book reinforced most of my pre-existing beliefs about depictions of race, gender, and land ownership in California farm narratives. Its a great novel to use to talk about land grants and the railroads in the west. Jun 19, Kelly rated it it was ok Shelves: The railroad is bad. Especially in the s. It is the destroyer of souls, the devil's most exquisite instrument of torture.
That's about all I got for getting through this slog. But that's about the best compliment I can give it. Apr 29, King Wenclas rated it it was amazing. Not just a great American novel-- this book is THE great American novel, in its scope, its understanding of the American character and of the forces which have shaped the American civilization. The leading figures of the narrative, on both sides of the dispute, are risk-takers. Most of them are quite ruthless-- Presley the poet and Vanamee the mystic the chief exceptions.
It's Frank Norris's genius that he makes us care about a man like Annixter despite his hardness and ruthlessness. Annixter an Not just a great American novel-- this book is THE great American novel, in its scope, its understanding of the American character and of the forces which have shaped the American civilization. Annixter and the other members of the League become heroic because they stand up for their work, their land and their principles, against what turn out to be irresistible forces. I see that some reviewers have a problem getting past Norris's style of writing.
It means that the author makes his points again and again-- he hammers them into you-- which is admittedly a different style from what most readers today are used to, but it also gives the book its unusual power. When conflict comes, it has reverberations beyond the incidents themselves, because Norris makes the conflicts part of his larger themes. Norris overstates his descriptions because he wants the reader to SEE the setting and the characters; really see them. Few novels are so closely tied to the land and nature. Tolstoy's Anna Karenina comes to mind.
No novel I've read has so well conveyed the special qualities of California; its landscape and sunlit beauty. Norris emphasizes the wheat as a force of nature because he wants us to see the railroad, and the people of the novel, as natural forces as well. For all the care Norris put into the novel's construction, few novels carry as much excitement. The shooting at the barn dance; the chase of Dyke; and finally, the sudden showdown between ranchers and railroad men are as tense and exciting-- and ultimately as tragic-- as any scenes ever written. Scope, power, love, tragedy, compassion, meaning-- no American novel puts every aspect of a great novel together as well as this one.
Indeed, it remains topical, in that monopolies, corruption, and cronyism are with us today-- and there remain people who fight against these forces, whether their vehicle to do so be the Tea Party or Occupy. Since , when The Octopus was first published, has all that much really changed? Sep 11, Jaycee Bond added it Shelves: Again, read only a bit for school. No rating or review. In the late 's, the state of California awarded a monopoly to the Railroad to build a rail line down the length of the Central California Valley.
As an incentive, the Railroad was awarded large tracks of land along side the new rail line. The Railroad invited farmers to settle on the Railroad land, promising that they would be sold the land at some future time. This story concerns the plight of these farmers as they farm the rich farmland, but find themselves at the mercy of the powerful Ra In the late 's, the state of California awarded a monopoly to the Railroad to build a rail line down the length of the Central California Valley.
This story concerns the plight of these farmers as they farm the rich farmland, but find themselves at the mercy of the powerful Railroad. All the organized moves of the Central Valley farms to shake the Railroad yoke off are anticipated and checked by the powerful Railroad. Our point of view and sympathy are with the farmers, and we see the Railroad as a soul-less evil. Finally, at the end of the story, after all the lives are ruined or broke, the protagonist travels to San Francisco to confront the heartless monster who has ruined all the good farmers.
We are shocked to learn the head of the Railroad is himself a prisoner of the economic forces that rule the world. It is 'the wheat' and the people who consume the wheat that control the process. The wheat must move to the hungry people of the world, and anyone who is hurt in the process is just a trivial footnote to a force of nature. Apr 26, pearl rated it really liked it Shelves: I read this for my 8th grade US History class. And let me tell you, it is fucking Epic with a capital E. But I can't tell you how absolutely monstrous this thing is.
