Webster's edition of this classic is organized to expose the reader to a maximum number of synonyms and antonyms for difficult and often ambiguous English words that are encountered in other works of literature, conversation, or academic examinations. Extremely rare or idiosyncratic words and expressions are given lower priority in the notes compared to words which are ¿difficult, and often encountered¿ in examinations. Rather than supply a single synonym, many are provided for a variety of meanings, allowing readers to better grasp the ambiguity of the English language, and avoid using the notes as a pure crutch. Having the reader decipher a word's meaning within context serves to improve vocabulary retention and understanding. Each page covers words not already highlighted on previous pages. If a difficult word is not noted on a page, chances are that it has been highlighted on a previous page. A more complete thesaurus is supplied at the end of the book; synonyms and antonyms are extracted from Webster's Online Dictionary.
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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.