Frank Norris's "McTeague" and popular culture

Ruby M Fowler, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Popular culture consists of the events and artifacts of which everyday life is composed. In McTeague: A Story of San Francisco, the popular culture of 1890's working class San Franciscans is reported by Frank Norris with scrupulous accuracy. In twentieth century versions of McTeague, popular culture continues to be employed in innovative ways. Erich von Stroheim in Greed expands on Norris's use of popular culture in an attempt to create on film a mirror reflection of life. In the opera McTeague, William Bolcom and Robert Altman combine popular culture with elite culture in unconventional ways to bring the story to the musical stage. Finally, on television, in The Real McTeague, unconventional techniques are employed by Robert Altman to tell a multimedia tale with a moral.