McTeague

McTeague, a Story of San Francisco, es una novela de Frank Norris, publicada por primera vez en 1899. McTeague cuenta la historia de una pareja y su descenso a la pobreza, violencia y asesinato como consecuencia de los celos y la ambición.

It was Sunday, and, according to his custom on that day, McTeague took his dinner at two in the afternoon at the car conductors' coffee-joint on Polk Street. He had a thick gray soup; heavy, underdone meat, very hot, on a cold plate; two kinds of vegetables; and a sort of suet pudding, full of strong butter and sugar. On his way back to his office, one block above, he stopped at Joe Frenna's saloon and bought a pitcher of steam beer. It was his habit to leave the pitcher there on his way to dinner.
Once in his office, or, as he called it on his signboard, "Dental Parlors," he took off his coat and shoes, unbuttoned his vest, and, having crammed his little stove full of coke, lay back in his operating chair at the bay window, reading the paper, drinking his beer, and smoking his huge porcelain pipe while his food digested; crop-full, stupid, and warm. By and by, filled with steam beer, and overcome by the heat of the room, the cheap tobacco, and the effects of his heavy meal, he dropped off to sleep. Late in the afternoon his canary bird, in its gilt cage just over his head, began to sing. He woke slowly, finished the rest of his beer—very flat and tasteless by this time—and taking down his concertina from the bookcase, where in week days it kept the company of seven volumes of "Allen's Practical Dentist," played upon it some half-dozen very mournful airs.

McTeague looked forward to these Sunday afternoons as a period of relaxation and enjoyment. He invariably spent them in the same fashion. These were his only pleasures—to eat, to smoke, to sleep, and to play upon his concertina.
The six lugubrious airs that he knew, always carried him back to the time when he was a car-boy at the Big Dipper Mine in Placer County, ten years before. He remembered the years he had spent there moving the heavy cars of ore in and out of the tunnel under the direction of his father. For thirteen days of each fortnight his father was a steady, hard-working shift-boss of the mine. Every other Sunday he became an irresponsible animal, a beast, a brute, crazy with alcohol.
McTeague remembered his mother, too, who, with the help of the Chinaman, cooked for forty miners. She was an overworked slave, fiery and energetic for all that, filled with the one idea of having her son rise in life and enter a profession. The chance had come at last when the father died, corroded with alcohol, collapsing in a few hours. Two or three years later a travelling dentist visited the mine and put up his tent near the bunk-house. He was more or less of a charlatan, but he fired Mrs. McTeague's ambition, and young McTeague went away with him to learn his profession. He had learnt it after a fashion, mostly by watching the charlatan operate. He had read many of the necessary books, but he was too hopelessly stupid to get much benefit from them.
Then one day at San Francisco had come the news of his mother's death; she had left him some money—not much, but enough to set him up in business; so he had cut loose from the charlatan and had opened his "Dental Parlors" on Polk Street, an "accommodation street" of small shops in the residence quarter of the town. Here he had slowly collected a clientele of butcher boys, shop girls, drug clerks, and car conductors. He made but few acquaintances. Polk Street called him the "Doctor" and spoke of his enormous strength. For McTeague was a young giant, carrying his huge shock of blond hair six feet three inches from the ground; moving his immense limbs, heavy with ropes of muscle, slowly, ponderously. His hands were enormous, red, and covered with a membrane of stiff yellow hair; they were hard as wooden hammers, strong as vises, the hands of the old-time car-boy. Often he dispensed with forceps and extracted a refractory tooth with his thumb and finger. His head was square-cut, angular; the jaw salient, like that of the carnivora.
McTeague's mind was as his body, heavy, slow to act, sluggish. Yet there was nothing vicious about the man. Altogether he suggested the draught horse, immensely strong, stupid, docile, obedient.
When he opened his "Dental Parlors," he felt that his life was a success, that he could hope for nothing better. In spite of the name, there was but one room. It was a corner room on the second floor over the branch post-office, and faced the street. McTeague made it do for a bedroom as well, sleeping on the big bed-lounge against the wall opposite the window. There was a washstand behind the screen in the corner where he manufactured his moulds. In the round bay window were his operating chair, his dental engine, and the movable rack on which he laid out his instruments. Three chairs, a bargain at the second-hand store, ranged themselves against the wall with military precision underneath a steel engraving of the court of Lorenzo de' Medici, which he had bought because there were a great many figures in it for the money. Over the bed-lounge hung a rifle manufacturer's advertisement calendar which he never used. The other ornaments were a small marble-topped centre table covered with back numbers of "The American System of Dentistry," a stone pug dog sitting before the little stove, and a thermometer. A stand of shelves occupied one corner, filled with the seven volumes of "Allen's Practical Dentist." On the top shelf McTeague kept his concertina and a bag of bird seed for the canary. The whole place exhaled a mingled odor of bedding, creosote, and ether… (Paragraphs from Chapter 1, McTeague, by Frank Norris)
concertina
Concertina

Para saber
Polk Street is a street in San Francisco, California, that travels northward from Market Street to Beach Street and is one of the main thoroughfares of the Polk Gulch neighborhood traversing through the Tenderloin, Nob Hill, and Russian Hill neighborhoods.
A suet pudding is a boiled, steamed or microwaved pudding made with suet (beef or mutton fat), flour, bread crumbs, raisins, and spices. The suet pudding dates back to at least the start of the 18th century.
In US English, a pitcher is a container with a spout used for storing and pouring contents which are liquid in form. In English speaking countries outside North America, a jug is any container with a handle and a mouth and spout for liquid—American "pitchers" are more likely to be called jugs elsewhere. Generally a pitcher also has a handle, which makes pouring easier.
Steam beer is a highly effervescent beer made by brewing lager yeasts at warmer fermentation temperatures. Historic steam beer, associated with San Francisco and the U.S. West Coast, was brewed with lager yeast without the use of true refrigeration (by ice or mechanical means). It was an improvised process, originating out of necessity, perhaps as early as the Gold Rush and at least 1860 in Nevada.
A draft horse (US), draught horse (UK) or dray horse, less often called a work horse or heavy horse, is a large horse bred for hard, heavy tasks such as ploughing and farm labor.
The pug is a toy dog with a wrinkly, short-muzzled face and curled tail.
Vocabulario
Crop-full: : having a full crop or stomach.
Bunk-house: a building providing sleeping quarters on a ranch or in a camp.
Vise: a holding device attached to a workbench; has two jaws to hold workpiece firmly in place.
De la web
McTeague, para leer la historia en internet.
Homestead, Miners´ Working conditions. Horribles condiciones de trabajo de los mineros.
Alex Bevk, Frank Norris Street and the Dentist of Polk Street, Curbed, January 14, 2013


Otra historia de pobreza y mineros: Sons and Lovers, de DH Lawrence