The Octopus

The Octopus Just after passing Caraher s saloon on the County Road that ran south from Bonneville and that divided the Broderson ranch from that of Los Muertos Presley was suddenly aware of the faint and prolo

  • Title: The Octopus
  • Author: Frank Norris
  • ISBN: 9781412168649
  • Page: 268
  • Format: ebook
  • Just after passing Caraher s saloon, on the County Road that ran south from Bonneville, and that divided the Broderson ranch from that of Los Muertos, Presley was suddenly aware of the faint and prolonged blowing of a steam whistle that he knew must come from the railroad shops near the depot at Bonneville In starting out from the ranch house that morning, he had forgotteJust after passing Caraher s saloon, on the County Road that ran south from Bonneville, and that divided the Broderson ranch from that of Los Muertos, Presley was suddenly aware of the faint and prolonged blowing of a steam whistle that he knew must come from the railroad shops near the depot at Bonneville In starting out from the ranch house that morning, he had forgotten his watch, and was now perplexed to know whether the whistle was blowing for twelve or for one o clock

    • The Octopus >> Frank Norris
      268 Frank Norris
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      Posted by:Frank Norris
      Published :2019-07-10T17:22:21+00:00


    About “Frank Norris

    • Frank Norris

      Benjamin Franklin Norris, Jr was an American novelist, during the Progressive Era, writing predominantly in the naturalist genre His notable works include McTeague 1899 , The Octopus A California Story 1901 , and The Pit 1903 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 influenced by the advent of Darwinism, and Thomas Henry Huxley s philosophical defense of it Norris was particularly influenced by an optimistic strand of Darwinist 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.



    435 thoughts on “The Octopus

    • This was my third time reading this book. I first read it for an American Lit survey course in college, and something about Norris' tenacious and unwavering passion for truth on a grand scale pulled my 20-something idealism in a new direction. In particular, there's a thread of social justice that elevates this book from being a good story to a poignant social statement.The story revolves around the growth of the railroad industry. At a time when the expansion of the railroads was being heralded [...]


    • I read this novel years ago after an undergraduate English professor kept mentioning it in a survey class I took on American literature of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was not an assigned text, though it was one that he clearly favored. I liked the professor very much; he was an impressively learned old school man who lectured with confident ease on a broad canvas about philosophical, political, and social currents that formed the backdrop of whatever works we happened to be reading. Th [...]


    • This book merits three stars based on historical interest alone. It's not Norris's best writing by a long shot, that honor belonging to "McTeague" (in this writer's never-humble opinion), and it's further evidence if any was needed that the loss to American letters that Norris's death at 32 was immense.The imagination that Norris evidenced in his six-book career is sharp. He saw clearly the world around him, and wasn't about to let the Great Unwashed fail to see it with his clarity. His infelici [...]


    • Prior to beginning The Octopus, the only thing I knew about Frank Norris was that his novel The Pit inspired Upton Sinclair to write The Jungle (I don't know if this is true but the four years between the two books makes it seem plausible). Thus I went into The Octopus with a fairly open mind.I loved it.It is not an easy book to read; the events it is based upon are not happy ones. The Octopus covers a period in California history where the railroads wielded an enormous amount of power not only [...]


    • News stories about Occupy Wall Street and the 99% have dominated the headlines for the past year. These same themes also dominate this century-old book, which was a bestseller in 1901. Here, the Octopus is the Railroad, its tentacles suffocating and destroying the lives of hardworking ranchers and their families.This book is also personal for me. It's based on real events that happened around 1880 in central California, only miles away from where I grew up a century later. The Southern Pacific l [...]


    • "How long must it go on? How long must we suffer? Where is the end: what is the end? How long must the ironhearted monster feed on our life's blood? How long must this terror of steam and steel ride upon our necks? Will you never be satisfied, will you never relent, you, our masters, you, our kings, you, our taskmasters, you, our Pharaohs? Will you never listen to that commandmentLet my people go?"This book is an epic of Wheat in California. And I mean it - an EPIC of WHEAT. I enjoyed it more th [...]


    • Not just a great American novel-- this book is THE great American novel, in its scope, its understanding of the American character and of the forces which have shaped the American civilization. The leading figures of the narrative, on both sides of the dispute, are risk-takers. Most of them are quite ruthless-- Presley the poet and Vanamee the mystic the chief exceptions. It's Frank Norris's genius that he makes us care about a man like Annixter despite his hardness and ruthlessness. Annixter an [...]



