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Upton Sinclair

Born September 20, 1878(1878-09-20)
Baltimore, Maryland
Died November 25, 1968 (aged 90)
Bound Brook, New Jersey
Occupation Novelist, writer, journalist, political activist
Nationality American

Upton Sinclair, Jr. (September 20, 1878 – November 25, 1968), was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author who wrote over 90 books in many genres. He achieved popularity in the first half of the 20th century, acquiring particular fame for his 1906 muckraking novel The Jungle. It exposed conditions in the U.S. meat packing industry, causing a public uproar that contributed in part to the passage a few months later of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act.[1]

Contents

Personal life

Sinclair was born in Baltimore, Maryland to Upton Beall Sinclair and Priscilla Harden. His father was a liquor salesman whose alcoholism shadowed his son's childhood. Sinclair had wealthy grandparents with whom he often stayed. This gave him insight into how both the rich and the poor lived during the late nineteenth century. Living in two social settings affected him greatly and highly influenced his novels. In 1888, the Sinclair family moved to the Bronx, where Sinclair entered the City College of New York at the age of fourteen, writing novels and magazine articles to pay for his tuition.

Sinclair married his first wife, Meta Fuller, in 1900. In 1904 Sinclair spent seven weeks in disguise, working undercover in Chicago's meatpacking plants to research his fictional exposé, The Jungle. When it appeared in 1906, it became a best-seller. With the income from The Jungle, Sinclair founded a utopian colony known as Helicon Hall in Englewood, New Jersey, and ran as a Socialist candidate for Congress.[2][3] The colony burned down within a year.[4]

Around 1911, Meta left Sinclair for the poet Harry Kemp, later known as the Dunes Poet of Provincetown, Massachusetts. After his wife left him, Sinclair married Mary Craig Kimbrough (1883–1961), a woman who was later tested for psychic abilities. After her death, Sinclair married Mary Elizabeth Willis (1882–1967). Late in life, he moved from California to Buckeye, Arizona and then to Bound Brook, New Jersey. Sinclair died in 1968 and is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C., next to his third wife, who died a year before him.

Upton Sinclair himself, selling the “Fig Leaf Edition” of his book Oil! in Boston.
Sinclair's grave in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

Political Career

In the 1920s Sinclair moved to Monrovia, California, where he founded the state's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. He moved to Southern California with an interest in politics, twice running unsuccessfully for Congress on the Socialist ticket - in 1920 for the House of Representatives and in 1922 for the Senate.

After a brief retirement from politics, Sinclair ran in the 1934 California gubernatorial election as a Democrat. With 879,000 votes, this was his most successful run for office, though he was still defeated by a sizable margin.[5] Sinclair's platform, known as the End Poverty in California movement (EPIC), galvanized the support of the Democratic Party, and Sinclair gained its nomination. Severe dust storms during the period made farming on the Great Plains impossible, and hundreds of thousands of Southern and Great Plains residents were forced to migrate westward in the hope of finding work and a new life. Upton Sinclair's plan to end poverty quickly became a controversial issue. Conservatives in California were themselves galvanized by it, as they saw it as an attempted communist takeover of their state. They used massive political propaganda that portrayed Sinclair as a staunch communist, even as he was being portrayed by American and Soviet communists as a capitalist. Science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein was deeply involved in Sinclair's campaign, a point that Heinlein tried to obscure in later biographies, as he tried to keep his personal politics separate from his public image as an author.[6]

Sinclair lost to Frank F. Merriam in the election and largely abandoned EPIC and politics to return to writing. However, the race of 1934 became known as the first race to use modern campaign techniques like motion pictures. In 1935 Sinclair published I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked, in which he expounded upon various techniques employed by Merriam's supporters, such as the tactics of Aimee Semple McPherson, who was vehemently against socialism and what she perceived as Sinclair's modernism, in spite of the fact that they had both supported Prohibition.

