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Vandover and the Brute

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  108 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Rejected by nineteenth-century publishers for its sordid and shocking subject matter, Vandover and the Brute is a powerful novel of turn-of-the-century San Francisco.
Paperback, 188 pages
Published November 1st 2006 by Echo Library (first published 1914)
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April 21, 2017
I have been pondering this book for four days and have already three drafts of a review on my laptop. Reviewing it has been a struggle. I cannot say that this book was "enjoyable" any more than Norris's novel McTeague was enjoyable. But not all books are meant to be enjoyed. Yet I was fascinated, mesmerized almost. I simply could not stop reading this, even though it seemed long and laborious, without a clear destination or message.

These two novels by Frank Norris show humans who
Dec 24, 2007 Ashley rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of American Gothic and Dostoevsky
This book is an amazing display of dualities - between Vandover, the preppy college kid in 1890s California, and his morally sick alter ego, The Brute. This book shows how the contrasting moralities of the different socioeconomic classes and genders coexist in the late 19th century city. Gone are the tender fireside scenes of "Little Women" and in their place are the vice districts that draw in people from all walks of life. This is novel about America's "adolescence" as it spanned the gap betwe ...more
Mar 15, 2017 Jerrica rated it liked it
Shelves: midd-senior
This is an unfinished manuscript of Norris's that was published posthumously. The book has marks of that; some descriptions and monologues of characters go nowhere. Norris LOVES describing a place down to its minutest detail, so I wonder if he had more time he would've cut down on a few of them. I skimmed many of them without missing out on much.

This is a DARK book about one man's degradation into animalistic madness through the syphilis he got sleeping with prostitutes. Moral of the story: Life
Roger Almendarez-jiménez
Mar 02, 2016 Roger Almendarez-jiménez rated it really liked it
I ran across this title in Anne Rice's "The Wolf Gift." I was under the impression that this book was about to werewolves, but it is not. The main character suffers from bouts of "lycanthropy," acting like a wolf a few times in the book, but he is not a werewolf. That being said, this is a good tale about the ills of modernity and metropolitanism (in San Francisco) at the turn of the 20th century (late 1800s). Basically, this is a tale of how a privileged young man squanders his inheritance afte ...more
Feb 10, 2009 Kim rated it it was ok
I used this book in my naturalism course to discuss the brute figure in Norris' fiction. It does not show Norris' true strength as a writer-- that is probably why it was published posthumously.
Apr 21, 2016 Briana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Vandover and the Brute has an interesting publication history.  It was considered too scandalous to be published in the late 1800s but today often just gets pegged as "historically significant" (Dana Seitler).  So which is it: fascinatingly salacious or academically of interest?

Personally, I think Vandover is likely to appeal to more academic readers than to those looking for an entertaining read. The novel touches on a number of themes common to naturalist writing; it's quite a treasure trove f
Nov 27, 2007 Olivia rated it liked it
not as good as mcteague in terms of impact, but often engrossing. descriptions of 1890's san francisco bar-hopping (oyster bars with snake pits) as these upper class young male elite of sf (one of the characters is named geary) partake in drugs and alcohol and loose women, drawn to a life they ultimately consider beneath them. again, full of flawed, not quite likeable characters. i was amused by a discussion these elite college grads have about obligations to women after teh seduction is over. e ...more
Jim Leckband
Oct 26, 2011 Jim Leckband rated it it was ok
The naturalists certainly didn't have a Pollyanna view. Do not read these books of which Vandover is a prime example if you are feeling down as I think you might feel too drawn to the downward spiral.

(view spoiler)
Feb 08, 2015 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this first Norris novel on a whim, and I'm glad I did. My recent experience with a turn of the century author, and I'm talking about you Henry James, was not an experience I relished. It was overly flowery -- too over-descriptive and over-melodramatic, and I stereotype writing from the era in that way. Norris writes very cleanly in comparison. I found the book much easier to read and enjoy. This is the story of the downward spiral of a wealthy Harvard grad in San Francisco in the 188 ...more
Chuck Bradley
May 31, 2013 Chuck Bradley rated it really liked it
I saw Poe's fatalistic influences without the floral flourishes. Although it was written a century ago I can see it as a parablistic warning to American society today. Thought its ending was a little weak and anticlimactic. I liked it well enough that his other novels and essays are on my “to read someday” list.
Sep 07, 2007 Kristin rated it it was amazing
Almost as good as McTeague. Norris rulez.
Chris Schaffer
Oct 21, 2014 Chris Schaffer rated it liked it
Shelves: naturalism
Glad I finally read Frank Norris.
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Benjamin Franklin Norris, Jr. was an American novelist, during the Progressive Era, writing predominantly in the naturalist genre. His notable works include McTeague (1899), The Octopus: A California Story (1901), and The Pit (1903). Although he did not openly support socialism as a political system, his work nevertheless evinces a socialist mentality and influenced socialist/progressive writers s ...more
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