Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Review of McTeague

I have a whole host of reviews lined up for you guys, and seen as I've actually done all my seminar reading for this week (for about the first time in, well, ever! Only took until final year ...) I'll be hopefully able to post a bit more often. Anyway, this book wasn't something I would necessarily have picked up off of the shelf myself. Written by Frank Norris and published in 1899, it holds an alarming number of ugly truths for our modern world. If you're looking for something that really investigates how human relationships are now interceded by money, gold and the trappings of wealth, this is your go-to. Plus, despite being written over a century ago, it's remarkably easy to read.

McTeague, a brute of a man, is a dentist who lives in his own dentist parlours. His large size and simple nature means that he rarely gets desirable clientele, that is, until his best friend Marcus brings his cousin Trina to the dentist's chair. Soon he comes to admire her, where before he could only admire his small collection of trinkets. However, is it even possible for this bear of a man to really "love" another being?

In the world of this book, everything relates to money and gold. you come to realise that all characters are in fact bound by the world of commodification and exchange - to the extent that other people almost become money in terms of their relationship to a person. Aside from this, which arguably questions our modern emphasis on owning things and valuing them in their commodified state, gender and sex are key issues in the text. Trina simultaneously fears McTeague, yet her desire for him increases as her fear of his power over her does. This engages with a sadist/masochist dialogue which permeates the entire text, albeit discreetly.

Have you read it? What did you think?


No comments:

Post a Comment