Of his gubernatorial bids, Sinclair remarked in 1951: "The American People will take Socialism, but they won't take the label. I certainly proved it in the case of EPIC. Running on the Socialist ticket I got 60,000 votes, and running on the slogan to 'End Poverty in California' I got 879,000. I think we simply have to recognize the fact that our enemies have succeeded in spreading the Big Lie. There is no use attacking it by a front attack, it is much better to out-flank them."[7]

Aside from his political and social writings, Sinclair took an interest in psychic phenomena and experimented with telepathy, writing a book entitled Mental Radio, published in 1930. According to Sinclair, a 34-pound table was levitated eight feet above his head by a young psychic's powers during a seance.[8][9]

The Upton Sinclair House in Monrovia, California, is now a National Historic Landmark. The papers, photographs, and first editions of most of Sinclair's books are found at the Lilly Library at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.[10]

Social activism

The popularity of Sinclair's novels derives from the social and economic conditions of the early twentieth century. He exposed his view of the injustices of capitalism and the overwhelming impact of the poverty present at the onset of the Depression. As an activist, Sinclair helped organize a Socialist Party in New Jersey.

In his book The Jungle, Sinclair wrote about the inhumane conditions wage earners experience because of unregulated capitalism. Ironically, he began writing this novel on Christmas. His purpose was to expose the truth behind the unregulated industry of the day, including the poor treatment of immigrant workers, the poverty they lived in, the unsafe working conditions, and their job insecurity, besides their low wages. Sinclair wrote that, in capitalism, the wealthy are in control, and something needs to be done about it. He was the founder of the End Poverty in California (EPIC) movement.[11]

The Lanny Budd series

Between 1940 and 1953, Sinclair wrote the World's End series of 11 novels about Lanny Budd, the son of an American arms manufacturer who moved in the confidence of world leaders, not simply witnessing events but often helping them to happen. The protagonist has been characterized as the antithesis of the "Ugly American," being a sophisticated socialite who mingled easily with people from all cultures and socioeconomic classes.[12]

The series covers in sequence much of the political history of the Western world (particularly Europe and America) in the first half of the twentieth century. Almost totally forgotten today, the novels were all bestsellers upon publication and were published in 21 countries. The third book in the series, Dragon's Teeth, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1943.

The novels in the Lanny Budd series are:

Sinclair in culture

Sinclair is extensively featured in Harry Turtledove's American Empire trilogy, an alternate history series in which the American Socialist Party succeeds in becoming a major force in US politics following two humiliating military defeats to the Confederate States and the post-1882 collapse of the Republican Party, with Abraham Lincoln leading a large number of Republicans into the Socialist Party. He wins the 1920 and 1924 presidential elections and becomes the first Socialist President of the United States, his inauguration attended by crowds of jubilant militants waving Red Flags. However, the actual policies which Turtledove attributes to him, once in power, are not particularly radical.[citation needed]

In the late 1990s, the television program "Working" used as its setting a company named Upton Weber. With the show's implicit criticism of contemporary working conditions (however watered down for popular audiences), the name suggests a reference both to Upton Sinclair and Max Weber (for his work on bureaucracy and capitalism).

Sinclair is featured as one of the main characters in Chris Bachelder's satirical fictional book, U.S.!: a Novel. Repeatedly, Sinclair is resurrected as a personification of the contemporary failings of the American-left and portrayed as a quixotic reformer attempting to stir an apathetic American public to implement socialism in America.

Films

The Jungle, originally published in 1906, was adapted for film in 1914. (This film appears to be lost or destroyed; no known copies are still available.)

Upton Sinclair was the writer or producer of several films, including his involvement, in 1930-32, with Sergei Eisenstein, for ¡Qué viva México!, Charlie Chaplin got him involved in the project.[13]

The Wet Parade (1931) became a film in 1932 directed by Victor Fleming. It starred Robert Young, Myrna Loy, Walter Huston and Jimmy Durante.

The Gnomobile (1937) was the basis of a 1967 Disney musical motion picture, The Gnome-Mobile.[14]

Oil! (1927) was the basis of There Will Be Blood (2007), starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano. It was written, produced, and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. The film received eight Oscar nominations and won two.[15]

