A Month in the Jungle: a novel

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This undermines narratives of essential difference between species. The Jungle Book stories focus a great deal on the issue of belonging, raising questions about the grounds on which one may claim to belong to a particular group or community: is belonging a matter of being born a member of a group, or is it a matter of convention and social agreement?

Because Mowgli is raised by wolves and initiated into their society he has a hybrid identity. On the other hand, Akela, the leader of the wolves, claims kinship with Mowgli on the basis that:. He has slept with us. He has driven game for us.

The mighty Jungle Book |

He has broken no word of the law of the jungle. So there are ambiguities there, but a close reading of The Jungle Book stories leads me to feel that there is more to them than an imperialist narrative. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence. Sinclair began to abbreviate the text.

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He corrected the Lithuanian references, changing, for example, the name of the main character from Rudkos to the more typical Rudkus. He sought to streamline the novel, making it less repetitious and didactic. At the same time, he ran into problems with Macmillan, a major publisher that had advanced him a contract for book rights following serialization. The Macmillan arrangement disintegrated by autumn Next Sinclair tried to persuade the Appeal to issue the novel as a book, but Warren and Wayland, although phenomenally successful at publishing socialist periodicals, felt ill-equipped to enter into book promotion and distribution.

Frustrated, Sinclair resolved to publish the book on his own. In a letter published in the Appeal to Reason November 18, , Sinclair criticized capitalist publishing and requested that readers help subsidize the printing costs by ordering copies in advance. He began to trim the work according to his taste and to have the book set into type.

Then a surprise turn of events transpired: Doubleday, Page offered him a contract. Sinclair was satisfied that Doubleday would not pressure him to make changes he could not accept. He asked Doubleday to permit him to publish his own small concurrent edition. Their memorandum of agreement was signed on January 8, Just one month later, in February , Doubleday, Page put out The Jungle , and the book took the world by storm. There were five in all; and by that time I was raging, and determined to publish it myself.

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I had a printing firm in New York at work putting The Jungle into type. Then, just as the work was completed, some one suggested that I offer the book to Doubleday, Page and Company. Page and his young assistants. Doubleday, Page agreed to bring out the book, allowing me to have a simultaneous edition of my own to supply my 'sustainers. De Grave presumes that because, say, a given passage condemning capitalism was excised, the resultant novel somehow excuses capitalism.

For the most part, however, Sinclair was pruning away duplicative material. It is an absurdity to allege that The Jungle , recognized by millions as one of the leading social novels of the twentieth century, apologized for the rich or overlooked disease and death among the poor.

The Jungle was revised, not suppressed. It was published precisely as Sinclair wished. Its refashioning was not ruinous, and Sinclair emended it voluntarily, not under duress. The text of The Jungle is best understood not as pristine and superior, but as an unevenly executed rough draft produced in great haste. Sinclair truncated it for aesthetic reasons. Most literary critics still believe there's too much of that in the novel, as it is. Rewriting abounds in literary history.

Charles Dickens, for example, altered the ending of Great Expectations , serialized in , when it appeared as a book, yielding to the entreaties of his friend, the playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Shakespeare, Milton, and Wordsworth all published different versions of identical works. There is value, to be sure, in having the version of The Jungle available in print.

We need an authoritative scholarly edition of The Jungle that would demarcate precisely which passages were cut or altered between its and versions, with an introduction explaining, in a measured way, the significance of the changes. In the meantime, we have the See Sharp edition, hyperbolic to the point of irresponsibility.

Ironies abound in this situation. A radical publisher betrays suspicion of change. A supposedly truer text is promoted with claims contradicted by the evidence. An edition of a novel that indicts capitalism repeatedly for fleecing gullible consumers is advertised misleadingly. A publishing house that accuses all others of crass commercial motives happens upon a cash cow it is unlikely to relinquish. The failure of the American left is less a result of censorship than of a paucity of ideas capable of winning over new audiences not yet committed to the cause.

The left will never transcend the culture of capitalism unless it forgoes stratagems that advance neither social justice nor historical truth.

