Frank Norris was a late 19th century American novelist writing in the naturalist genre. His most famous works include McTeague (1899), The Octopus: A California Story (1901), and The Pit (1903). His works show socialistic tendencies and were influenced by Darwin and Huxley. His work often includes depictions of suffering caused by corrupt and greedy turn-of-the-century corporate monopolies. McTeague is a murder mystery concerning a dentist who loses his practice when the authorities find out he lacks both license and diploma. He kills his miserly wife in frustration and attempts to evade capture in Death Valley.
The novelist Frank Norris is almost forgotten today, but in books like "McTeague," published in 1899, he paved the way for a whole generation of American writers--a generation that included Theodore Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis and, less directly, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. McTeague is a dentist saddled with a grasping wife, and the book chronicles his rise and fall in awkward but powerful prose. This type of social realism, so contrary to the uplifting entertainment of the day (and to Mark Twain's more fanciful, comic novels), provided turn-of-the-century America a disturbing mirror in which to view itself.