Works

  • Courtmartialed - 1898
  • Saved By the Enemy - 1898
  • The Fighting Squadron - 1898
  • A Prisoner of Morro - 1898
  • A Soldier Monk - 1898
  • A Gauntlet of Fire - 1899
  • Holding the Fort (story) - 1899
  • A Soldier's Pledge - 1899
  • Wolves of the Navy - 1899
  • Springtime and Harvest - 1901
  • The Journal of Arthur Stirling - 1903
  • Off For West Point - 1903
  • From Port to Port - 1903
  • On Guard - 1903
  • A Strange Cruise - 1903
  • The West Point Rivals - 1903
  • A West Point Treasure - 1903
  • A Cadet's Honor - 1903
  • Cliff, the Naval Cadet - 1903
  • The Cruise of the Training Ship - 1903
  • Prince Hagen - 1903
  • Manassas - 1904
  • A Captain of Industry - 1906
  • The Jungle - 1906
  • The Millennium (drama) - 1907
  • The Overman - 1907
  • The Industrial Republic - 1907
  • The Metropolis - 1908
  • The Money Changers - 1908
  • Samuel The Seeker - 1909
  • Good Health and How We Won It - 1909
  • Love's Pilgrimage - 1911
  • The Fasting Cure - 1911
  • The Machine (novel) - 1911
  • Damaged Goods - 1913
  • Sylvia - 1913
  • The Pot Boiler - 1913 (Blue book series)
  • Sylvia's Marriage - 1915
  • The Cry for Justice - 1915
  • King Coal - 1917
  • The Profits of Religion - 1917
  • The Goslins - 1918
  • Jimmie Higgins - 1919
  • The Brass Check - 1919
  • Debs and the Poets - 1920
  • 100% - The Story of a Patriot - 1920
  • The Spy - 1920
  • The Book of Life - 1921
  • The McNeal-Sinclair Debate on Socialism - 1921
  • They Call Me Carpenter: A Tale of the Second Coming - 1922
  • The Goose-step: A Study of American Education - 1923
  • Hell - 1923
  • The Millennium (novel) - 1924
  • The Goslings - 1924
  • Singing Jailbirds (play in four acts) - 1924
  • Bill Porter - 1925
  • Mammonart - 1925
  • Letters to Judd - 1925
  • Spokesman's Secretary - 1926
  • Money Writes! - 1927
  • Oil! - 1927
  • Boston, volume 1 - 1928
  • Boston, volume 2 - 1928
  • Mountain City - 1930
  • Mental Radio - 1930
  • Roman Holiday - 1931
  • The Wet Parade - 1931
  • American Outpost - 1933
  • The Way Out - 1933
  • Upton Sinclair presents William Fox - 1933
  • Immediate Epic - 1933
  • We, People of America - 1933
  • The Epic Plan for California - 1934
  • I, Governor of California - 1934
  • The Lie Factory Starts - 1934
  • Epic Answers - 1934
  • The Book of Love - 1934
  • I, Candidate For Governor: And How I Got Licked - 1935
  • Depression Island - 1935
  • Co-op: a Novel of Living Together - 1936
  • What God Means to Me - 1936
  • No Pasaran!: A Novel of the Battle of Madrid - 1937
  • The Gnomobile- 1937
  • The Flivver King - 1937
  • Damaged Goods (based on a Eugène Brieux play); basis for 1937 movie
  • Little Steel - 1938
  • Our Lady - 1938
  • Letters to a Millionaire - 1939
  • Expect No Peace - 1939
  • Marie Antoinette - 1939
  • Telling The World - 1939
  • Your Million Dollars - 1939
  • World's End - 1940
  • Between Two Worlds - 1941
  • Dragon's Teeth - 1942
  • Wide Is the Gate - 1943
  • The Presidential Agent - 1944
  • Dragon Harvest - 1945
  • A World to Win - 1946
  • A Presidential Mission - 1947
  • A Giant's Strength - 1948
  • Limbo on the Loose - 1948
  • One Clear Call - 1948
  • O Shepherd, Speak! - 1949
  • Another Pamela - 1950
  • The Enemy Had It Too - 1950
  • Schenk Stefan! - 1951
  • A Personal Jesus - 1952
  • The Return of Lanny Budd - 1953
  • The Cup of Fury - 1956
  • What Didymus Did - UK 1954 / It Happened to Didymus - US 1958
  • Theirs be the Guilt - 1959
  • My Lifetime in Letters - 1960
  • Affectionately Eve - 1961
  • The Autobiography of Upton Sinclair - 1962, assisted by Maeve Elizabeth Flynn III
  • The Naturewoman - date unknown, Blue Book series
  • The Second-Storey Man -date unknown, Blue Book series
  • The Coal War - 1976

