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Vandover and the Brute

Frank Norris

Book Overview: 

Vandover is a student who succumbs to a gambling addiction. This addiction causes him to divest himself of his cherished possessions and to lose his status in life, whilst his friends prosper. Eventually he is transformed by a strange degenerative lycanthropy, reduced to running back and forth across his apartment, naked, on all-fours. The novel was Norris' first, though published posthumously. Characteristically, it explores the themes of habit and addiction in a heightened "naturalistic" style.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The others began to laugh. "Flossie did that," Vandover explained to Toby. Ellis was hastily looking through his pockets, fumbling about among his little books.

"I had something here," he kept muttering, "if I can only find it, that told just what to do when you cut yourself with glass. There may be glass in it, you know."

"Oh, that's all right, that's all right," exclaimed young Haight, now altogether disconcerted. "It don't amount to anything."

"I tell you what," observed Geary; "get some court-plaster at the snake doctor's just above here."

"No, no, that's all right," returned young Haight, moving off. "Good night. I'll see you again pretty soon."

He went away. Ellis, who was still searching through his little books, suddenly uttered an exclamation. He leaned out into the passage, crying: "The half of a hot onion; tie it right on the cut." But Haight had already gone. "You see," explained Ellis, "that draws out any little . . . Read More

Community Reviews

I’m in awe that Norris wrote this novel at the age of 24, as it contains the world-weary wisdom of a novelist twice his age, even as it has the shock value that can only come from a younger writer. The content isn’t anything more sensational than might be found in Zola, Maupassant, or Ibsen, but lea

Truly unsettling.

Comme souvent chez Norris, on reste éberlué devant de nombreux passages qui ont mal vieilli, teintés d'antisémitisme et de misogynie, mais on reste aussi estomaqué devant la puissance évocatrice de certaines scènes marquantes. Le naufrage d'un bateau et les conséquences tragiques sur l'humanité du p

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

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 th

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