Frank Norris in The Gilded Age
Frank Norris (1870-1902) was an author whose major works include McTeague (1899), The Octopus (1901), and The Pit (1903). Norris was born in Chicago but moved west with his family and attended the University of California in 1890. Intent on a literary career, he accepted a job with the San Francisco Chronicle in 1895 and traveled to South Africa to cover the Boer War.
As a novelist, Norris explored the impact of emerging economic forces on the individual. In The Octopus, for example, he chronicled the conflict between California ranchers and the railroads. On a deeper level, Norris was among a group of turn of the century writers who rebelled against the "overcivilized" conditions of late-nineteenth-century America, and the "feminized" literature that these conditions produced. In his works, the harsher realities of "real life" are exposed and often celebrated as sources of insight into the more authentic and vital character of human existence.