Footnotes

  1. ^ The Jungle: Upton Sinclair's Roar Is Even Louder to Animal Advocates Today
  2. ^ Unattributed (7 October 1906). "Upton Sinclair's Colony To Live At Helicon Hall. Luxury In Co-Operation And There May Be Some Compromises Just At First". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9E05E3DE1631E733A25754C0A9669D946797D6CFD6CF. Retrieved 22 August 2009. 
  3. ^ Paulin, L. R. E. (March 1907). "Simplified Housekeeping: The Present Quarters of Upton Sinclair's Colony At Englewood, New Jersey". Indoors And Out: The Homebuilder's Magazine III (6): 288–292. http://books.google.com/books?id=P0BAAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA1-PA288. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  4. ^ "Fire Wipes Out Helicon Hall, And Upton Sinclair Hints That the Steel Trust's Hand May Be In It". New York Times. 17 March 1907. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9406E5DB163EE233A25754C1A9659C946697D6CF. Retrieved 22 August 2009. 
  5. ^ Sinclair, Upton October 13, 1934 End Poverty in California The EPIC Movement The Literary Digest
  6. ^ Greg Mitchell, The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair and the EPIC Campaign in California (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1991)
  7. ^ United States Socialism Spartacus Educational
  8. ^ Martin Gardner, Fads and Fallacies: In the Name of Science, New American Library, 1986
  9. ^ Saturday Review, 14 April 1956
  10. ^ "Upton Sinclair (1878-1968)". Lilly Library Collections. Indiana University Bloomington. http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/overview/sinclair.shtml. 
  11. ^ Katrina Vanden Heuvel The Nation 1865-1990, p. 80, Thunder's Mouth Press, 1990 ISBN 1-56025-001-1
  12. ^ Salamon, Julie (22 July 2005). "Upton Sinclair: Revisit to Old Hero Finds He's Still Lively". New York Times: Books. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/22/books/22sala.html. Retrieved 21 Jan 2010. 
  13. ^ Que Viva Mexico entry at IMDB
  14. ^ Internet Movie Database: The Gnome-Mobile
  15. ^ Internet Movie database: There Will Be Blood(2007 movie)]

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

I know that our liberties were not won without suffering, and may be lost again through our cowardice.

Upton Beall Sinclair, Jr. (1878-09-201968-11-25) was a prolific American author who wrote in many genres, often advocating Socialist views, and achieved considerable popularity in the first half of the twentieth century.

See also: The Jungle (1906)

