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"a strange and ecstatic pleasure": The Voyeurism of the Naturalist's Gaze in Frank Norris's Vandover and the Brute and McTeague

"a strange and ecstatic pleasure": The Voyeurism of the Naturalist's Gaze in Frank Norris's... "a strange and ecstatic pleasure" The Voyeurism of the Naturalist's Gaze in Frank Norris's Vandover and the Brute and McTeague , University of Washington In perhaps the most prurient scene in Frank Norris's most provocative novel, McTeague: A Story of San Francisco (1899), the miserliness of Mrs. Trina McTeague turns decidedly salacious: "One evening she had even spread all the gold pieces between the sheets, and had then gone to bed, stripping herself, and had slept all night upon the money, taking a strange and ecstatic pleasure in the touch of the smooth flat pieces the length of her entire body" (201­2). By this point in the novel the escalation of mere stinginess to the wholly scandalous feels almost inevitable, but Norris's decision to transform Trina's seemingly straightforward greed into "ecstatic pleasure" as she lies naked on her gold coins appears to be a calculated choice, one designed to titillate the reader as much as detachedly chronicle her disease. And readers are left peering in, observing a sight clearly not meant for our eyes. And yet for whom does Trina strip and roll naked in gold coins if not for us, the reader? A unified "us" of readers http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in American Naturalism University of Nebraska Press

"a strange and ecstatic pleasure": The Voyeurism of the Naturalist's Gaze in Frank Norris's Vandover and the Brute and McTeague

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Nebraska Press
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1944-6519
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Abstract

"a strange and ecstatic pleasure" The Voyeurism of the Naturalist's Gaze in Frank Norris's Vandover and the Brute and McTeague , University of Washington In perhaps the most prurient scene in Frank Norris's most provocative novel, McTeague: A Story of San Francisco (1899), the miserliness of Mrs. Trina McTeague turns decidedly salacious: "One evening she had even spread all the gold pieces between the sheets, and had then gone to bed, stripping herself, and had slept all night upon the money, taking a strange and ecstatic pleasure in the touch of the smooth flat pieces the length of her entire body" (201­2). By this point in the novel the escalation of mere stinginess to the wholly scandalous feels almost inevitable, but Norris's decision to transform Trina's seemingly straightforward greed into "ecstatic pleasure" as she lies naked on her gold coins appears to be a calculated choice, one designed to titillate the reader as much as detachedly chronicle her disease. And readers are left peering in, observing a sight clearly not meant for our eyes. And yet for whom does Trina strip and roll naked in gold coins if not for us, the reader? A unified "us" of readers

Journal

Studies in American NaturalismUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Feb 24, 2011

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