(Benjamin Franklin Norris), 1870-1902, American novelist, b. Chicago. After studying in Paris, at the Univ. of California (1890-94), and at Harvard, he spent several years as a war correspondent in South Africa (1895-96) and Cuba (1898). His proletarian novel McTeague
(1899) was influenced by the experimental naturalism
. His most impressive works were two parts of a proposed novelistic trilogy entitled "The Epic of Wheat"—The Octopus
(1901), depicting the brutal struggle between wheat farmers and the railroad, and The Pit
(1903), dealing with speculation on the Chicago grain market. The trilogy and Norris's burgeoning literary career were cut short by his death from a ruptured appendix. The Responsibilities of the Novelist
(1903). an essay collection, contains his idealistic views on the role of the writer.
See biography by J. R. McElrath, Jr. and J. S. Crisler (2005); study by B. Hochman (1988).
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