Contents

Sourced

Let us redeem our great words from base uses. Let that no longer call itself Love, which knows that it is not free!
I say if Germany be allowed to win this war — then we in America shall have to drop every other activity and devote the next twenty or thirty years to preparing for a last-ditch defence of the democratic principle.
American capitalism is predatory, and American politics are corrupt: The same thing is true in England and the same in France; but in all these three countries the dominating fact is that whatever the people get ready to change the government, they can change it.
I intend to do what little one man can do to awaken the public conscience, and in the meantime I am not frightened by your menaces.
All art is propaganda. It is universally and inescapably propaganda; sometimes unconsciously, but often deliberately, propaganda.
  • What life means to me is to put the content of Shelley into the form of Zola. The proletarian writer is a writer with a purpose; he thinks no more of "art for art's sake" than a man on a sinking ship thinks of painting a beautiful picture in the cabin; he thinks of getting ashore — and then there will be time enough for art.
    • Cosmopolitan (October 1906)
  • Let us redeem our great words from base uses. Let that no longer call itself Love, which knows that it is not free!
    • Love's Pilgrimage (1911)
  • I know you are brave and unselfish people, making sacrifices for a great principle but I cannot join you. I believe in the present effort which the allies are making to suppress German militarism. I would approve of America going to their assistance. I would enlist to that end, if ever there be a situation where I believe I could do more with my hands than I could with my pen.
  • I have lived in Germany and know its language and literature, and the spirit and ideals of its rulers. Having given many years to a study of American capitalism, I am not blind to the defects of my own country; but, in spite of these defects, I assert that the difference between the ruling class of Germany and that of America is the difference between the seventeenth century and the twentieth. No question can be settled by force, my pacifist friends all say. And this in a country in which a civil war was fought and the question of slavery and secession settled! I can speak with especial certainty of this question, because all my ancestors were Southerners and fought on the rebel side; I myself am living testimony to the fact that force can and does settle questions — when it is used with intelligence. In the same way I say if Germany be allowed to win this war — then we in America shall have to drop every other activity and devote the next twenty or thirty years to preparing for a last-ditch defence of the democratic principle.
    • Letter of resignation from the Socialist Party (September 1917)
  • American capitalism is predatory, and American politics are corrupt: The same thing is true in England and the same in France; but in all these three countries the dominating fact is that whatever the people get ready to change the government, they can change it. The same thing is not true of Germany, and until it was made true in Germany, there could be no free political democracy anywhere else in the world — to say nothing of any free social democracy. My revolutionary friends who will not recognize this fact seem to me like a bunch of musicians sitting down to play a symphony concert in a forest where there is a man-eating tiger loose. For my part, much as I enjoy symphony concerts, I want to put my fiddle away in its case and get a rifle and go out and settle with the tiger.
  • I intend to do what little one man can do to awaken the public conscience, and in the meantime I am not frightened by your menaces. I am not a giant physically; I shrink from pain and filth and vermin and foul air, like any other man of refinement; also, I freely admit, when I see a line of a hundred policeman with drawn revolvers flung across a street to keep anyone from coming onto private property to hear my feeble voice, I am somewhat disturbed in my nerves. But I have a conscience and a religious faith, and I know that our liberties were not won without suffering, and may be lost again through our cowardice. I intend to do my duty to my country.
    • Letter to the Louis D. Oaks, Los Angeles Chief of Police (17 May 1923)
  • I am a person who has never used violence himself. My present opinion is that people who have obtained the ballot should use it and solve their problems in that way. In the case of peoples who have not obtained the ballot, and who cannot control their states, I again find in my own mind a division of opinion, which is not logical, but purely a rough practical judgment. My own forefathers got their political freedom by violence; that is to say, they overthrew the British crown and made themselves a free Republic. Also by violence they put an end to the enslavement of the black race on this continent.
    • Interview with Rene Fulop-Miller (24 March 1923)
  • All art is propaganda. It is universally and inescapably propaganda; sometimes unconsciously, but often deliberately, propaganda.
    • Mammonart - an Essay in Economic Interpretation Ch. 2 Who Owns the Artists? (1925)
  • I wrote with tears and anguish, pouring into the pages all that pain which life had meant to me. Externally the story had to do with a family of stockyard workers, but internally it was the story of my own family. Did I wish to know how the poor suffered in winter time in Chicago? I only had to recall the previous winter in the cabin, when we had only cotton blankets, and had rags on top of us. It was the same with hunger, with illness, with fear. Our little boy was down with pneumonia that winter, and nearly died, and the grief of that went into the book.
    • On his writing of The Jungle, in American Outpost: A Book of Reminiscences (1932)
  • I used to say to our audiences: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
    • I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked (1935), ISBN 0-520-08198-6; repr. University of California Press, 1994, p. 109.
  • Fascism is capitalism plus murder.
    • Presidential Agent II (1944), ISBN 1-93131-318-0
  • The American People will take Socialism, but they won't take the label. I certainly proved it in the case of EPIC. Running on the Socialist ticket I got 60,000 votes, and running on the slogan to "End Poverty in California" I got 879,000. I think we simply have to recognize the fact that our enemies have succeeded in spreading the Big Lie. There is no use attacking it by a front attack, it is much better to out-flank them.
    • Letter to Norman Thomas (25 September 1951)
  • I just put on what the lady says. I've been married three times, so I've had lots of supervision.
    • Interview in The New York Times (7 September 1962)

Metropolis (1908)

I'm going to stop squandering money for things I don't want. I'm going to stop accepting invitations, and meeting people I don't like and don't want to know.
  • He was burning with a sense of outrage. He had been tricked and made a fool of; he had been used and flung aside. And now there was nothing he could do — he was utterly helpless. What affected him most was his sense of the overwhelming magnitude of the powers which had made him their puppet; of the utter futility of the efforts that he or any other man could make against them. They were like elemental, cosmic forces; they held all the world in their grip, and a common man was as much at their mercy as a bit of chaff in a tempest.
  • A new burst of rage swept over him — What did it matter whether it was true or not — whether anything was true or not? What did it matter if anybody had done all the hideous and loathsome things that everybody else said they had done? It was what everybody was saying! It was what everybody believed — what everybody was interested in! It was the measure of a whole society — their ideals and their standards! It was the way they spent their time, repeating nasty scandals about each other; living in an atmosphere of suspicion and cynicism, with endless whispering and leering, and gossip of low intrigue.
  • I'm going to stop squandering money for things I don't want. I'm going to stop accepting invitations, and meeting people I don't like and don't want to know. I've tried your game — I've tried it hard, and I don't like it; and I'm going to get out before it's too late. I'm going to find some decent and simple place to live in; and I'm going down town to find out if there isn't some way in New York for a man to earn an honest living!