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The fault, dear Brutus, lies in ourselves. Author's addendum July 19, This morning I was going over some old research files and came across a personal letter written by Upton Sinclair in It published large installments, I would say at a guess about a newspaper page; so all my revelations concerning conditions in the packing houses had been put before a huge public early in the year. I had been offering the manuscript of the book to publishers in New York—I think to five—without result.


Spirit of the Jungle

They were afraid of it, and finally growing desperate I decided to publish the book myself. I got Jack London to write his tremendous endorsement of the book. I had the plates made and paid for. Then—I have forgotten how—it occurred to me to offer the book to Doubleday-Page; and they immediately accepted it and agreed to take over my plates and to let me have and sell my own edition.

He pared down the text and had"the plates made and paid for" himself. Then he received a contract from Doubleday, Page. That publisher, in turn, used Sinclair's self-prepared plates when issuing the book in , while allowing Sinclair to issue his sustainer's edition simultaneously. In short, The Jungle was printed by Doubleday in not in a censored form but just as Sinclair wished--indeed, from plates he himself had prepared.

DeGruson, Gene. Memphis: Peachtree, Shore , Elliott. Wayland and the Role of the Press in American Radicalism, Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, Sinclair, Upton. A New Edition of The Jungle. Pasadena, California: Upton Sinclair, n. American Outpost: A Book of Reminiscences. New York: Farrar and Rinehart, Tucson, Arizona: See Sharp Press, Upton Sinclair: The Lithuanian Jungle. Amsterdam and New York: Editions Rodopi, The letter cited in the addendum is to G. Lewin, 1 December , and is found in Correspondence, Box Both letters are quoted courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University.

Yes, I wrote that review for Monthly Review when I was a twenty-something graduate student. In it I took at face value, based on trust and respect, the claims of Gene DeGruson, who edited the first so-called "unexpurgated" edition of the book. I was very impressed by those claims. In the same way, many now are impressed when they first encounter the See Sharp edition, which exaggerates DeGruson's claims to an extreme.

They are, as I said in my HNN piece, very attractive and romantic claims: the debasement of a radical novel by capitalist publishers. For years, I continued to believe all of DeGruson's claims. I figured that DeGruson, as the archivist who to his great credit refocused our collective attention on the original edition in the Appeal to Reason, surely portrayed the novel's genesis correctly.

But when actually working in the archives for my own research on the book -- occasioned by its centenial -- I did not find that DeGruson's claims held up. Too much of the evidence in Upton Sinclair's correspondence and interviews was at direct odds with them.

Into the Jungle

The evidence was overwhelming that there was no "censorship" by any conventional publisher, that Sinclair revised the text himself, that he considered this editing rather than expurgation, and that he preferred the revised version. Furthermore, the politics of the novel were perfectly intact in the commonly avaiable edition of the novel. No one has ever mistaken it for anything but a socialist novel. It was not expurgated in the sense of a political stripping of meaning. This is why I was compelled to change my position. So it is certainly the case that I would not write about these matters now as I first did in , as a graduate student.

As for disclosure, it didn't even occur to me that readers of HNN would care about that very old review written by me. It seems to me that the pertinent issue at stake in this debate is what Sinclair intended and did, not what I have thought over time. While I therefore think the evidence that I have raised is far more important and interesting to discuss, I don't at all mind this being raised on HNN. My position changed? Of course. That's merely a sign that I took the original claims made by DeGruson seriously, used them as my working hypothesis, and then learned more and understood the topic more fully and accurately in the intervening period.

It is a requirement of competent history that historians change their interpretations when confronted with new evidence. That's what I did on the question of the origins of The Jungle. I did, by the way, submit a brief, paragraph-long retraction of my old review to Monthly Review a few years ago, but they did not print it.

I can't say as I blame them; my review was very long dated, and who would really care that I had changed my position fifteen years later? It's hardly big news.

I Wrote An Entire Book In 30 Days

Scholars do this. The real crime would have been to have stuck by the old myth in the light of the overwhelming and compelling evidence.

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