The Jungle
May 24, 2020 11:20 AM - by Sinclair, Upton - Subscribe

The Jungle, novel by Upton Sinclair, published serially in 1905 and as a single-volume book in 1906. The most famous, influential, and enduring of all muckraking novels, The Jungle was an exposé of conditions in the Chicago stockyards. Because of the public response, the U.S. Pure Food and Drug Act was passed in 1906, and conditions in American slaughterhouses were improved.
posted by aniola (5 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I remember being very moved by this when I read it, and saddened that labour reforms were borne more from (consumer's) selfishness of avoiding "tuberculoid beef" rather than solidarity with the workers' horrible conditions.

I still see a lot of exploitation and "hurry up" in my own company and it grieves me that there's nothing I can do about it other than quit. The most egregious are people who worked in the technician positions and for whatever reason made it into management and now work twice as hard to keep the technicians down and too stressed out to "fight back," drawing the ladder up with them.
posted by porpoise at 1:14 PM on May 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

As literature, it's not well written. The characters are cardboard pieces, obviously being pushed around by the author who is attempting to tug on every heartstring. Still, it makes for absolutely compelling reading. It found a much wider audience as fiction than it would have as nonfiction. As horrifying as our factory-farming industrial food system is now, it was rigged even worse then. Industry has learned from the experience, though. Outrage is so common now it's a case of dog bites man. Why report on how awful corporations are when everyone expects them to be?
posted by rikschell at 1:40 PM on May 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

The public attention was mostly focused on the food purity stuff, but I believe Sinclair's interest was at least as much about the living and working conditions of the employees.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:46 PM on May 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Sinclair famously said of the novel’s impact, “I aimed for the nation’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”
posted by lilac girl at 9:58 PM on May 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

Sinclair famously said of the novel’s impact, “I aimed for the nation’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”

I'm reminded of the reaction to Fast Food Nation, where almost half of the book was about working conditions: "They move the line too fast" was a refrain throughout, but the popular reaction was, "ew, gross."
posted by pykrete jungle at 8:53 AM on May 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

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