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Mcteague: A Story of San Francisco (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics) Paperback – 24 Nov 1994


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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (24 Nov. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140187693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140187694
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.3 x 20.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 759,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"A handsome text: the commentary and notes are really valuable."--E.N. Feltskog, University of Wisconsin"Excellent in all respects; a valuable teaching tool."--Benjamin Fisher, University of Mississippi"Nice notes and introduction. Well bound."--Daniel Finkman, Occidental College --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

The editor of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass in World's Classics, Frank Norris is Professor of English at Texas A & M University. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
It was Sunday, and, according to his custom on that day, McTeague took his dinner at two in the afternoon at the car conductors' coffee-joint on Polk Street. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 30 May 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a profoundly naturalistic novel, fixed on the dark side of the human species, his vices like jealousy, avarice and greed. `(Alcohol) roused the man, or rather the brute in the man, and now not only roused it, but goaded it to evil.'
Its philosophy is determinism: people follow their desires `blindly, recklessly, furious and raging at every obstacle' in `the changeless order of things'.
This determinism of no escape is perfectly illustrated in the last image: `As McTeague rose to his feet, he felt a pull at his right wrist. Looking down, he saw that Marcus in that last struggle had found the strength to handcuff their wrists together.'
The picture is sometimes overdone, a caricature: `The hideous yelling of a hurt beast, the squealing of a wounded elephant.'

And ultimately, the novel is less impressive than `The Pit' or `The Octopus', because it lacks a framework. People are acting as in a void. The novel is a pure illustration of characters. There is no social conditioning; e.g., the fact that a new legislation is introduced to regulate the profession of dentist is mainly used as a vengeance, out of jealousy.

But, all in all, it is (still) a courageous book and a very worth-while read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Sept. 1999
Format: Hardcover
McTeague is one of the greatest works of "classic American literature" I have ever read. Frank Norris was a genius at being able to size up the inhumanity of humanity & roll it all up in one great big nasty ball of literature that packs a punch that will knock you on your bum! McTeague is an uncaring brute who knows not the chaos that he creates. His wife is a gullible victim with a heart of gold. His best friend is ready to steal away his most prized posession. To top it all off is an ending for the ages that will leave one of the most stark, naked pictures presented in all of literature's annals. Many people will not enjoy McTeague because of the sheer brutality & the negative, crushing tone of the novel. For those of you who don't need rainbows & unicorns in a novel, I have a feeling you'll be absolutely thrilled by this American masterpiece.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By H. Tee on 19 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is another early natural realism novel by American author Frank Norris in around 1899. His writing style was inspired by Emile Zola (my favourite author). There was some controversy regarding the content at the time but to be honest compared to Zola the realistic incident (child wetting himself) most discussed in the press at the time is very mild in comparison.

This is the dark, nasty tale of McTeague, a slow witted dentist; his girlfriend Trina and their mutual friend (Trina's cousin) Marcus. The basic storyline being that Marcus wants Trina but gives way to McTeague. The dynamic occurs when Trina wins a fortune and Marcus regrets his magnanimity and falls out with McTeague.

An interesting angle with the construction of the story is another couple Maria (McTeague's housemaid) and Zerkow (a Jewish merchant) also get together but based on his belief that Maria has a hidden fortune in a gold dinner service. The dynamic of both couples rotating around both a real or imagined fortune is clever - suffice is to say brutal murder is the outcome.

This is a very slow burn sinister story with the build-up of the relationship of McTeague and Trina taking far too long I found. The depiction of the late 1800s America is very appealing but the realistic thrust of the story is just too meandering overall. Trina's miserliness dominates and steers the McTeague downfall. The extremely dramatic cowboy/western style ending, though worth the read of the book for, is the finale of about the last 10th of the book and appears somewhat out of place and perhaps overly contrived.

I found also that a significant event which lays McTeague low also mis-placed in that I'm sure (give the circumstances, which I won't state as it could be a spoiler) he could have found someway to carry on his profession.

In summary a good read but not nearly as enthralling as The Wheat.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Nov. 1998
Format: Hardcover
The Norris novel stuns the senses. It is the Cadillac of ingenuity. drama vs. rest. the rest, and the rest...descriptive and natural. one of the few books to captivate so well with a slow, sleepy head hero. one that starts out different, but is turned like the rest, violent and vengeful, illogical. and then raging, crying. like a wounded beast.
and Norris uses repetition and the placement of vastness to dig the graves of the vulgar people that inhabit the novel's space.
repition, crossed by the unexpected.
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