The Octopus: A Story of California

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Overview

Like his more famous contemporary Upton Sinclair, American author BENJAMIN FRANKLIN NORRIS, JR. (1870-1902) also highlighted the corruption and greed of corporate monopolies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries... themes that continue to make his work riveting reading more than a century later.

The Octopus, first published in 1901, is the tale of a war between wheat growers in California and the Railroad Trust. Rancher Magnus Derrick and railroad representative S. Behrman ...

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The Octopus (Barnes & Noble Digital Library): A Story of California

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Overview

Like his more famous contemporary Upton Sinclair, American author BENJAMIN FRANKLIN NORRIS, JR. (1870-1902) also highlighted the corruption and greed of corporate monopolies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries... themes that continue to make his work riveting reading more than a century later.

The Octopus, first published in 1901, is the tale of a war between wheat growers in California and the Railroad Trust. Rancher Magnus Derrick and railroad representative S. Behrman square off-to disastrous results-as poet Presley, a stand-in for Norris, observes and chronicles the tragedy.

The first part of Norris's projected "Trilogy of the Epic of the Wheat," The Octopus is followed by 1903's The Pit, also available from Cosimo. (Norris died before he could write the third volume, The Wolf.)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556854743
  • Publisher: Audio Book Contractors, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/1/1997
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged

Meet the Author

Benjamin Franklin Norris, Jr. (1870-1902) was an American novelist, during the Progressive Era, writing predominantly in the naturalist genre. His notable works include McTeague, The Octopus: A Story of California, and The Pit. 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. Although he did not openly support socialism as a political system, his work nevertheless evinces a socialist mentality and influenced socialist/progressive writers such as Upton Sinclair. Like many of his contemporaries, he was profoundly affected by the advent of Evolution, and Thomas Henry Huxley's philosophical defense of it. Norris was particularly influenced by an optimistic strand of Evolutionary philosophy taught by Joseph LeConte, whom Norris studied under while at the University of California, Berkeley. Through many of his novels, notably McTeague, runs a preoccupation with the notion of the civilized man overcoming the inner "brute," his animalistic tendencies. His peculiar, and often confused, brand of Social Darwinism also bears the influence of the early criminologist Cesare Lombroso and the French naturalist Emile Zola.
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2012

    This was a great novel. Really interesting details of the times.

    This was a great novel. Really interesting details of the times.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2004

    Don't Miss The Hidden Message

    This book seem like a one sided tale of how terrible big business can be. But late in the book our principal charitar has a meeting with the percieved evil person that is the President of the railroad. During this encounter the RR President confesses that at any time the farmers could have refused to do business with the railroad and pressured the railroad into more agreeable business arangments.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2003

    Don't let any 'socialist hype' deter you

    Frank Norris uses the English language like a fine artist uses paint. This is a brilliant, timeless novel that explores an interesting era of American history. I was leary to read the book due to the fear of getting a 'Sinclair-ian' socialist lecture, but this novel simply tells a human story with the objectivity of a good journalist. One of the true 'American' classics.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2001

    An American Epic

    This century-old novel is as timely today as when it was first published. In an archetypal tale of struggle between farmers and Railroad, People and Trust, Norris explores the brutality, injustice and evil of the capitalist system. A brilliant, gut-wrenching cry of social protest.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 1999

    'Muckraking for muck's sake' , Teddy Roosevelt

    Teddy ridiculed the writers and photographers wh exposed the darker side of prosperous turn of the century America. Norris does all of that and more buy exposing greed, corruption, hate, and family troubles in The Octopus. With memorable characters like Buck Anexter, Vanamee, and Hilma Tree this is a book for all time and all people.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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