Upton From Sinclair

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Widely studied in institutions of higher and lower learning, Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle is commonly presented as a first-hand representation of turn-of-the-century (19 to 20) urban life. Go to USA.gov, type in his name in the search engine, and see how many school districts show up in use of his opus.

Yet and still, can you trust the fiction of a man who proved himself to be so factually, if not ethically, challenged? “Many of those who later became useful stooges of the party went through their own baptism of mud at the hands of the comrades,” Eugene Lyons wrote in The Red Decade. “In 1934 a New Masses cartoon showed Upton Sinclair as an insect on the boot of a capitalist marching straight for fascism.”

“He expiated his sins when he joined the Popular Front of know-nothing defense of the Stalinist terror and thus won immunity. The apex of his glory as a Muscovite megaphone was reached when he spoke by direct wire from Pasadena, California, to a mass meeting in New York in fervid approval of Stalin’s ‘liquidation.’ of the Old Bolsheviks.”

“He certainly did travel far since the days of The Jungle, since human slaughter could leave him so beautifully untouched.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org