The Profits of Religion (1918)

The Profits of Religion : An Essay in Economic Interpretation (1918)
If I had a hundred life-times I could not know all the creeds and ceremonies, the services and rituals, the litanies and liturgies, the hymns, anthems and offertories of Bootstrap-lifting.
The story of the hero who slays the devouring dragon was not merely a symbol of day and night, of summer and winter; it was a literal explanation of the phenomena, it was the science of early times.
Jesus, as we know, answered and said "Get thee behind me, Satan!" And he really meant it; he would have nothing to do with worldly glory, with "temporal power;" he chose the career of a revolutionary agitator, and died the death of a disturber of the peace.
  • Over the vast plain I wander, observing a thousand strange and incredible and terrifying manifestations of the Bootstrap-lifting impulse. There is, I discover, a regular propaganda on foot; a long time ago — no man can recall how far back — the Wholesale Pickpockets made the discovery of the ease with which a man's pockets could be rifled while he was preoccupied with spiritual exercises, and they began offering prizes for the best essays in support of the practice. Now their propaganda is everywhere triumphant, and year by year we see an increase in the rewards and emoluments of the prophets and priests of the cult. The ground is covered with stately temples of various designs, all of which I am told are consecrated to Bootstrap-lifting.
    • Introductory, "Bootstrap-lifting"
  • I discover that hardly a week passes that some one does not start a new cult, or revive an old one; if I had a hundred life-times I could not know all the creeds and ceremonies, the services and rituals, the litanies and liturgies, the hymns, anthems and offertories of Bootstrap-lifting.
    • Introductory, "Bootstrap-lifting"
  • Man is an evasive beast, given to cultivating strange notions about himself. He is humiliated by his simian ancestry, and tries to deny his animal nature, to persuade himself that he is not limited by its weaknesses nor concerned in its fate. And this impulse may be harmless, when it is genuine. But what are we to say when we see the formulas of heroic self-deception made use of by unheroic self-indulgence? What are we to say when we see asceticism preached to the poor by fat and comfortable retainers of the rich? What are we to say when we see idealism become hypocrisy, and the moral and spiritual heritage of mankind twisted to the knavish purposes of class-cruelty and greed? What I say is — Bootstrap-lifting!
    • Introductory, "Bootstrap-lifting"
  • When the first savage saw his hut destroyed by a bolt of lightning, he fell down upon his face in terror. He had no conception of natural forces, of laws of electricity ; he saw this event as the act of an individual intelligence. To-day we read about fairies and demons, dryads and fauns and satyrs, Wotan and Thor and Vulcan, Freie and Flora and Ceres, and we think of all these as pretty fancies, play-products of the mind; losing sight of the fact that they were originally meant with entire seriousness—that not merely did ancient man believe in them, but was forced to believe in them, because the mind must have an explanation of things that happen, and an individual intelligence was the only explanation available. The story of the hero who slays the devouring dragon was not merely a symbol of day and night, of summer and winter; it was a literal explanation of the phenomena, it was the science of early times.
    • Book One : The Church of the Conquerors, "The Priestly Lie"
  • There would be dreamers of dreams and seers of visions and hearers of voices; readers of the entrails of beasts and interpreters of the flight of birds; there would be burning bushes and stone tablets on mountain-tops, and inspired words dictated to aged disciples on lonely islands. There would arise special castes of men and women, learned in these sacred matters; and these priestly castes would naturally emphasize the importance of their calling, would hold themselves aloof from the common herd, endowed with special powers and entitled to special privileges. They would interpret the oracles in ways favorable to themselves and their order; they would proclaim themselves friends and confidants of the god, walking with him in the night-time, receiving his messengers and angels, acting as his deputies in forgiving offenses, in dealing punishments and in receiving gifts. They would become makers of laws and moral codes. They would wear special costumes to distinguish them, they would go through elaborate ceremonies to impress their followers, employing all sensuous effects, architecture and sculpture and painting, music and poetry and dancing, candles and incense and bells and gongs.
    • Book One : The Church of the Conquerors, "The Priestly Lie"
  • The first thing brought forth by the study of any religion, ancient or modern, is that it is based upon Fear, born of it, fed by it — and that it cultivates the source from which its nourishment is derived.
    • Book One : The Church of the Conquerors, "The Great Fear"
  • The supreme crime of the church to-day is that everywhere and in all its operations and influences it is on the side of sloth of mind; that it banishes brains, it sanctifies stupidity, it canonizes incompetence.
    • Book Two : The Church of Good Society, "The Canonization of Incompetence"
  • In the most deeply significant of the legends concerning Jesus, we are told how the devil took him up into a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time; and the devil said unto him: "All this power will I give unto thee, and the glory of them, for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will, I give it. If thou, therefore, wilt worship me, all shall be thine." Jesus, as we know, answered and said "Get thee behind me, Satan!" And he really meant it; he would have nothing to do with worldly glory, with "temporal power;" he chose the career of a revolutionary agitator, and died the death of a disturber of the peace. And for two or three centuries his church followed in his footsteps, cherishing his proletarian gospel. The early Christians had "all things in common, except women;" they lived as social outcasts, hiding in deserted catacombs, and being thrown to lions and boiled in oil.
    But the devil is a subtle worm; he does not give up at one defeat, for he knows human nature, and the strength of the forces which battle for him. He failed to get Jesus, but he came again, to get Jesus' church. He came when, through the power of the new revolutionary idea, the Church had won a position of tremendous power in the decaying Roman Empire; and the subtle worm assumed the guise or no less a person than the Emperor himself, suggesting that he should become a convert to the new faith, so that the Church and he might work together for the greater glory of God. The bishops and fathers of the Church, ambitious for their organization, fell for this scheme, and Satan went off laughing to himself. He had got everything he had asked from Jesus three hundred years before; he had got the world's greatest religion.
    • Book Seven : The Church of the Social Revolution, "Christ and Caesar"

