Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Frank Norris (1870-1902) - Noted Author

[Gravesite photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 12

“No art that is not in the end understood by the People can live or ever did live a single generation.” – Frank Norris

Frank Norris was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1870, and moved to San Francisco at the age of fourteen. He later became a member of San Francisco's artistic Bohemian Club, which included such literary notables as Jack London and Ambrose Bierce. He studied painting in Paris for two years, where he was exposed to the naturalist novels of Emile Zola. He attended the University of California, Berkeley between 1890 and 1894 and then spent a year at Harvard University. Norris travelled to South Africa where he attempted to establish himself as a travel writer. He wrote about the Boer War for the San Francisco Chronicle but was deported from the country after being captured by the Boer Army. He worked as a news correspondent in South Africa in 1895–96, and then an editorial assistant on the San Francisco Wave (1896–97). He worked for McClure's Magazine as a war correspondent in Cuba during the Spanish-American war in 1898. He joined the New York City publishing firm of Doubleday & Page in 1899.

In 1900 Frank Norris married Jeanette Black. They had a child in 1901. Norris died in 1902 of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix, leaving his young wife and baby and leaving The Epic of Wheat trilogy unfinished. He was only 32.

Norris' McTeague has been filmed repeatedly, most famously as a 1924 film called Greed by director Erich von Stroheim, which is today considered a classic of silent cinema. An opera by William Bolcolm, based loosely on this 1899 novel, was premiered by Chicago's Lyric Opera in 1992. The work is in two acts, with libretto by Arnold Weinstein and Robert Altman. The Lyric Opera's presentation featured Ben Heppner in the title role and Catherine Malfitano as Trina, the dentist's wife.

No comments: