The Jungle (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

The Jungle (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Paperback(Standard Edition (1906))

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The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
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  • Footnotes and endnotes
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  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.


Upton Sinclair’s muckraking masterpiece The Jungle centers on Jurgis Rudkus, a Lithuanian immigrant working in Chicago’s infamous Packingtown. Instead of finding the American Dream, Rudkus and his family inhabit a brutal, soul-crushing urban jungle dominated by greedy bosses, pitiless con-men, and corrupt politicians.

While Sinclair’s main target was the industry’s appalling labor conditions, the reading public was most outraged by the disgusting filth and contamination in American food that his novel exposed. As a result, President Theodore Roosevelt demanded an official investigation, which quickly led to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug laws. For a work of fiction to have such an impact outside its literary context is extremely rare. (At the time of The Jungle’s publication in 1906, the only novel to have led to social change on a similar scale in America was Uncle Tom’s Cabin.)

Today, The Jungle remains a relevant portrait of capitalism at its worst and an impassioned account of the human spirit facing nearly insurmountable challenges.

Maura Spiegel teaches literature and film at Columbia University and Barnard College. She is the coauthor of The Grim Reader and The Breast Book: An Intimate and Curious History. She coedits Literature and Medicine, a journal.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593081188
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 04/01/2005
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Edition description: Standard Edition (1906)
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 7,981
Product dimensions: 7.96(w) x 5.24(h) x 1.06(d)

Read an Excerpt



From Maura Spiegel's Introduction to The Jungle

Upton Sinclair described the site of Chicago's meatpacking industry, Packingtown, as "the greatest aggregation of labor and capital ever gathered in one place." The supreme achievement of American capitalism, Sinclair would undertake to reveal, was also its greatest disgrace. At the age of twenty-six, Sinclair set out to write The Jungle in the spirit of Saint George battling the dragon. His was an age of capitalist Titans, of magnates whose wealth, power, and hubris seemed unlimited: A single man owned a million acres of the Texas Panhandle, an American coal tycoon attempted to buy the Great Wall of China, and in the Midwest a combination known as the Beef Trust tightly controlled the production and sale of meat through pervasive wage and price fixing and the unrelenting exploitation of the stockyard workforce. Sinclair's was also an age when writers, both journalists and novelists, were experiencing a thrilling sense of their own efficacy. The investigative exposé-what President Theodore Roosevelt would unflatteringly dub "muckraking," after the character in John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1678, 1684) who could "look no way but downward, with a muckrake in his hands"-had taken the magazine and publishing world by storm, had grabbed hold of the popular reader, and was shining a bright light on the ever-darkening realms of child labor, prisons, insurance companies, and, foremost, American enterprise and its role in the creation of a new American class of impoverished industrial wage slaves.

With their tremendous descriptive and explanatory power, books such as Henry Demarest Lloyd's Wealth against Commonwealth (1894), a study of American business syndicates and trusts, Ida Tarbell's History of the Standard Oil Company (1904), and Lincoln Steffens's The Shame of the Cities (1904), an exposé of municipal corruption and the ties between government and business in six American cities, had a significant impact on public debate, turning uncertainty into indignation and despair into outrage. Combining rigorous research and firsthand reporting with moralistic rhetoric, these works revealed how the contemporary world worked, how businesses were being transformed into empires, and how these empires were bleeding the public in an exploitative relationship starkly delineated by Lloyd on the first page of Wealth against Commonwealth (see "For Further Reading"): "Holding back the riches of earth, sea, and sky from their fellows who famish and freeze in the dark, they [the syndicates and trusts] . . . assert the right, for their private profit, to regulate the consumption by the people of the necessaries of life, and to control production, not by the needs of humanity, but by the desires of few for dividends."

Energized by their sense of mission, these journalists also understood that at that moment, when magazines and books were reaching wider audiences than ever before, there was no more powerful means at their disposal than the written word. They had a confidence in the power of their medium that writers seldom experience today. Not yet competing with motion pictures, either dramatic or documentary, these writers seemed to understand that, for the moment at least, the written word was the document of truth. Even photographs could not vie with narrative for getting at what was real. Consider, in this regard, the reader's first exposure to the packing yards in The Jungle, when Jurgis and his family take a tour. As spectators, outsiders, what they see is an immensely impressive system; Jurgis himself is full of admiration; the family is "breathless with wonder" at the magnitude, the efficiency; "it seemed to them impossible of belief that anything so stupendous could have been devised by mortal man." This first impression, like a panoramic set of photographs, lacked narrative dimension. As the novel unfolds, we discover, along with Jurgis, that only through time and its unraveling- that is, through narrative-can the real meaning of these impressive images be disclosed and comprehended.

Given the great success of the muckraking journalists, and Sinclair's admiration for them (including his friend Lincoln Steffens), it is worth examining why Sinclair did not choose to write his Packingtown book as a journalistic exposé, especially considering that he had written a series of articles on the failed meatpackers strike of 1904. In choosing fiction over a journalistic account, Sinclair was responding to a moment when novelists were also taking on the real and exploring new techniques for storytelling, and as a consequence enjoying a heady period of reinvigoration and a renewed sense of their own persuasive power. Frank Norris, whose highly successful The Octopus (1901) was based on an actual clash in 1880 between farmers in California's San Joaquin valley and the Southern Pacific Railroad, wrote in a 1902 essay:

If the novel were not one of the most important factors of modern life, . . . if its influence were not greater than all the pulpits, than all the newspapers between the oceans, it would not be so important that its message should be true. . . . [The people] look to-day as they never have looked before, as they never will look again, to the writer of fiction to give them an idea of Life beyond their limits, and they believe him as they never have believed before and never will again" ("The Responsibilities of the Novelist," Critic 16, December 1902; in Documents of American Realism and Naturalism, edited by Donald Pizer). Novelists had their own distinct aims and responsibilities, not only to represent "the true" but to give symbolic dimension to the new and strange. They sought to find language to describe the urban blight that was growing and spreading at frightening speed, drawing a vast population to toil and live in a new kind of poverty, to struggle against a new kind of filth and stench, to look upon a new kind of ugliness, and to endure new illnesses, injuries, and perils. The speed at which change was occurring intensified the sense that these transmutations were unstoppable. (In 1864 the Chicago meatpacking plants and stockyards were built, and were up and running within a matter of six months; within a short time every railroad that entered Chicago went to the yards, creating a ribbon of 100 miles of track surrounding the new plants that grew to 250 miles by 1905.) Such vastness and efficiency possessed the power to awe, and to overwhelm. Sinclair, and writers of his school, sought to represent the inhuman magnitude of industrial expansion, but also to give it symbolic shape-a human comprehensibility.

Although Sinclair portrays the crushing, machine-like force of a man-made hell, he turned for his title to an image from the natural world (as Frank Norris had done in choosing the octopus to describe the spread of the railway), to a place that, particularly in this period, evoked a sense of primal fear, a "heart of darkness." The Jungle represented a setting inhospitable to human life, where "civilized" man does not thrive, where life is an unrelenting and ultimately a dehumanizing battle. From our perspective, at the other end of the twentieth century, Sinclair's world had yet to arrive at the shared symbolic reference points for man-made horror provided for us by systematic genocide, concentration camps, and industrial warfare.

For many writers of this new school of realism (or what some describe as Naturalism, which I discuss below), there was a sense of liberation from the requirement to tell a story; now the conditions of life were the story. (If for postmodernist writers, reality is no longer realistic, for writers of this period, reality was a new frontier, vivid and legible.) Exploring new narrative structures, novelists, following Émile Zola's lead, were hanging their narratives on the framework not of an individual life, but of an industry or the history of a commodity. Zola had built his novels around coal mines, the emergence of the department store, stock market speculation, even a Parisian laundry. But when Sinclair determined to write a novel about the packing yards, he hit upon more than an apt framing device, more even than an industry that needed to be exposed for its heinous practices; consciously or not, he hit upon the subject that would give his novel its most enduring quality. The Jungle is, arguably, the only muckraking novel of its era that is still read for more than historical interest. In the slaughterhouse Sinclair found both the symbol and the objective correlative for the condition of the worker in that moment, as well as a trope for the entire twentieth century.

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The Jungle 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 415 reviews.
AggieFencer More than 1 year ago
I read this book back when I was in middle school and to this day (starting graduate school soon) it still remains my favorite book of all time. Even though I am a Laissez-faire Capitalist and am not too fond of the last chapter, I am a vegetarian and someone who is going into public service. I still find it interesting that Sinclair's book had to be toned down because if he had described the situation even more accurately, readers wouldn't have been able to keep down their lunches. I love how he tells the story of this immigrant family. The first chapter is a little slow, but it really helps the reader to understand how difficult it can be to blend two cultures.. and it is also symbolic because the tail end of the wedding celebration foreshadows the family's hardships that are later to come. If you have never read this book.. please do so ASAP.
Phylls Mcdonald More than 1 year ago
So I just purchased this classic for $.99 cents. Know why its si cheap? Because you can only read the ad, over and over again. This book I am so eager to read is held just out of reach. ANY MORE OF THESE goof ups and I'll switch to Kindle!!!!! And guess what nook won't let me post my complaint!!!
Rex Cooper More than 1 year ago
My book would not open eithet. Too bad B&N will not fix it
AGNYC More than 1 year ago
This version of the ebook will not download to my Nook on several attempts OR either of the 2 iPads that I attempted on. When I contact customer service about this they were NO help at all and would not give a refund for a book that would not download.
Venesa Delgado More than 1 year ago
Shouldve read the reviews first. Does not open at all. Do not purchase.
Carolyn Jordan More than 1 year ago
does not work. wish i had bothered to read the reviews
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am 16 years old and reading this for my book report. Upton Sinclair really packs a punch with his powerful writing that describes the lives of immigrants from Lithuania. Even though this is a fictional story, we learn that America isn't the go-lucky country of freedom for all. Most of these immigrants came here in search of better wages and release from their former autocratic regimes, but soon learned the harsh reality which surrounded their hope of freedom. These Lithuanian immigrants suffer from unsanitary housing, and meager wages in an horrible working environment. This extremely detailed book is a MUST read for our 'spoiled' teenagers, (eh hehm... students from beverly hills high school...) who haven't learned the true value of a dollar.
SpryGuy More than 1 year ago
I bought this book but couldn't open it. I called tech support. The agent had me archive the book and unarchive it, but that didn't help. Then she had me download a free book to make sure I had a good internet connection, which I did have. Then she downloaded the book and tried to open it, but she couldn't. So she thanked me for bringing to B&N's attention the fact that this book is defective, and she told me that my credit card would be credited in 2-3 business days. Thirty business days have gone by and my card has not been credited.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
   SPOILER WARNING: The book chronicles the story of a young man named Jurgis Rudkus, a polish immigrant who is trying to make a living at a meat packing industry in order to provide for his family. The novel itself is beautiful and horrifying, giving scrutinizing detail about the horrors of the early 1900’s and its gruesome labor laws. The family is constantly struggling to get by with each member slowly needing to get jobs in order to support their cost of living. Rudkus loves his family, but after 12 hour shifts at the factory he begins to spend his hard earned cash at the bar in order to take the sting of daily monotonous routines. The tale becomes more and more gruesome and eventually Rudkus runs away to the countryside to start his own life, only to return and find his sister has become a prostitute. This rage and anger eventually and almost ironically turns him into a supporter of communism, who fight for workers’ rights.  I love the story not only because of how apparently awful labor laws were back then, but also because it was a book that inspired change, but not the way it was intended. While Upton Sinclair wrote the book for a change in how labor laws were looked at, the real issue that people were concerned with was the meat packing industry. Rudkus recalls in his work experience that meat would just fall into the sawdust and no one washed their hands when handling different types of meat. Rudkus even recalls of how rats would run across the fallen meat and this was just common circumstance. The book inspired such outrage and disbelief that Roosevelt looked into and realized the horror, and so the FDA was born because of one book. The sheer weight of a book carrying such influence that it changes the entire functioning of an industry and becomes much grander than itself I find truly inspirational. This is why I feel enlightenment is so important, a whole nation of people were ignorant to the things they would put into their stomachs until a simple book came along and revealed the horror. Sure, people may not want to hear an ugly truth, but when diseased meat is shipped out daily it can be assumed that perhaps enlightenment should prevail over ignorance.    
tommythomas1951 More than 1 year ago