It comes full circle at the end, in a case of crazy-perfect justice. The Wheat of course, Wins. Oct 04, Megan rated it it was ok Shelves: I feel like I've been reading this for years. It's like Frank Norris decided one day he was going to write an epic and didn't particularly care what it was about much like the character Presley and his 'Song of the West'.
Overall I found this similar in story and tone to The Grapes of Wrath, only it's the Railroad the titular Octopus squeezing out mid-sized farms rather than the Bank and Big Farm squeezing out the poor farmer.
The Octopus | novel by Norris | ogozoqosolym.tk
It's obvious who you are supposed to side with, and yet Norris dep I feel like I've been reading this for years. It's obvious who you are supposed to side with, and yet Norris depicts the ranchers and farmers in such a way as to make me dislike pretty much all of them. If you manage to get passed the prideful boasting and willful ignorance of the cowardly ranchers, and don't object to the frankly ridiculous caricature of a villain S. Behrman , then their complete disregard to their own tenants and the prosperity of anyone except themselves ought to still put you off.
Several farmers are actively ruining their own land in plans to make fortunes quickly and then leave. How do you root for that? Now, if the above makes this sound like a nuanced, layered take on what could be a black and white conflict, don't get too excited. Norris employs a lot of structural tactics to convey his message essentially how helpless the individual is against forces like trusts and monopolies, pretty much summed up towards the end of the novel by the rich railroad magnate Presley visits , and they are employed haphazardly.
One particularly heinous use was the death by starvation of one character while another group literally feasts. The juxtaposition is a good idea, but the scene switches back and forth something like 20 times. It's excessive and unnecessary, and ruins the intended effect. A lot of the novel is like that. I gave 2 stars because the writing itself isn't bad, just poorly structured, and there is a wealth of information here for someone interested in either this time period or even potentially business tactics.
The international shipping of the wheat to India ostensibly in the name of aid is something that goes on to this day for profit I believe famine areas in Africa had a lot of this type of 'aid' more recently, much to the benefit of American farm interests. Mar 31, Kim rated it really liked it Shelves: A Story of California is a novel by Frank Norris. I loved this book, it was awesome I say that alot though. It was the first part of an uncompleted trilogy, The Epic of the Wheat. The Epic of the Wheat sounds so boring but I didn't find it boring at all.
Frank Norris was an American author born in Chicago. It doesn't seem like he stayed there long though. He also lived in California, London, New York and Paris, he worked as a news correspondent in South Africa and as a war correspondent in Cuba during the Spanish-American war; he seemed like a very busy person. Whenever I read anything about Frank Norris it says he was a "naturalist" writer, so I finally looked up the word.
These are two of the definitions I found: A poor immigrant could not escape their life of poverty because their preconditions were the only formative aspects in his or her existence that mattered. So this is what I've learned; without giving a thought to whether I agree with naturalism, I certainly enjoy that style of writing because I love all those authors.
The Octopus is the story of the conflict between wheat farmers in the San Joaquin Valley and the Pacific and Southwestern railroad. The "octopus" is the railroad, its tentacles spread out into every aspect of man's life, making itself even more powerful and of course always richer. The focus in the novel seem to be the power the railroad company has over the farmers and how the farmers are almost helpless to this "entity. Along the lines of the Pacific and South West Railroad, alternate sections of land had been granted to the Railroad Trust by the government. The railroad invited the farmers to settle the land and cultivate wheat, then offers the land for sale, at first to the first occupants.
Improvements to the land would not affect the price, therefore, the land would prove to be very valuable to those first farmers. As the novel goes on the farmers greatly improve the land through things like irrigation, however the railroad has no intention of selling to the farmers at the original price. When told that the farmers have improved the land they are told the presence of the railroad also increases the value of the ranches.
