The Octopus

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Plain Label Books, May 30, 2008 - Fiction - 488 pages
61 Reviews
The Octopus: A Story of California is a novel written by author Frank Norris. The Octopus is about wheat growers who are in conflict with a railroad company during late 19th century California. The railroad company, controlling the local newspaper, state legislature and the land prove to be a tough force for the local wheat growers to fight against. The Octopus is highly recommended for those who are interested in novels taking place in early California and also those who enjoy the writings of author Frank Norris.
  

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The plot is forceful and compelling. - Goodreads
There is no happy ending. - Goodreads
... the prose is dated. - Goodreads
Frank Norris is not a spare writer. - Goodreads

Review: The Octopus: A Story of California (The Epic of the Wheat #1)

User Review  - Julianne - Goodreads

This book started off fairly slow to me, as I am not normally one to take interest in books with such a historical perspective. However, as the plot moved along I got really into the story. I ... Read full review

Review: The Octopus: A Story of California (The Epic of the Wheat #1)

User Review  - Garrett Roads - Goodreads

This may be my favorite book. Anybody want to talk about it? Read full review

Contents

I
2
II
63
III
119
IV
157
V
200
VI
268
VII
363
VIII
474
IX
505
X
580
XI
632
XII
682
XIII
734
XIV
806

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Page 504 - Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
Page 754 - Believe this, young man," exclaimed Shelgrim, laying a thick, powerful forefinger on the table to emphasize his words, "try to believe this — to begin with — that railroads build themselves. Where there is a demand sooner or later there will be a supply. Mr. Derrick, does he grow his wheat? The wheat grows itself. What does he count for? Does he supply the force? What do I count for? Do I build the railroad? You are dealing with forces, young man, when you speak of the wheat and the railroads,...
Page 857 - But the WHEAT remained. Untouched, unassailable, undefiled, that mighty world-force, that nourisher of nations, wrapped in Nirvanic calm, indifferent to the human swarm, gigantic, resistless, moved onward in its appointed grooves.
Page 504 - Oh Death ! where is thy sting ? Oh Grave ! where is thy victory ? The sting of Death is sin, and the strength of sin is the Law.
Page 388 - it would be the indifference of the better people to public affairs. It is so in all our great centres. There are other great trusts, God knows, in the United States besides our own dear P. and SW Railroad. Every State has its own grievance. If it is not a railroad trust, it is a sugar trust, or an oil trust, or an industrial trust, that exploits the People, because the People allow it. The indifference of the People is the opportunity of the despot.
Page 381 - It was in this frame of mind that Magnus and the multitude of other ranchers of whom he was a type, farmed their ranches. They had no love for their land. They were not attached to the soil. They worked their ranches as a quarter of a century before they had worked their mines. To husband the resources of their marvellous San Joaquin, they considered niggardly, petty, Hebraic. To get all there was out of the land, to squeeze it dry, to exhaust it, seemed their policy. When, at last, the land worn...
Page 57 - The whole gigantic sweep of the San Joaquin expanded, Titanic, before the eye of the mind, flagellated with heat, quivering and shimmering under the sun's red eye. At long intervals, a faint breath of wind out of the south passed slowly over the levels of the baked and empty earth, accentuating the silence, marking off the stillness. It seemed to exhale from the land itself, a prolonged sigh as of deep fatigue. It was the season after the harvest, and the great earth, the mother...
Page 61 - In some way, the herd of sheep—Vanamee's herd—had found a breach in the wire fence by the right of way and had wandered out upon the tracks. A band had been crossing just at the moment of the engine's passage. The pathos of it was beyond expression. It was a slaughter, a massacre of innocents. The iron monster had charged full into the midst, merciless, inexorable.
Page 160 - The ploughs, thirty-five in number, each drawn by its team of ten, stretched in an interminable line, nearly a quarter of a mile in length, behind and ahead of Vanamee. They were arranged, as it were, en echelon, not in file — not one directly behind the other, but each succeeding plough its own width farther in the field than the one in front of it. Each of these ploughs held five shears, so that when the entire company was in motion, one hundred and seventy-five furrows were made at the same...
Page 63 - ... vast power, huge, terrible, flinging the echo of its thunder over all the reaches of the valley, leaving blood and destruction in its path; the leviathan, with tentacles of steel clutching into the soil, the soulless Force, the iron-hearted Power, the monster, the Colossus, the Octopus.

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About the author (2008)

Alfred Kazin (1915-1998) was one of the most distinguished literary critics of the twentieth century. His numerous books include the highly acclaimed "On Native Ground: An Interpretation of Modern American Prose Literature,"

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