In this powerful book we enter the world of Jurgis Rudkus, a young Lithuanian immigrant who arrives in America fired with dreams of wealth, freedom, and opportunity. And we discover, with him, the astonishing truth about "packingtown," the busy, flourishing, filthy Chicago stockyards, where new world visions perish in a jungle of human suffering. Upton Sinclair, master of the "muckraking" novel, here explores the workingman's lot at the turn of the century: the backbreaking labor, the injustices of "wage-slavery," the bewildering chaos of urban life. The Jungle, a story so shocking that it launched a government investigation, recreates this startling chapter if our history in unflinching detail. Always a vigorous champion on political reform, Sinclair is also a gripping storyteller, and his 1906 novel stands as one of the most important -- and moving -- works in the literature of social change.
“Practically alone among the American writers of his generation,” wrote Edmund Wilson, “[Sinclair] put to the American public the fundamental questions raised by capitalism in such a way that they could not escape them.” When it was first published in 1906, The Jungle exposed the inhumane conditions of Chicago’s stockyards and the laborer’s struggle against industry and “wage slavery.” It was an immediate bestseller and led to new regulations that forever changed workers’ rights and the meatpacking industry. A direct descendant of Dickens’s Hard Times, it remains the most influential workingman’s novel in American literature.
Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) was born in Baltimore. At age fifteen, he began writing a series of dime novels in order to pay for his education at the City College of New York. He was later accepted to do graduate work at Columbia, and while there he published a number of novels, including The Journal of Arthur Stirling (1903) and Manassas (1904). Sinclairs breakthrough came in 1906 with the publication of The Jungle, a scathing indictment of the Chicago meat-packing industry. His later works include Worlds End (1940), Dragons Teeth (1942), which won him a Pulitzer Prize, O Shepherd, Speak! (1949) and Another Pamela (1950).
Ronald Gottesman was born in Boston and earned degrees from the University of Massachusetts and from Colgate and Indiana universities. He has taught literature, film studies, and humanities courses at Northwestern, Indiana, and Rutgers universities, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Southern California, where for nine years he directed the Center for the Humanities. Founding editor of the Quarterly Review of Film Studies and Humanities in Society, Professor Gottesman is editor and author of many articles and books on literature and film, including three on Upton Sinclair. He is currently completing a Ph.D. in psychoanalysis.
“When people ask me what has happened in my long lifetime I do not refer them to the newspaper files and to the authorities, but to [Sinclair’s] novels.” —George Bernard Shaw
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