The Brass Check (1919)

  • Journalism is one of the devices whereby industrial autocracy keeps its control over political democracy; it is the day-by-day, between-elections propaganda, whereby the minds of the people are kept in a state of acquiescence, so that when the crisis of an election comes, they go to the polls and cast their ballots for either one of the two candidates of their exploiters.
  • The methods by which the "Empire of Business" maintains its control over journalism are four: First, ownership of the papers; second, ownership of the owners; third, advertising subsidies; and fourth, direct bribery. By these methods there exists in America a control of news and of current comment more absolute than any monopoly in any other industry.
  • The reader will understand that I despise these "yellows"; they are utterly without honor, they are vulgar and cruel; and yet, in spite of all their vices, I count them less dangerous to society than the so-called "respectable" papers, which pretend to all the virtues, and set the smug and pious tone for good society — papers like the "New York Tribune" and the "Boston Evening Transcript" and the "Baltimore Sun," which are read by rich old gentlemen and maiden aunts, and can hardly ever be forced to admit to their columns any new or vital event or opinion. These are "kept" papers, in the strictest sense of the term, and do not have to hustle on the street for money. They serve the pocketbooks of the whole propertied class — which is the meaning of the term "respectability" in the bourgeois world. On the other hand the "yellow" journals, serving their own pocketbooks exclusively, will often print attacks on vested wealth, provided the attacks are startling and sensational, and provided the vested wealth in question is not a heavy advertiser.
  • In the course of my twenty years career as an assailant of special privilege, I have attacked pretty nearly every important interest in America. The statements I have made, if false, would have been enough to deprive me of a thousand times all the property I ever owned, and to have sent me to prison for a thousand times a normal man's life. I have been called a liar on many occasions, needless to say; but never once in all these twenty years has one of my enemies ventured to bring me into a court of law, and to submit the issue between us to a jury of American citizens.
  • When Mr. John P. Gavit, managing editor of the New York Evening Post, wrote to Mr. Melville E. Stone, general manager of the Associated Press, that I had a reputation "as an insatiable hunter of personal publicity," what Mr. Gavit meant was that I was accustomed to demand and obtain more space in newspapers than the amount of my worldly possessions entitled me to.

