Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion's Reviews > The Jungle

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
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it was amazing
bookshelves: united-states

What a disservice that this book is mostly read and remembered as a mere historical reference and expose on socialism and the meat-packing industry! The final four chapters which lapse into doctrine, preaching, and recruitment don't help any in casting off the label, but otherwise the book goes well beyond the Socialist politics which motivated Sinclair to write it. The first three hundred pages focus on hardened descriptions of the physical and emotional tragedy of working class immigrants losing everything in the face of overwhelming economic adversity. While the book can also be criticized for its somewhat higgeldy-piggeldy and hodgepodge organization, as well as forgetting that readers and characters need to breathe (non-toxic air) on occasion or eat a pickle (not tainted with formaldehyde) once in a fortnight (without frostbite), the heavy force of constant tragedy never lets up and who can dispute its power or basis in reality? To read Sinclair's lucid, almost poetic, description of the slaughterhouses in Chapter 3, or the lard-producing toxic creek, hush money for tubucular steers, and embalmed beef productions of Chapter 9, makes Dickens' melodramatic bugger tales and Zola's impecunious driftwood seem like lullabyes.

There is no consumption without blood, but ironically those who feign the greatest fear of blood often consume the most. Who wants to get their diamond ring dirty or imagine where it came from? As such, The Jungle would be particularly excellent reading when stuck between the cell phone calls of mall shoppers on their way to get their Zoloft prescription filled. At least they won't be eating vienna sausages or potted ham.
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Reading Progress

June 19, 2009 – Shelved
Started Reading
August 21, 2009 – Finished Reading
September 13, 2009 – Shelved as: united-states

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins Some good sheee-it Tim. We should watch Franju's short documentary The Blood of the Beasts sometime - a portrait of Parisian slaughterhouses in the 1950's. It's horrifying. I have a copy but haven't been able to watch it a second time.


Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion God help us, bring it on/over!!! (I'll invite Andy Reid over to deliver the biscuits.)


message 3: by Eddie (last edited Aug 22, 2009 11:32AM) (new)

Eddie Watkins Great! I'll bring my Brakhage autopsy film too and with our mouths full of Andy Reid's biscuits we could watch Michael Vick electrocute Cole Hamels for lacking that fighting spirit.


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