I wrote with tears and anguish, pouring into the pages all that pain which life had meant to me. Externally the story had to do with a family of stockyard workers, but internally it was the story of my own family.
Cynics, as is their wont, quickly pointed out how much easier it was for Mrs Atherton at forty-seven, the widow of a wealthy and socially prominent San Francisco landowner, to preach such austere integrity than it was for young writers like Upton Sinclair and Jack London, who had to support themselves by their writing.
But Mrs Atherton had a splendid case to make, and her analysis of American culture at the turn of the century echoed by Martin Eden: In her opinion, the magazines of the day rejected originality in the subject-matter of the stories they printed, and wanted only acceptable subjects treated in conventional ways.
They allowed only a censored view of human nature which, among other things, excluded adult sexuality.
Their ideal story was one which would not disturb those with delicate nerves. The American bourgeoisie was basically responsible for this situation: These were the sorts of books the editors wanted.
Sinclair was then twenty-six, and had published four undistinguished novels. The bourgeois, he wrote, is well fed himself, his wife is stout, and his children are fine and vigorous.
He lives in a big house, and wears the latest thing in clothes; his civilization furnishes these to everyone—at least to everyone who amounts to anything; and beyond that he understands nothing—save only the desire to be entertained. It is for entertainment that he buys books, and as entertainment that he regards them; and hence another characteristic of the bourgeois literature is its lack of seriousness.
The bourgeois writer has a certain kind of seriousness, of course—the seriousness of a hungry man seeking his dinner; but the seriousness of the artist he does not know. He will roar you as gently as any suckling dove, he will also wring tears from your eyes or thrill you with terror, according as the fashion of the hour suggests; but he knows exactly why he does these things, and he can do them between chats at his club.
If you expected him to act like his heroes, he would think that you were mad. In Europe there was a substantial socialist literature though the figures mentioned by Sinclair were in most cases not socialists at all: Where Mrs Atherton blamed bourgeois timidity, Sinclair argued that Americans have a capitalist culture, obedient to the interests of capital.
The very idea that great art, or a high civilization, could be nourished by an unjust and exploitative society, brings forth from him a moral cry of indignation. Sinclair was an idealist in matters of culture.
The arts belonged to a higher and purer realm of human endeavour than money-grubbing capitalism; but a corrupt society dragged down its highest impulses and cultural ideals: There was little in his background to suggest the likelihood of such a conversion: Sinclair describes his mother as a long-suffering, puritanical woman who scrupulously avoided artificial stimulants like coffee, tea or alcohol.
Brewers and saloon-keepers were the source of unmitigated evil to the young Sinclair, but while at City College he was exposed to other kinds of corruption: I can remember speculating at the age of sixteen whether it could be true that women did actually sell their bodies.
I decided in the negative and held to that idea until I summoned the courage to question one of my classmates in college.
The truth, finally made clear, shocked me deeply, and played a great part in the making of my political revolt. Between the ages of sixteen and twenty I explored the situation in New York, and made discoveries that for me were epoch-making.
The saloonkeeper, who had been the villain of my childhood melodrama, was merely a tool and victim of the big liquor interests and politicians and police. The twin bases of the political power of Tammany Hall were saloon graft and the sale of women.Biography: Upton Sinclair Upton Beall Sinclair, Jr.
(September 20, – November 25, ) was an American author who wrote nearly books and other works across a number of genres.
Sinclair’s work was well-known and popular in the first half of the twentieth century, and he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in Best American writer of all time because of his beautiful prose and experimental writing. Love him or hate him, in regards to literature, there are few who have contributed as much as him.
JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources. Upton Sinclair: Upton Sinclair, prolific American novelist and polemicist who wrote the classic muckraking novel The Jungle.
The Role of Upton Sinclair The Jungle in the early 20th Century. Exposing Faults in Chicago’s Meatpacking plants. Jan Cooney. Focus/Summary. This lesson, intended for high school American Literature or United States History students, will help.
Main Article Primary Sources (1) In American Outpost, Upton Sinclair explained the writing of his first successful novel, The Jungle.. I wrote with tears and anguish, pouring into the pages all that pain which life had meant to me.
Externally the story had to do with a family of stockyard workers, but internally it was the story of my own family.