McTeague: A Story of San Francisco

Overview

McTeague created a literary sensation when it first appeared in 1899. Critics hailed Frank Norris as the "American Zola" for his gritty tale of greed and violence set in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. Yet the novel's ultra-realistic portrayal of the rise and fall of a simpleminded dentist and his grasping wife shocked many readers with its candid depiction of sordid behavior right at the edge of insanity. It remains a searing indictment of human weakness and selfishness in a rapidly evolving America that ...
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McTeague: A Story of San Francisco (Barnes & Noble Digital Library)

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Overview

McTeague created a literary sensation when it first appeared in 1899. Critics hailed Frank Norris as the "American Zola" for his gritty tale of greed and violence set in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. Yet the novel's ultra-realistic portrayal of the rise and fall of a simpleminded dentist and his grasping wife shocked many readers with its candid depiction of sordid behavior right at the edge of insanity. It remains a searing indictment of human weakness and selfishness in a rapidly evolving America that battled to reconcile city life with the mores of the Wild West.

Norris captures in almost obsessive detail the darker side of life in a still-young San Francisco.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The classic novel by Frank Norris is revisited in this 1989 recording by an immensely talented and well-directed group of actors. Set in 1899 San Francisco, Norris's story relates the life and times of a dentist, played wonderfully by Stacy Keach, and his wife, Trina (Carol Kane). With a celebrity cast of nearly 40 players that features superior performances from, among others, Helen Hunt, Ed Asner, Marsha Mason, Teri Garr and Hector Elizondo, the production is flawless and captivating. With music and realistic sound effects, director Gordon Hunt takes full advantage of the performing weapons at his disposal. Notable standouts include Joe Spano, who plays Trina's jealous cousin, Katherine Helmond as Miss Baker and Bud Cort portraying an array of secondary characters. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Benjamin Franklin Norris, Jr. (March 5, 1870 - October 25, 1902) was an American novelist, during the Progressive Era, writing predominantly in the naturalist genre. His notable works include McTeague (1899), The Octopus: A Story of California (1901), and The Pit (1903).
Frank Norris's work often includes depictions of suffering caused by corrupt and greedy turn-of-the-century corporate monopolies. In The Octopus: A California Story, the Pacific and Southwest Railroad is implicated in the suffering and deaths of a number of ranchers in Southern California. At the end of the novel, after a bloody shootout between farmers and railroad agents at one of the ranches (named Los Muertos), readers are encouraged to take a "larger view" that sees that "through the welter of blood at the irrigating ditch ... the great harvest of Los Muertos rolled like a flood from the Sierras to the Himalayas to feed thousands of starving scarecrows on the barren plains of India". Though free-wheeling market capitalism causes the deaths of many of the characters in the novel, this "larger view always ... discovers the Truth that will, in the end, prevail, and all things, surely, inevitably, resistlessly work together for good".
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Reading Group Guide

An unflinchingly realistic portrayal of the moral descent of a San Francisco dentist, McTeague, first published in 1899, helped to propel American literature into the twentieth century. “The novel glows in a light that makes it the first great tragic portrait in America of an acquisitive society,” writes Alfred Kazin in the Introduction to this Modern Library Paperback Classic. “McTeague’s San Francisco is the underworld of that society, and the darkness of its tragedy, its pitilessness, its grotesque humor, is like the rumbling of hell. Nothing is more remarkable in the book than the detachment with which Norris saw it—a tragedy almost literally classic in the Greek sense of the debasement of a powerful man—and nothing gives it so much power.”
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2006

    A real treasure of a book!

    Riveting is right! One would never know that this book was originally published in 1899. It reads like a modern novel, and I found it extremely hard to put down. You have a sensation of being carried from page to page by the author, without being aware of the words which transport you. The psychological tension was built very artfully. And it was so delightful to read about everyday life in San Francisco in the 1890's -- I went out and bought some genuine San Francisco Anchor steam beer afterwards! The story was so popular that one director created a 10-hour B&W silent version of the book in the 1920's! This was the first book I read by Frank Norris, and I was oh so pleasantly surprised. What a tragedy that Norris died at the age of 32 what a wealth of fine literature he could have provided us. This is a great book on many levels, and the B&N Library of Essential Reading edition is especially handsome and readable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Nature vs. Nurture

    Its a great read; felt sort of like a precursor to The Great Gatsby.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 7 Customer Reviews

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