California Socialist, Celebrity Intellectual
Publication Year: 2013
Had Upton Sinclair not written a single book after The Jungle, he would still be famous. But Sinclair was a mere twenty-five years old when he wrote The Jungle, and over the next sixty-five years he wrote nearly eighty more books and won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. He was also a filmmaker, labor activist, women’s rights advocate, and health pioneer on a grand scale. This new biography of Sinclair underscores his place in the American story as a social, political, and cultural force, a man who more than any other disrupted and documented his era in the name of social justice.
Upton Sinclair: California Socialist, Celebrity Intellectual shows us Sinclair engaged in one cause after another, some surprisingly relevant today—the Sacco-Vanzetti trial, the depredations of the oil industry, the wrongful imprisonment of the Wobblies, and the perils of unchecked capitalism and concentrated media. Throughout, Lauren Coodley provides a new perspective for looking at Sinclair’s prodigiously productive life. Coodley’s book reveals a consistent streak of feminism, both in Sinclair’s relationships with women—wives, friends, and activists—and in his interest in issues of housework and childcare, temperance and diet. This biography will forever alter our picture of this complicated, unconventional, often controversial man whose whole life was dedicated to helping people understand how society was run, by whom, and for whom.
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
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Upton Sinclair both disrupted and documented his era. The impact of his most famous work, The Jungle, would merit him a place in American history had he never written another book. Yet he wrote nearly eighty more, publishing most of them himself. What Sinclair did was both simple and profound: he committed his life to help-...
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Over the past fifteen years, I became acquainted with a fascinating group of Sinclair scholars, who generously shared their work with me. I am profoundly grateful to Ron Gottesman, John Ahouse, and Along the way to this biography, I was able to edit a collection of Sinclair’s writings in and about California. I thank Malcolm ...
1. Southern Gentlemen Drank, 1878–1892
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Whiskey in its multiple forms — mint juleps, toddies, hot Scotches, eggnogs, punch — was the most conspicuous single fact in my boy-hood. I saw it and smelled it and heard it everywhere I turned, but In 1838 twenty-year-old Frederick Douglass quietly slipped away from the shipyards of Baltimore toward a life of freedom.¹ His ...
2. Making Real Men of Our Boys, 1893–1904
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...and respectability in general, he passed out of the range of parental By the 1890s the Sinclairs had managed to rent a tiny apartment on West Sixty-Fifth Street where they could cook their own meals. On a typical day Upton might stop at the neighborhood market on the along with a nickel tip. The meat was wrapped, laid on top of a box ...
3. Good Health and How We Won It, 1905–1915
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...socialists, feminists, and radicals of all kinds in America. Socialism was never again as exciting and persuasive as during these years, before the purges of antiwar activists and immigrant organizers of Theodore Roosevelt opened a space for organizing that flocks of activists surged into, championing causes ranging from passing ...
4. Singing Jailbirds, 1916–1927
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He is an effeminate young man with a fatuous smile, a weak chin and a sloping forehead, talking in a false treble. Never before an audi-ence of red-blooded men could Upton Sinclair have voiced his weak, pernicious, vicious, doctrines. His naïve, fatuous smile alone would have aroused their ire before he opened his vainglorious mouth. Let ...
5. How I Ran for Governor, 1928–1939
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Who tells the world to “Open Wide” and spots a hollow tooth?he was no longer interested in fighting over the publication and distribution of Oil! in Boston: “The situation there is too tense and serious for that kind of joking. What I want to do is to go very quietly and gather the material for a big novel, and take a couple ...
6. World’s End, 1940–1949
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I wish I were terribly rich, I wish I had an inexhaustible quantity of paper: for I would supply a whole set of the Lanny Budd novels to every boy and girl graduating from high school. I think they would then have a better chance of entering the adult world with In 1937 Sinclair published No Pasaran! Intellectuals in America and ...
7. A Lifetime in Letters, 1950–1968
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So you, like me, “are there.” We are tough ones, you and I. Certainly I am pleased if you have found any of my letters interesting enough to publish. Go ahead! Yes, Upton, the “world do move,” if we care to In early 1950 the Sinclairs rented out the house in Monrovia and moved to nearby Riverside in 1948 with his family to open an auto-...
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The past that has not been tamed with words is not memory, only After Sinclair’s death, Ryo Namikawa wrote an obituary for Japanese readers, lamenting that “the merry days of America have passed away with him.”¹ There is no longer any published journal about Sinclair, generations about his role and significance in American life.² Yet ...
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Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 27 illustrations, 1 map
Publication Year: 2013