100%: the Story of a Patriot (1920)

Now and then it occurs to one to reflect upon what slender threads of accident depend the most important circumstances of his life; to look back and shudder, realizing how close to the edge of nothingness his being has come.
An event of colossal and overwhelming significance may happen all at once, but the words which describe it have to come one by one in a long chain.
Full text online at the University of Virginia
  • Now and then it occurs to one to reflect upon what slender threads of accident depend the most important circumstances of his life; to look back and shudder, realizing how close to the edge of nothingness his being has come.
    • Section 1
  • An event of colossal and overwhelming significance may happen all at once, but the words which describe it have to come one by one in a long chain.
    • Section 2
  • Wherever there was a group of people, and a treasure to be administered, there Peter knew was backbiting and scandal and intriguing and spying, and a chance for somebody whose brains were "all there."
    • Section 2
  • It was cold and clammy in the stone cell; they called it the "cooler," and used it to reduce the temperature of the violent and intractable. It was a trouble-saving device; they just left the man there and forgot him, and his own tormented mind did the rest.
    • Section 4

Quotes about Sinclair

You protest, and with justice, each time Hitler jails an opponent; but you forget that Stalin and company have jailed and murdered a thousand times as many … compared to the Moscow brigands and assassins, Hitler is hardly more than a common Ku Kluxer and Mussolini almost a philanthropist. ~ H. L. Mencken (1936)
  • What Fielding was to the eighteenth century and Dickens to the nineteenth. Sinclair is to our own. The overwhelming knowledge and passionate expression of specific wrongs are more stirring, more interesting, and also more taxing than the cynical censure of Fielding and the sentimental lamentations of Dickens.
    • Review of Oil (1927) in The Nation (5 December 1927)
  • I look upon Upton Sinclair as one of the greatest novelists in the world, the Zola of America.
  • I did not want to say these unpleasant things, but you have written to me, asking my opinion, and I give it to you, flat. If you would get over two ideas — first that any one who criticizes you is an evil and capitalist-controlled spy, and second that you have only to spend a few weeks on any subject to become a master of it — you might yet regain your now totally lost position as the leader of American socialistic journalism.
    • Sinclair Lewis, in a letter to Sinclair on his book Money Writes! (3 January 1928)
  • You protest, and with justice, each time Hitler jails an opponent; but you forget that Stalin and company have jailed and murdered a thousand times as many. It seems to me, and indeed the evidence is plain, that compared to the Moscow brigands and assassins, Hitler is hardly more than a common Ku Kluxer and Mussolini almost a philanthropist.
    • H. L. Mencken, letter published in The American Mercury (June 1936)
  • I have regarded you, not as a novelist, but as an historian; for it is my considered opinion, unshaken at 85, that records of fact are not history. They are only annals, which cannot become historical until the artist-poet-philosopher rescues them from the unintelligible chaos of their actual occurrence and arranges them in works of art. When people ask me what has happened in my long lifetime I do not refer them to the newspaper files and to the authorities, but to your novels. They object that the people in your books never existed; that their deeds were never done and their sayings never uttered. I assure them that they were, except that Upton Sinclair individualized and expressed them better than they could have done, and arranged their experiences, which as they actually occurred were as unintelligible as pied type, in significant and intelligible order.
  • I have never known a novel that was good enough to be good in spite of its being adapted to the author’s political views.

See also

External links

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Simple English

Upton Beall Sinclair (1878-1968) was a writer of many works from the United States. His most famous book, The Jungle from 1906, was about the American meat-packing industry.

Upton Sinclair had political opinions and was a socialist. Most of Sinclair's books, including The Jungle, dealt with social injustice.

He wrote many other books. His book The Flivver King was about the Ford Motor Company. The Flivver King was written at the time when workers at Ford factories were trying to start a labor union. He wrote a series (many books in a row) with Lanny Budd as the main character. There were eleven (11) Lanny Budd books. The Lanny Budd books were about current events in the World at the time.

He later joined the Democratic Party and ran for governor of the state of California in 1934. He wanted California to start new businesses which would be run by the state government. This was to help people who were unemployed (did not have jobs) because of the Great Depression. He lost the election.

He retired in the town of Buckeye, Arizona.


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