By Frank Norris
Just like the tentacles of an octopus, the tracks of the railroad reached out throughout California, as though to understand every thing of price within the kingdom according to a precise, bloody dispute among wheat farmers and the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1880, The Octopus is a beautiful novel of the waning days of the frontier West. To the tough-minded and self-reliant farmers, the monopolistic, land-grabbing railroad represented every little thing they despised: consolidation, association, conformity. yet Norris idealizes nobody during this epic depiction of the unstable state of affairs, for the farmers themselves ruthlessly exploited the land, and of their starvation for higher holdings they resorted to a similar strategies utilized by the railroad: subversion, coercion and outright violence. In his creation, Kevin Starr discusses Norris's debt to Zola for the novel's notable sweep, scale and abundance of characters and info.
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Extra info for The Octopus: A Story of California: The Epic of Wheat v. 1 (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics)
Acts of origination are ubiquitous in New World histories – one of the first ones was visualized by Theodor de Bry. In his famous sixteenthcentury engraving, the scenario of encounter is clearly theatrical. Carefully choreographed by acts of taking possession, such as planting a cross, his engraving enacts the drama of ‘discovery’ by offering a powerful display of native bodies. Semi-naked, the Amerindians, however, do not assume center stage but are pushed to the margin. Some are shown running away, leaving the scene; others are there as part of a group that is cropped by the end of the engraving.
Her mother was treated as the latter, denied “analgesics”(52) to deliver her child for having conceived out of wedlock, and an unnamed man – we assume he was her father – “spit on her” (82). S. Army that tried to discourage these relationships by reassigning soldiers and refusing their pregnant German lovers information on their whereabouts (see “Occupation”). It is hardly surprising that Magdaleno’s mother left Germany with her infant daughter to follow the GI who wanted to marry her (see 51).
Ed. Homi K. Bhabha. New York: Routledge, 1990. 291-322. Boelhower, William. Through a Glass Darkly, Ethnic Semiosis in American Literature. Venice: Helvetia P, 1984. Bruce-Novoa, Juan. Chicano Authors: Inquiry by Interview. Austin: U of Texas P, 1980. —. Chicano Poetry, A Response to Chaos. Austin: U of Texas P, 1982. —. Only the Good Times. Houston: Arte Público P, 1995. Candelaria, Nash. Memories of the Alhambra. San José: Cibola P, 1977. Cypress, Sandra Messinger. La Malinche in Mexican Literature: From History to Myth.
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