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McTeague (English Edition) Formato Kindle
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By modern standards the story is slow to develop, the characters do not have much depth and the language is stilted. Nevertheless, if you can stick with it the story is a snapshot of middle-class life in San Francisco at the end of the nineteenth century. It is a morality tale about the evils of greed, jealousy and vengeance. There is nothing new here, but it is interesting to see how these characters play out their roles in the low tech world of the 1890's.
When this was written it would have been a story of contemporary life rather than a quaint costume drama. I felt like it provided awindow into the world as it existed when my grandparents were teenagers. I am glad I read it.
Here is one of my favorite scenes. For the character insights melded with cultural observation and natural constraints on the species homo sapiens, shot into steps of action. No spoilers -- don't worry about that here:
"Not Stanley penetrating for the first time into the Dark Continent, not Napoleon leading his army across the Alps, was more weighted with responsibility, more burdened with care, more overcome with the sense of the importance of his undertaking, than was Mr. Sieppe during this period of preparation. From dawn to dark, from dark to early dawn, he toiled and planned and fretted, organizing and reorganizing, projecting and devising. The trunks were lettered, A, B, and C, the packages and smaller bundles numbered. Each member of the family had his especial duty to perform, his particular bundles to oversee. Not a detail was forgotten-- fares, prices, and tips were calculated to two places of decimals. Even the amount of food that it would be necessary to carry for the black greyhound was determined. Mrs. Sieppe was to look after the lunch, "der gomisariat." Mr. Sieppe would assume charge of the checks, the money, the tickets, and, of course, general supervision. The twins would be under the command of Owgooste, who, in turn, would report for orders to his father.
"Day in and day out these minutiae were rehearsed. The children were drilled in their parts with a military exactitude; obedience and punctuality became cardinal virtues. The vast importance of the undertaking was insisted upon with scrupulous iteration. It was a manoeuvre, an army changing its base of operations, a veritable tribal migration.
"On the other hand, Trina's little room was the centre around which revolved another and different order of things. The dressmaker came and went, congratulatory visitors invaded the little front parlor, the chatter of unfamiliar voices resounded from the front steps; bonnet-boxes and yards of dress-goods littered the beds and chairs; wrapping paper, tissue paper, and bits of string strewed the floor; a pair of white satin slippers stood on a corner of the toilet table; lengths of white veiling, like a snow-flurry, buried the little work-table; and a mislaid box of artificial orange blossoms was finally discovered behind the bureau.
"The two systems of operation often clashed and tangled. Mrs. Sieppe was found by her harassed husband helping Trina with the waist of her gown when she should have been slicing cold chicken in the kitchen. Mr. Sieppe packed his frock coat, which he would have to wear at the wedding, at the very bottom of "Trunk C." The minister, who called to offer his congratulations and to make arrangements, was mistaken for the expressman." (pp. 78-79)
The story focuses on a dentist, his marriage, and their immediate community (friends, family, and neighbors). The main character is dim-witted and not one to think through words or actions. His friend is self-righteous, his wife is jealous, and each is on a path to self-destruction.
Word of warning: There aren't really any admirable characters. There's a fair amount of violence and abuse, and one Jewish character is portrayed as greedy and money-hungry. (This may be why the book isn't more widely read today.)
Despite its flaws, McTeague was an enjoyable read,