The Jungle eText - eText

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What is a literary classic and why are these classic works important to the world?

A literary classic is a work of the highest excellence that has something important to say about life and/or the human condition and says it with great artistry. A classic, through its enduring presence, has with stood the test of time and is not bound by time, place, or customs. It speaks to us today as forcefully as it spoke to people one hundred or more years ago, and as forcefully as it will speak to people of future generations. For this reason, a classic is said to have universality.

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) was born in Baltimore, Maryland. At age ten, he moved to New York City, where, at age fourteen, he attended City College. Sinclair supported himself through journalism and pulp fiction writing, while continuing his education with graduate work at Columbia University.

Sinclair's socialist convictions led him to write The Jungle (1906), his sixth novel and first successful work. With part of his profits, he founded a Socialist cooperative in Englewood, New Jersey. In 1915, Sinclair moved to California, where he began End Poverty In California, a socialist reform movement.

Sinclair's passion for socialism is apparent in his abundant written material, which includes books, pamphlets, plays, articles, and speeches on social conditions and reform. Some of his works include King Coal (1917), about a Colorado miners' strike; Oil! (1927), about the corruption of southern California society; and the Lanny Budd series, a Marxist analysis of the years between the two world wars, which includes World's End (1940), Between Two Worlds (1941), and Dragon's Teeth (1942),

In 1943, he received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for Dragon's Teeth, an anti-fascist novel on Nazi Germany. By the time of his death in 1968, Sinclair had published ninety books in forth-seven languages and thirty-nine countries; however, The Jungle is his most powerful and most influential book.