Thus begins the war between the farmers and railroad trust. When the ranchers resolve to defend their homes and livelihood, there are tragic consequences. I loved the book, a lot of people wouldn't. There is a lot of talk about wheat, a lot of talk about wheat prices, oh and a lot of talk about railroads.
The railroad seems like its the main character, and it is a long book. I've often heard it said that if you're from California you would love the book. Well I'm not from California, have never been there doubt I'll ever get there but I still thought it was a great read. View all 3 comments. Jun 17, Jim Leckband rated it it was amazing. Has anyone identified a genre of fiction called "California Disillusionment"? In other words, where California Dreaming becomes California Screaming?
And of course there are all those Hollywood novels, such as The Day of the Locust. The sense of place and the Has anyone identified a genre of fiction called "California Disillusionment"? The sense of place and the allegory Eden mostly, with some biblical themes made it seem that Steinbeck was more than a little familiar with "The Octopus".
The OverSoul in "Grapes" is replaced by "Wheat" here - but it is essentially the same thing, the drive of nature to connect and reproduce. The plot is a teeny bit overdetermined, as it can be with Naturalist writers. The drum beat of "Bad Things" is thrumming throughout the book. But, that was Norris's point, "Bad Things" are thrumming throughout everything at some level.
It seemed to me that "trust" was the keyword to unlock this novel. Trust in the verbal sense in that the people who trusted laws, agreements and even their kin where destroyed. And "Trust" in the monopoly sense - the Railroad Trust of California was the Octopus who ultimately destroyed the wheat farmers of the San Joaquin valley. It was interesting to read this novel when yet another Octopus Amazon was in the news for doing the same thing to publishers and authors as they "negotiated" with Hachette by withholding their products from the market that they dominate.
And yet I'm writing this on an Amazon owned website. But that is Norris's ultimate point, which he gets to in the last chapter: One hopes, one does - that is if that one is lucky enough to be Presley the Norris stand-in in the novel and not any of the other poor souls engulfed by the Octopus. Apr 03, Illiterate rated it liked it. Ranches v railroad, republican values v monopoly capitalism, romance v realism.
A great American epic, written by a twentysomething; my word, I thought I was too old to just find a book by chance from a second hand stall, one I had never heard of and having my mind BLOWN. My great hero John Steinbeck will read like Mills and Boon to me now, this is the top shelf stuff. Maybe it needs time to give my real judgement but at the moment this does not feel a great American novel, but THE great one. An ex journalist attempting to write the great ambitious novel of its time, part of A great American epic, written by a twentysomething; my word, I thought I was too old to just find a book by chance from a second hand stall, one I had never heard of and having my mind BLOWN.
An ex journalist attempting to write the great ambitious novel of its time, part of a trilogy all mapped out before his sad death. I had always somehow wished my great literary heroes, Zola, Dickens, Wolfe had been around in the great American west to tell us the real truth and here he was, all along. To be battered over the head by such themes, scope and character and then be confronted by such wondrous lines as "Always blame conditions, not men," it oxygenised my soul.
Surely we read fiction to enter the lives of others, another world. It is why you never meet a narcissist or bad person that reads fiction, it is enforced empathy. I have no idea why this novel is not eulogised more. I know the naturalist school is always slightly held with disdain. And I see the reviews on here professing outrage relating to a single line that suggests characters from a latin background might take enjoyment in clubbing rabbits. I guess that is enough to take it off modern tertiary education programmes. Mar 28, Mark McKenna rated it liked it.
I marked "The Octopus" as 'finished' but I quit at page I knew this to be a famous work that was a factor in inspiring lawmakers to break the monopoly of the railroad, the octopus in the title. But I found the book to be a maudlin exercise in purple prose that had more historic than literary interest for me. There was an interesting sub-plot surrounding 'Vanamee' a wandering prophet-like character who is mourning the mysterious death of his young lover, Angele Varian, a tragedy that happened I marked "The Octopus" as 'finished' but I quit at page There was an interesting sub-plot surrounding 'Vanamee' a wandering prophet-like character who is mourning the mysterious death of his young lover, Angele Varian, a tragedy that happened many years earlier.
