Vandover and the Brute

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Echo Library, 2006 - Fiction - 188 pages
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1914. The overriding theme in Norris' fiction is the impact of industrialization on peaceful agricultural communities and the consequent chaos in the lives of people who lived in these communities. Written almost simultaneously with his great work, McTeague, Norris began writing Vandover and the Brute in Cambridge and completed it after his return to San Francisco. The influence of the great Frenchman, Emil Zola is apparent throughout the book. The novel begins: It was always a matter of wonder to Vandover that he was able to recall so little of his past life. With the exception of the most recent events he could remember nothing connectedly. What he at first imagined to be the story of his life, on closer inspection turned out to be but a few disconnected incidents that his memory had preserved with the greatest capriciousness, absolutely independent of their importance. One of these incidents might be a great sorrow, a tragedy, a death in his family; and another, recalled with the same vividness, the same accuracy of detail, might be a matter of the least moment. See other titles by this author available from Kessinger Publishing.

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About the author (2006)

Considered one of the leading pioneers in American Naturalism, Frank Norris is read and studied for his vivid and honest depiction of life at the beginning of a lusty and developing new century. Born in Chicago, he moved to San Francisco with his well-to-do family when he was 14 and went on to attend the University of California and Harvard University before becoming a war correspondent in South Africa and Cuba. His early apprentice work consisted mostly of rather unremarkable adventure stories, but with the long-gestating McTeague: A Story of San Francisco (1899), he struck a new note. That powerful study of avarice in a seedy section of the Bay Area may well be Norris's masterpiece. The Octopus (1901), the first of Norris's projected Epic of the Wheat series, deals with the raising of wheat in California and the struggle of ranchers against the railroads, while The Pit (1903) is a novel about speculation on the Chicago wheat exchange. Unfortunately, Norris died suddenly after an operation for appendicitis. Like Stephen Crane, a writer with whom Norris is frequently compared, Norris died too young to fulfill his considerable promise, but he has more than held his own ground among turn-of-the-century writers whose works have lived. One reason may be that he took his craft as a writer seriously, as is shown by his posthumously published Responsibilities of the Novelist and Other Literary Essays (1903) and The Literary Criticism of Frank Norris, edited by Donald Pizer.

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