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Born Mar. 5, 1870, in Chicago; died Oct. 25, 1902, in San Francisco. American author.
The son of a wealthy businessman, Norris studied art at a studio in Paris and attended the University of California and Harvard University. He contributed to newspapers. In his first novels, marked by the influence of E. Zola, Norris demonstrated how young people’s characters are warped by the conditions of American life (Vandover and the Brute, 1895; published, 1914) and condemned the corrupting passion for profit (McTeague, 1893–97; published, 1899). Norris’s masterpiece was the novel The Octopus (1901; Russian translation, 1902)—the first part of the unfinished trilogy The Epic of the Wheat. The second novel of the trilogy was The Pit (1903, Russian translation, 1903); the third novel, The Wolf, was never written. Taking an episode from the history of the armed struggle of American farmers against the railroad monopoly in California (the “octopus”), Norris reflected the essential characteristics of the cruel dictatorship of the monopolies and, simultaneously, the beginning of the anti-imperialist struggle of the American people. The symbolic character of Wheat reflected the philosophical, sociological, and moral convictions of the author and embodied Norris’s concept of the onward march of history. The novel The Pit, which exposes the big wheat speculators of Chicago, is a somewhat weaker work than The Octopus. Its theme is developed with greater realistic depth in the story A Deal in Wheat (1902; Russian translation, 1958). Norris was also the author of a collection of literary criticism published in 1903.
WORKSComplete Works, vols. 1–10. Port Washington, N. Y., 1967.
REFERENCESSamarin, R. M. “Problema naturalizma v literature SShA i razvitie amerikanskogo romana na rubezhe XIX-XX vv.” In the collection Problemy istorii literatury SShA. Moscow, 1964.
Hill, J. S. The Merrill Checklist of Frank Norris. Columbus, Ohio, 1970.
Lohf, K. A., and E. P. Sheehy. Frank Norris: A Bibliography. New York, 1968.
I. E. BABUSHKINA