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.
As Ronald Gottesman points out in his discerning introduction, Upton Sinclair was a passionate believer in the redemption of mankind through social reform. His exposé of the interlocking corruption in American corporate and politcal life was a major literary event when it was publisehd in 1906, and caused an almost immediate reform in pure-food liegislation.
“Practically alone among the American writers of his generation, [Sinclair] put to the American public the fundamental questions raised by capitalism in such a way that they could not escape them.” —Edmund Wilson
About the Author
Upton Sinclair was born in Baltimore in 1878. He enrolled at the College of the City of New York before his fourteenth birthday and began supporting himself through his writing only a few years later. A lifelong socialist, Sinclair ran for governor of California in 1934. His novel Dragon’s Teeth won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1943. He died in Bound Brook, New Jersey, in 1968.