This book does not open on my nook even though it shows as being on the nook. When I called customer service, I was met with an assistant that had an ATTITUDE of major proportions. She had me unregister my nook and then reregister it but when I could not find my network password she goes off and says that B&N does not have any control of my wireless system -- like I didn't know. If there is a way to report this UNFRIENDLY person I sure would like to know. How am I going to get my refund -- I am going to dispute my charge and let B&N explain it to the credit card company. I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even though I'm only fourteen, this book has impacted me so much. I find this book to be amazing. I think that Sinclair is an excellent writer, with much to tell about his experiences. He portrayed Jurgis and his family of clueless, poor immigrants with spot on writing. I highly reccomend this book. Not only does it reveal the appalling labor & food conditions, it reveals the condition of regular 'city life' in Packingtown. It also reveals the kind of life that immigrants had to endure coming into a seemingly perfect life. The writing itself was so intricate, that you can't help but keep reading on. So, obviously, read this! At first, it was super confusing. After getting further into it, I wouldn't dare put it down, to let the story of Jurgis unfold. Thank you, Upton Sinclair, and Barnes & Noble!
KaWIlli More than 1 year ago
I had always heard about the impact this book had on the food industry and how the public viewed working conditions, but it took reading it to really understand why. Not only does it chronicle the disgusting conditions in Chicago, but it also tells a fascinating political story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thank you Upton Sinclair! Sinclair took his bold views and went against the corporate machine, exposing the ill treatment of workers during his time. Not only that, but the hazardous working conditions and the gross sanitation practices. Don't read this right after eating. Thanks to Mr. Sinclair, the Food Industry was forced to change for the health and safety of not only the workers, but for the consumers as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've heard about this book for years and thought it would be a good summer read. I found it interesting and heart wrenching. It was obviously quite an eye opener at one time and sad to realize America (in part) treated its immigrants this way. I was extremely disappointed in the ending. I would not read it again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow food sanitary conditions got me but the biggest thing that is burning in my brain was the working condition these characters n real people went threw. Just made me rethink where my food is really comming from lets guess abused drugged animals caged a person named hector whom is over worked extreme low paid and in very unsanitary conditions n not just meat how many times have produce been recalled things havent change i think i was taught to look away insted of whats the real picture
Alan Fincher More than 1 year ago
How does BN rate books? The 2.5 is not an avg of reviewers. Although i agree with megin on principle, i wonder if she has actually opened this version. Has anyone been able to get a refund yet?
megin More than 1 year ago
This book has always been one of my absolute favorites. Upton Sinclair (thankfully!) had part in changing how we live today, by bringing to light the horrible conditions in the meat industry. His work led to the "passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which established the Bureau of Chemistry that would become the Food and Drug Administration in 1930." With his research and publishing all completed before he even hit 30 years old.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this novel for AP U.S. History class. I, like others, understood the immense impact this novel posed on American society and legislature at the time. However, I found this book to be a very boring read; it takes a long time to read a simple chapter, and Sinclair's writing is horrid - the grammar is completely wrong, and semi colons are applied where there should be commas! The story drags on and on, from one tragedy to another, and one may dread having to turn to the next chapter or even the next page. I was assigned to read the novels "Uncle Tom's Cabin," which also had a profound effect on American society, and "A Rise to Rebellion." I enjoyed both of those novels; but as for "The Jungle": two thumbs down. Here's a word of advice to those students that have to read this novel: read about 30 pages a day and no more than that. In other words, read little by little, and plan to spend a little over a week on it. To those that wish to read it for pleasure: good luck.
angelthreads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I decided to read this as one of those books I have heard of as classics, but I had never read. I anticipated that these books would be things to wade through. I could not have been more surprised. I didn't want to put it down. It was fascinating and if I had not known when it was written, I would have thought it was contemporary. I did think it ended rather abruptly, but I couldn't put it down.