    • I read this for my 8th grade US History class.And let me tell you, it is fucking Epic with a capital E. Sure it's slow and dry at times (want better/worse, go read Steinbeck). But I can't tell you how absolutely monstrous this thing is. How much you begin to fear and realize the magnitude of the "Californian Dream", how merciless it is in scope, that it will crush a man and *his* dreams, to make it real.It comes full circle at the end, in a case of crazy-perfect justice. The Wheat of course, Win [...]


    • The railroad is bad. Especially in the 1880s. It is the destroyer of souls, the devil's most exquisite instrument of torture. That's about all I got for getting through this slog. It was fine. It wasn't offensive. But that's about the best compliment I can give it.


    • I feel like I've been reading this for years. It's like Frank Norris decided one day he was going to write an epic and didn't particularly care what it was about (much like the character Presley and his 'Song of the West').Overall I found this similar in story and tone to The Grapes of Wrath, only it's the Railroad (the titular Octopus) squeezing out mid-sized farms rather than the Bank and Big Farm squeezing out the poor farmer. It's obvious who you are supposed to side with, and yet Norris dep [...]


    • The Octopus: A Story of California is a 1901 novel by Frank Norris. I loved this book, it was awesome (I say that alot though). It was the first part of an uncompleted trilogy, The Epic of the Wheat. The Epic of the Wheat sounds so boring but I didn't find it boring at all.Frank Norris was an American author born in Chicago. It doesn't seem like he stayed there long though. He also lived in California, London, New York and Paris, he worked as a news correspondent in South Africa and as a war cor [...]


    • Has anyone identified a genre of fiction called "California Disillusionment"? In other words, where California Dreaming becomes California Screaming? "The Octopus: A Story of California" would be a centerpiece, along with The Grapes of Wrath and a book I read while I was reading this one: The Circle. And of course there are all those Hollywood novels, such as The Day of the Locust.The book that I kept being reminded of when I was reading this was "The Grapes of Wrath". The sense of place and the [...]


    • A great American epic, written by a twentysomething; my word, I thought I was too old to just find a book by chance from a second hand stall, one I had never heard of and having my mind BLOWN. My great hero John Steinbeck will read like Mills and Boon to me now, this is the top shelf stuff. Maybe it needs time to give my real judgement but at the moment this does not feel a great American novel, but THE great one.An ex journalist attempting to write the great ambitious novel of its time, part of [...]


    • I marked "The Octopus" as 'finished' but I quit at page 335. I knew this to be a famous work that was a factor in inspiring lawmakers to break the monopoly of the railroad, the octopus in the title. But I found the book to be a maudlin exercise in purple prose that had more historic than literary interest for me.There was an interesting sub-plot surrounding 'Vanamee' a wandering prophet-like character who is mourning the mysterious death of his young lover, Angele Varian, a tragedy that happened [...]


    • For quite some time i was going to give this 3 stars due to historical importance, but, my god, the Truth is this is an awesomely unpleasant reading experience. Seemingly endless pages of purple prose. There are bits and pieces of not quite greatness, but at least potential. The end of the first chapter, for example, was jaw droppingly good. I forgave quite a lot after that scene got it's hooks into me. But, after reading a bunch of creepy Annixter/Hilma scenes, I was done making allowances. So, [...]


    • This was an interesting novel - and I was able to research it somewhat in that it was based upon a real incident in 1880 - Mussel Slough Tragedy - and the book was written in 1901. Norris, who was young and died soon afterward had been a journalist and I think that very possibly the news stories from only 20 years before he published the book were likely very helpfulHe develops a variety of characters with an interesting variety of roles and histories and problems and fates.This is a book very m [...]


    • "The Octopus" is mentioned several times in the last book I read, "The Inventor and the Tycoon". Since I was a big fan of Norris' "McTeague", I decided to tackle this sweeping drama. Although the book is painfully slow in the beginning, it is well worth completing. Norris must have been inspired by Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables", as "The Octopus" delves into the lives of the Northern California farmers whose lives are held in the balance by the greedy railroad tycoons. The characters are extreme [...]


