The Pit: A Story of Chicago. (Book Reviews)
Bareither, John, Modern Trader
By Frank Norris
Doubleday, Page & Co.
New York (1903)
This month marks the 100th anniversary of this great American novel, still available in bookstores and libraries.
Benjamin Franklin Norris Jr. was born to wealthy parents in Chicago in 1870, later moving to San Francisco in 1884. While a student at the University of California, Berkeley, his penchant for art and writing became apparent. Norris' greatest literary influence was the French literary naturalist Emile Zola.
Norris conceived the idea of writing a trilogy about a single subject -- wheat, its production, distribution and consumption -- while There are s from malaria he contracted covering the Spanish-American War in Cuba in 1898. The first novel, The Octopus, deals with the battle between wheat growers and the railroad trust. The second, The Pit, is the story of a wheat "corner" in the Chicago wheat pit. The third, The Wolf, would have been about famine-stricken Europe, but Norris was unable to begin its composition before he died in 1902.
The Pit follows commodity trader Curtis Jadwin who focuses his attention on cornering the wheat market. The demise of his wealth and career results from the market moving against him.
The most memorable part of the book is Norris' description of the day-to-day activity on the trading floor. …