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Sinclair, Upton


Subject Literature » American Literature

Key-Topics industrialization, naturalism, Second World War

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405192446.2011.x


Most Americans know Upton Sinclair simply as the author of The Jungle ( 1906 ), the astonishing novel that rocked the beginning of the twentieth century with its expose of poisoned meat. But in Oil! ( 1927 ), Sinclair also described the transformation of the California landscape following the building of automobile highways. His play Singing Jailbirds ( 1924b ) drew attention to the plight of striking longshoremen in San Pedro, California. The World's End (1949) series gained him admirers from Britain to Japan to Germany, who found in it their first taste of what one called “story history.” With this series, Sinclair completed the circle he had begun when he went into the stockyards in 1905 to examine how cattle were slaughtered. Born in 1878 in Baltimore, Upton Sinclair survived his father's alcoholism and his mother's poverty. He grabbed what crumbs of education were available to him, and searched for the source of the injustice that doomed his own household and the lives that surrounded it. In the process, he discovered first poetry, then religion, then socialism. Sinclair went to Battle Creek, Michigan, to find health with cereal inventor William Kellogg, where he met and courted Mary Craig, who would remain his wife and best friend until she died in 1961. Along with Jack London, he founded the Intercollegiate Socialist Society in 1905. By 1913 he had discovered the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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