The Pit is Frank Norris’ dark study of the Chicago Board of Trade and the ruinous effect of its price speculation on the public, the wheat farmers and the traders themselves. It is the masterful narrative of dealings in the Chicago wheat pit, the social existence surrounding it, and the unrestricted speculation that rode rampant.
Published posthumously in 1903, Frank Norris’ last novel became an instant success. The Pit went through five editions in the first year alone.
The book’s critical reception was equally impressive: reviewed in all the major newspapers and magazines, The Pit was not merely compared to the best of Emile Zola’s works, but hailed as “The Real American Novel.”
The Pit resonates with power, and holds the reader from beginning to end. As a literary achievement it stands as one of Frank Norris' greatest works and one of the acknowledged masterworks of American literary naturalism.
FRANK NORRIS (1870-1902) was an American novelist and journalist and a leader of the Naturalism movement. He believed that a novel should serve a moral purpose. "The novel with a purpose," he explained, "brings the tragedies and griefs of others to notice" and "prove(s) that injustice, crime, and inequality do exist." Norris's affinity for exposing the "whole truth, and nothing but," found a broader scope than this. To the best kind of modern literature, "belongs the wide world for range, and the unplumbed depths of the human heart, and the mystery of sex, and the problems of life, and the black, unsearched penetralia of the soul of man." Norris died of peritonitis following acute appendicitis. He was thirty-two years old.
"Kind, considerate, loyal to his friends, and devoid of the egotism that some may associate with the personalities of artistes, Frank Norris appears to have modeled human nature at its best."
—Victor Davis Hanson