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The Pit: A Story of Chicago Paperback – November 8, 2007

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The Pit: A Story of Chicago + The Octopus: A Story of California (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics) (v. 1) + Sister Carrie (Dover Thrift Editions)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: NuVision Publications, LLC (November 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595477705
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595477705
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,631,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Frank Norris (1870-1902), an American novelist and journalist, born in Chicago, Illinois. An avid reader of Emile Zola and Edgar Allan Poe, most of his works belong to the naturalist genre. As a reporter, he wrote about the Boer War and the other conflicts of South Africa, as well as the upheavals in Cuba. Although he never voiced his socialist views, they are reflected in his fictional works. He continued his career as a journalist while writing fiction frequently and was successful in both pursuits. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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The rough and tumble of the `Pit' is paralleled by a story about an innocent maiden.
As he did with the farmers in "the Octopus", he gives the characters a complexity in that they can be both sympathetic victims and exploiters.
Mark bennett
And it’s that fully realized setting which makes this great novel come to life as an exciting American story.
Louis Foster

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bomojaz on April 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
The second novel in an unfinished trilogy (THE OCTOPUS was the initial volume), it's the story of how a man's ruthless business ambitions drive a wedge between himself and the love of his wife. Curtis Jadwin speculates in the Chicago wheat market; his successes propel him into wanting to "corner the market," which he proceeds to do. In the wake of all that "desire of the moth for the star," as Shelley put it, is the detritus of ruined men committing suicide, failed health, and Jadwin's own crumbling marriage due to neglect. Indeed, his wife Laura almost succumbs to the attentions of another man, Sheldon Corthell, but is brought back to her husband's side when he becomes ill. The scenes with Laura are the least successful because they are the most melodramatic. Norris felt the need, of course, to put things on an even keel again before the story's close; thus Jadwin loses all his money on a poor gamble regarding a banner wheat harvest that sends the market reeling, which brings on his illness and the loyal Laura. All's well that ends well, as the couple head West to start a new, though financially poorer, life (in 1903 it was still possible to do that). Norris is at his best in the wheeling and dealing that occurs in the Chicago exchange: the writing there is exciting and crisp. This tale of greed vs. marital love is a good one, though not as powerful as THE OCTOPUS.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful By mchenryed on September 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The Pit is a story about the Chicago Wheat market during the early 1900's. Norris writes a historical / romance book in which Laura Dearborn finds herself in Chicago from Boston. Almost immediately, she is beset by a variety of suitors. However, she is most taken by Curtis Jadwin, a sophisticated businessman who is influential on the Chicago Board of Trade.
After marrying Laura, the conservative speculator, after making a nice profit on the wheat market, becomes obsessive over controlling it. As the story unfolds, his wealth grows in a short period of time and for a while he captures the market. Ultimately, though, the market corrects itself and he must save his fortune as well as his wife, Laura, whose love begins to flee from lack of attention from Jadwin.
I found this book very slow at the beginning. However, once the market traps Jadwin, the book becomes exciting and the pages fly by. Laura is a realistic character, although I didn't have a lot of sympathy for her - she come off rather spoiled and hapless. Norris's point about the addictiveness of speculating on wheat futures and the power that it has over the rest of the world is evident. A solid book and worth reading by those who like that period of time or are interested in Chicago's history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J C E Hitchcock on December 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
"The Pit: A Story of Chicago" was the second novel in Frank Norris's projected trilogy "The Epic of the Wheat", "The Octopus" being the first. In the event, however, Norris died suddenly in October 1902 leaving the third installment, provisionally titled "The Wolf", unwritten.

"The Pit" is in many ways a very different book from its predecessor. It is much shorter, being only just over half the length of "The Octopus". Whereas "The Octopus" was mostly rural in its setting, "The Pit" is entirely urban, with the whole of the action taking place in Chicago. "The Octopus" did not have a single protagonist, with several characters, all male, taking the leading role at different stages of the book. "The Pit", by contrast, concentrates on the fortunes of a single married couple, the wealthy businessman Curtis Jadwin and his wife Laura. What the two novels have in common, apart from the theme of wheat, is Norris's socialist world view and his critical attitude towards what he saw as capitalist greed.

In "The Octopus", capitalism is represented by the powerful railroad company which ruthlessly uses its monopoly on transport to exploit the Californian wheat growers. In "The Pit" Norris's target is the commodity dealers at the Chicago Board of Trade, who can make or lose immense fortunes by speculating on the price of wheat and other commodities. The title "The Pit" refers to the trading floor of the Board of Trade, but in biblical language it can also be a synonym for Hell or the grave, as in Psalm 88. ("I am counted with them that go down into the Pit"). The dealers generally have little or no regard to the hardship which they inflict on others. The "Bears", who manipulate the market by artificially depressing the price of wheat, inflict hardship on American farmers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on May 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
`The Pit' is a story of speculation on the price of wheat in the Chicago wheat exchange (the `Pit') at a moment when agriculture was the main industry in the world.

As Frank Norris tells us: speculation `is a matter of life and death', not for the speculators (`the fellows in the Pit don't care about the grain'), but for the farmers and the world population, because the speculators `say just how much the peasant shall pay for his loaf of bread. If he can't pay the price, he simply starves.'
The price is also vital for the world economy: `Because of some sudden eddy spinning outward in the middle of the Pit's turmoil, a dozen bourses of continental Europe clamored with panic, a dozen Old-World banks trembled.'

An `Unknown Bull' succeeds in cornering the wheat market sending the price to dizzying heights. But his greed is also his fall. The high prices attract farmers all over the world to grow a bumper crop: `It was as if the Wheat, Nourisher of the Nations, as it rolled gigantic and majestic in a vast flood from West to East, here, like a Niagara, finding its flow impeded, burst suddenly into the appalling fury of the Maëlstrom.'
The rough and tumble of the `Pit' is paralleled by a story about an innocent maiden. She also chooses the speculator, `always cruel, selfish, pitiless, the fighter, rigorous, panoplied in the harness of the warrior', instead of the artist `and his cult of the beautiful, soft of hand and speech, refined, sensitive and temperamental.'

This novel, whose subject is still very topical, is sometimes not without a certain sentimentality and theatricality. But it should not be missed.
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