Monday, September 20, 2010

In Memoriam: Upton Sinclair

Shit disturbers, malcontents, muckrakers... I love 'em all.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketUpton Sinclair was all of these and more, with one crucial difference: he didn't just do it for kicks, but in aid of a cause.

Okay, so the cause he aided wasn't always the cause he set out to aid; he wrote The Jungle, his legendary 1906 novel set in the Chicago stockyards to highlight the drudgery of urban poverty and instead brought about legislation aimed at cleaning up the food supply. 'I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach,' he said, a little too ruefully, following its publication.

Still, if you're going to miss one target it helps to be fortunate enough to hit another, even bigger, one. After all, people are conditioned to ignore their hearts, but few can treat their stomachs the same.

So while Upton Sinclair's political career can only be described as an utter fiasco, his literary career is without equal, frequently achieving through art what he could not hope to do through politics. Sometimes wordy, often hyperbolic, but always passionate, his novels delivered socialist rhetoric into the hearts and minds of Americans in ways that campaign speeches never could.

Born on this day in 1878, Upton Sinclair died in November 1968, having published more than 90 books during his 90 years on Earth.

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