Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Frank Norris wrote McTeague, The Octopus

Still from Erich von Stroheim's 1924 film Greed.
It is the birthday of writer Frank Norris (1870), whose novels McTeague (1899), The Octopus (1901), and The Pit (1903) are considered by scholars to be prime examples of naturalism in American literature. Norris was heavily influenced by the work of French naturalist writer Emile Zola and by the ideas of naturalist Charles Darwin. McTeague is set in San Francisco during the Gold Rush. It was the basis of Erich von Stroheim's 1924 film Greed, a 10-hour epic that has been lost. Foreign film translator Herman Weinberg compiled and edited a book, The Complete Greed of Erich von Stroheim (1972), containing a comprehensive collection of stills from the film. The Octopus dealt with the struggle between wheat farmers and the railroad monopolies in California at the end of the 19th century. The Pit, which was published after Norris died, was about wheat speculation and the trading pits of the Chicago Board of Trade. Norris died before he finished The Wolf: A Story of Empire, the third part of a planned trilogy on wheat.

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