    • I don't know why people called this book "flawed" back in the twentieth century. Perhaps because it has a somewhat sympathetically Marxist tone. However, it's also an excellent picture of what the giant robber barons like Stanford & Co were really LIKE- and the struggle of ordinary people against a corporate monster, too big for true human comprehension, but at best, built to serve the few at the expense of the many. It's a bit Dickensian and also prefigures Jack London, who must have loved [...]


    • This is not a well written book, but historically it was important for getting people to hate the railroad barons um than they already did.At one point a woman starves to death for something like twenty pages. That's almost all I can remember. This whole fucking book has little point other than RAILROAD BAD. The railroad expands and people go about their piddly lives and then a bunch of people get screwed over but it's sooo hamfisted. Norris was not a fan of subtlety. Too bad a great point could [...]


    • Congratulations, Norris, you wrote an epic. It was one of the most clumsy, pointless, and bloated epics I've ever read, but it was still an epic. Seriously, I would have cut this book down to 1/3, maybe even 1/5. The words all joined, but everything was completely foreseeable from the beginning. From the first few pages I was just looking to get it done. It said what it had to say quickly and then went on and on and on. I expected a great, great deal more after having read McTeague. This was so [...]


    • I suspect this qualifies as a roman a clef (and a well-written one at that) as it takes a few well-aimed potshots at the great benefactor who founded my alma mater to honor his son. The railroad magnate Shelgrim in this novel lives on Nob Hill and has the initials L.S. Great imagery and allusions to the early days of California. This author died too young.


    • Prepare to wish you were reading a dry non-fiction history book about the railroads' effect on wheat farming in California instead of an "exciting" and "moving" novelization. This book is just a bunch of cardboard cutouts moving around in the semblance of a plot. Please, please don't get tricked into reading this book.


    • While Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" is placed as the great novel of California I would contend that "The Octopus" deserves the slot instead.


    • ranchers, railroads, rebellion, redemption, and revenge Prolixity, thy name is Norris ! My edition of 448 pages says that it has been edited. I would have been interested to know in what way because Norris is nothing if not verbose and repetitive. Add a healthy dose of 19th century idealistic, rosy romanticism, a bit of extra-sensory perception, communication with "shades", melodramatic deaths, and some old Anglo-Saxon racial prejudices and one would think, "Bob, why did you bother ?" But you wo [...]


    • Big themes and metaphors in this book all set in a realist context of a social struggle between wheat farmers in California and the inexorable expansion of the railroad company opposed to their interestsbut Norris isn't afraid to wax poetic and even mystical as he also engages larger themes of love and resurrection as well as redemption and ruin for some of the characters. Here's a few of my favorite quotes from the novel:"It could be foreseen that morally he was of that sort who avoid evil thro [...]


    • I love The Octopus. Norris's prose is the literary equivalent of a drum solo. You almost nead earplugs while reading, because the repetition of such assertive phrases is like being in a room where a brilliant rock band is rehearsing.But The Octopus isn't consistent. It loses inertia at the 80% mark. It isn't plausible that Norris's narrative drops away accidentally - the dissection of the book into two unequal parts is a carefully calculated decision. However, it's one that doesn't work as well [...]


    • “Ripples of Despair from Corporate Tentacles” One of America’s most famous Muckraker books THE OCTOPUS, subtitled, “A Novel of California,” ranks as a no-holds-barred expose and condemnation of corporate greed and corruption--which ruined both lives, businesses and farms by instigating clever chicanery of a fictitious railroad (nominally, the Southern Pacific) whose callous owners became wealthy and powerful moguls at the expense of thousands of innocent peons. There was no recourse to [...]


    • The pessimism that is usually associated with the naturalistic novel is missing here. Characters falling, usually early in life, because of some personal flaw that is exaggerated by an unsympathetic environment are present in 'The Octopus' and most certainly do die early or are ruined. But a transcendental belief, expressed through Christian religious imagery and an invocation of Utilitarian philosophy, is offered as justification that all this ruin is for an ultimate good. The book is repetitiv [...]


    • Frank Norris is a frustrating writer, simultaneously grandiose in his singular attempt to fashion a material interconnectedness between things (-Norris' writing is oh so very thingy-) and limited by the prejudices of his imagination and social class. He displays a fierce compassion for the dispossessed, yet is able to write a sentence as racist and grotesque as: "The Anglo-Saxon spectators round about drew back in disgust, but the hot, degenerated blood of Portuguese, Mexican, and mixed Spaniard [...]


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