Just Wanna Know

Revolutionary Propaganda Organ

Saturday, June 03, 2006

100 Years of Jungle

"The only part of the pig they don't use here is the squeal."

You read weird things when you're trying to distract yourself from Moroccan pop culture overload... But The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is a classic. So I figured, why not?

It's a wonderful book, and exactly 100 years old this year. You can read it online here.

You may have heard that the story has something vaguely to do with the beef industry and unsanitary conditions. And it does document absolutely disgusting food-preparation practices. In fact, it led directly to the establishment of the Food and Drug Administration.

What doesn't get taught in schools, though, is the fact that, while The Jungle is a very compellingly written novel, it also contains a fully rendered analysis of free market capitalism. Yes, Sinclair was a socialist, and he wrote the novel to show how workers were being exploited by the bosses. In fact, the "disgusting" parts take up only the first third of the book, while the rest shows the depths to which wage slavery will bring otherwise decent, ordinary folk.

So go read The Jungle for the first time, or read it again!


At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Barbara said...

I can remember the book being formative for me in high school (though some would probably say not formative enough). Your pop culture studies take you in all directions, don't they? Or doesn't your blog reflect your direct research?

At 9:24 AM, Blogger John Schaefer said...

High school? Kind of advanced of a book for high school, I would think...

My blog is strictly the public face of my persona. I don't really publish much directly about my ethnographic research here because it needs to soak in my brain for a bit. Also a lot of what will become public will have to be negotiated among me and my various consultants, and it's just too early for that, I'm still learning what's going on...

At 8:33 PM, Anonymous Barbara said...

I'll bet it is interesting stuff though :)

At 7:05 AM, Blogger John Schaefer said...

Well, I think it's the most important thing in the world. The task is to convince my readers of that too... :)


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