He seems to be calling her back in some mystical way. Frank Norris spends some time developing this "ghost story" along with his political one. The book is also interesting in its Western depictions: But all this was not enough. I didn't care enough about these characters to wade through all the verbiage.
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Ultimately, "The Octopus" is a polemic work. The characters were created to expose the political shenanigans of the railroad. Good news for the ranchers growing wheat in California's Joaquin Valley. Bad news for readers of fiction. Aug 31, Christine rated it it was ok Shelves: For quite some time i was going to give this 3 stars due to historical importance, but, my god, the Truth is this is an awesomely unpleasant reading experience. Seemingly endless pages of purple prose. There are bits and pieces of not quite greatness, but at least potential.
The end of the first chapter, for example, was jaw droppingly good. I forgave quite a lot after that scene got it's hooks into me. So, For quite some time i was going to give this 3 stars due to historical importance, but, my god, the Truth is this is an awesomely unpleasant reading experience. So, why'd I even finish it?
And, why might you wish to read it anyway?
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This book is, indeed, historically fascinating. Inspired by true events, it's a monstrous piece of muckraking fiction that could be quite powerful if only it wasn't so appallingly bad. If you just read for fun or pleasure, you do not want to pick up this behemoth. But, if you are sometimes willing to suffer for the idea of having read something, this is a work of fiction that has it's place.
It was well-received at the time, largely because it played upon the general sympathies of the time. So, there you've been warned. This was an interesting novel - and I was able to research it somewhat in that it was based upon a real incident in - Mussel Slough Tragedy - and the book was written in Norris, who was young and died soon afterward had been a journalist and I think that very possibly the news stories from only 20 years before he published the book were likely very helpful He develops a variety of characters with an interesting variety of roles and histories and problems and fates.
This is a book very m This was an interesting novel - and I was able to research it somewhat in that it was based upon a real incident in - Mussel Slough Tragedy - and the book was written in This is a book very much worth reading It is one that, partly due to the age of the book, lends itself well to the Kindle with an automatic dictionary function but even so some of the words were not recognized by the reader's dictionary.
The often use of mythical and legendary entities makes one aware of differing reference points during the period makes the book more interesting and takes one back a bit and again makes the electronic reader features more useful Mar 15, Murray rated it it was amazing. Although the book is painfully slow in the beginning, it is well worth completing. Norris must have been inspired by Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables", as "The Octopus" delves into the lives of the Northern California farmers whose lives are held in the balance by the greedy railroad tycoons.
The characters are extreme "The Octopus" is mentioned several times in the last book I read, "The Inventor and the Tycoon". The characters are extremely well-defined and sympathetic as they attempt to band together and rid themselves of the evil-doers trying to take their land and wrench every penny they can out of their business transactions. Driven to desperation against evil, the farmers find that they must meet the evil halfway and, perhaps, perform tasks they never imagined doing.
The Octopus Summary
Jul 26, Mark rated it it was amazing Shelves: I don't know why people called this book "flawed" back in the twentieth century. Perhaps because it has a somewhat sympathetically Marxist tone. It's a bit Dickensian and also prefigures Jack London, who must have loved I don't know why people called this book "flawed" back in the twentieth century.
It's a bit Dickensian and also prefigures Jack London, who must have loved it. But it's a good read. The drama never really stops, sweeps you in, and keeps you with it. The characters are quite believable, if a little ragged and sometimes "stereotypical". I avoided this one way too long. Jun 26, Riley rated it liked it.
Frank Norris is one of those once-renowned, and now largely forgotten, authors. This book is alright. Some of the scenes are really well done -- most notably Norris' description of night of the barn dance. But I found Vanamee's character and mystical musings a bunch of annoying gobbledygook that really weakened the story overall for me.