Like a predatory octopus, the railroad tracks of California squeezed the wheat fields and the farmers with its steel tentacles. A story of deep personal tragedies, The Octopus concerns political corruption and American enterprise. It explores the natural forces that shaped individual human lives, and is an acknowledged masterpiece of American literary naturalism.
Benjamin Franklin Norris, Jr., was born on March 5, 1870, in Chicago. Around 1896, Norris joined the staff of the weekly literary and general interest magazine the San Francisco Wave and integrated himself into the local literary community. He wrote The Octopus as the opening volume in a trilogy about wheat.