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The Octopus, A Story of California von Frank…
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The Octopus, A Story of California (Original 1901; 1906. Auflage)

von Frank Norris

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8461620,091 (3.32)1 / 55
Based on an actual bloody dispute in 1880 between wheat farmers and the Southern Pacific Railroad, this shocking tale of greed, betrayal, and a lust for power is played out during the waning days of the western frontier. The Octopus vividly and relentlessly records social and economic problems of the late-19th century.… (mehr)
Mitglied:prufrock9
Titel:The Octopus, A Story of California
Autoren:Frank Norris
Info:A. Wessels Co. (1906), Hardcover
Sammlungen:Deine Bibliothek
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Der Octopus (Rowohlt Jahrhundert) von Frank Norris (1901)

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» Siehe auch 55 Erwähnungen/Diskussionen

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  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
What a crock! The book ends with "...all things surely, inevitably, resistessly work together for good." How disappointing is the philosophy of the author to be so ignorant of life. The story starts out slow and has many characters. The conflict is interesting and the devastation of the ranchers is truly dismal. The latter half of the book was engaging and I enjoyed it, although some aspects were odd, like that of Vanamee. I sincerely disagree with the author. Conflict does not end and does not surely lead to good. Life, death, conflict, misery, and happiness are continuing series of events leading to no specific end. ( )
  GlennBell | May 23, 2017 |
Wheat famers. Bakersfield, CA. Railroad. These three factors made me think I was going to hate this book. I was wrong. I could not put this book (all 500 pages) down. My eyes literally turned red from reading. It's the classic railroad v. farmers story, but written in such a way that it's actually interesting. A lovely surprise. ( )
  Sareene | Oct 22, 2016 |
In the late 1800's, the state of California awarded a monopoly to the Railroad to build a rail line down the length of the Central California Valley. As an incentive, the Railroad was awarded large tracks of land along side the new rail line. The Railroad invited farmers to settle on the Railroad land, promising that they would be sold the land at some future time.

This story concerns the plight of these farmers as they farm the rich farmland, but find themselves at the mercy of the powerful Railroad. All the organized moves of the Central Valley farms to shake the Railroad yoke off are anticipated and checked by the powerful Railroad.

Our point of view and sympathy are with the farmers, and we see the Railroad as a soul-less evil. Finally, at the end of the story, after all the lives are ruined or broke, the protagonist travels to San Francisco to confront the heartless monster who has ruined all the good farmers. We are shocked to learn the head of the Railroad is himself a prisoner of the economic forces that rule the world. It is 'the wheat' and the people who consume the wheat that control the process. The wheat must move to the hungry people of the world, and anyone who is hurt in the process is just a trivial footnote to a force of nature. ( )
  ramon4 | Sep 25, 2016 |
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 leased land to ranchers, and then after the land was developed and the lease time was at end, the railroad increased the price tenfold and then acted to force the farmers off the land. The end result was the Mussel Slough Tragedy, a shoot-out that killed several men and made the surviving ranchers into local folk heroes.

Norris used those elements to create his drama of the West. He changed many of the facts; in his book, the incident takes place right before 1900, and the real places of Hanford and Grangeville have been altered to Bonneville and Guadalajara, respectively. The latter also has a mission in this telling. The geography is also strangely different with nearby hills and canyons that provide handy places for his characters to look down upon the valley of promise; in reality, the hills are some 40 miles away.

There are some classics that age better than others. The Octopus is very slow to get going. It has a wide cast of characters and changes points of view on a whim. The women are stock characters, either simpering or overly noble; the real protagonists are the men. In Victorian fashion, the descriptions wax eloquent and can go on for pages. Very little happens in the first 2/3 of this 650 page novel. Much of it is building up the tension, slowly, and has a great deal of angst. However, when the end comes it actually moves along at a steady clip. It's a tragedy in a Rocks Fall Everyone Dies sort of way. Most of the main cast is annihilated: the men dead, the women suffering through miscarriage or poverty or prostitution. All of this is the fault of the railroad or their own moral failings.

Those moral failings are heavy-handed in the style of the time, but also are not clear black and white. The most upstanding of the characters suffer because of their poor choices. A character I disliked immensely at the beginning was Annixter; he was creepy and anti-woman, with an angry fixation on his dairymaid. However, by the end of the book he had transformed and became a redemptive figure because of the love of that very dairymaid.

The book is also steeped in the biased attitudes of the time. The head of the railroad is Jewish. The cast of good guys is very Anglo-Saxon. The lesser farmhands, such as the Portuguese, are regarded with disdain (which is amazing to me since the valley's Portuguese population is now so large and integral). The most blatantly racist line of the book is near the end, after a jack rabbit round-up: "The Anglo-Saxon spectators round drew back in disgust, but the hot, degenerated blood of the Portuguese, Mexican, and mixed Spaniard boiled up in excitement at this wholesale slaughter." It makes me wince, but the statement is also a reflection of the time period and must be seen in that context. Also, most of those wincing Anglo-Saxons ended up dead, but the so-called degenerates lived on. Perhaps there's a sort of Darwinism in that.

It's not a fun read, but I found it fascinating to read a dramatization of events that happened a few miles away from my home, and I'm glad I finally trudged through the tome. Sometimes it's good to read a classic just to be able to say, "I read that." ( )
4 abstimmen ladycato | Jan 10, 2012 |
keine Rezensionen | Rezension hinzufügen

» Andere Autoren hinzufügen (5 möglich)

AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Frank NorrisHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
Cargill, OscarNachwortCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Lynn, Kenneth S.EinführungCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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Based on an actual bloody dispute in 1880 between wheat farmers and the Southern Pacific Railroad, this shocking tale of greed, betrayal, and a lust for power is played out during the waning days of the western frontier. The Octopus vividly and relentlessly records social and economic problems of the late-19th century.

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