RebeccaAnn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Every once in a while, you read a book that makes you look back and reevaluate your life. For me, that book is The Jungle.It was absolutely heart wrenching following Jurgis Rudkus, the main character, and his constant failed attempts to provide for his family. An immigrant from Lithuania, he came to America to strike it rich and marry Ona, the girl of his dreams. They, along with ten other members of their family, go to the stockyards of Chicago where they have heard that jobs are available for everyone.What they didn't know is they would have to work fourteen hour days under horrible conditions to make enough to barely survive.It's amazing how spoiled today's society is. I could never handle this type of work. The difference between now and a hundred years ago is staggering to behold. When reading The Jungle, it is obvious to the reader the luxuries available to them that were inconceivable back then. And the losses that Jurgis had to cope with! He survived as he watched member after member of his family die. You see him at his strongest, his weakest, his cruelest. You are there, pitying him when he is forced to sleep under cars in the dead of winter and you are there, cursing him as he allows himself get sucked into the system, making his living off of the misery of others when he becomes a boss at one of the stockyards. You see how the misery finally trumps even the strongest soul. Every man has a breaking point, a point where he will do anything to survive.Apart from being a real eye opener, Sinclair's prose is amazing. His descriptions of events and sights put you right in the middle of Chicago's stockyards. I didn't even notice when paragraphs went on for more than a page because I was so involved with every single sentence. The book opens with a wedding feast and you can smell the food and hear the laughter and music and see the couples dancing. When Jurgis first sees the inside of a stockyard, you are right there, witnessing the horrible sight. It's extremely powerful.I usually never give a book five stars because so few are really, truly good. However, I don't think I could give The Jungle anything but five stars. This book makes me wish there was an option for a sixth star.
agnesmack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is a book that I wish I'd read years ago. The lessons contained within are heartbreaking, unimaginable and essential. The writing was precise, descriptive and affecting. While I didn't exactly enjoy this incredibly depressing book, it was one of the most powerful books I've read.I know that many reviews complain about Sinclair's Socialist lean, as he does make it very apparent in the last 50 pages that he believes Socialism is the way to avoid the problems depicted in this book, namely the abuse of worker's by the bosses, poverty in general, the link between poverty and crime and the stigma against immigrants.To me, the protagonist's progression to Socialism made sense, was certainly backed up and was important to the overall text. I'm not sure how so many people seem to separate it from the text and say things like, ¿Oh, I loved it...except for that last Socialist bit in the end.¿ Perhaps they are the same sort of people who 'love' The Diary of Anne Frank. You know, except for that whole depressing holocaust part.
rschipul on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book had three parts. The first is the heart-wrenching story of an immigrant family - coming with high hopes, working hard, living/working in deplorable conditions and getting taken advantage of by everyone. The second part occurs after the man leaves his family and tramps around - still a hard-scrabble life but as a single man, not quite as frustratingly helpless - a bit of a look at how society treats the homeless. The third being a multi-page lecture on socialism.It started strong and the family dynamics were compelling - their hopelessness was palpable. The conditions of working in the meat packing plants were truly horrific - nice to know that portion of the story led to government intervention. I thought it fizzled in "part two" and had to drag myself through the socialist rant at the end.Ever since reading, I have been trying to draw parallels between the immigrants of the early 1900s and the immigrant battles going on today. I think both groups come to America with dreams of living a better life. I think they both work hard for relatively low pay in physically demanding, blue collar jobs. The only difference I see now is the social programs in place that didn't exist in the early 1900s. In the book, free food comes from the shelter and medical treatment is a luxury they cannot afford. Government programs in place now provide food, shelter, medicine and education to all the people who want it - at the expense of those that they deem can afford it. I think this is what is causing the backlash against immigration. The labor is still cheap and plentiful. But by changing the role of charitable contributions to a government-enforced tax, we no longer appeal to the human desire to care for our fellow man. We now demand they pay. The result, as we've seen, is everyone trying to get/keep as big a piece of the pie as they can.
N.Nebeluk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is the reason there should be an option for 6 starts. A tragic story of an immigrant who comes to America for a better life but is just used up and left to die, his heart and back broken as a consequence of the greedy factory owners. This book is amazing both for the way it handles big issues such as the corruption of factory owners and the small issues of the day to day life of an immigrant in the early 1900's. An amazing book that should be on everyone's list of books to read and in every school's curriculum.
Alera on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At the turn of the 20th century, muckraking was a new term for journalists who sought out corruption with the intent to expose. And there was a lot to be found. Most of their contributions have been forgotten, or go unnoticed. Time has passed and their words and works have stopped being relevant. Which is possibly what makes The Jungle so very special. On one level it is simply the story of an immigrant family trying to survive in a new country where they know nothing of the environment, the language, the customs, or the political and financial situations. All they know is they want a better life, a fuller life. Their innocence is heartbreaking as you follow these fictional characters along a path that was all too real for immigrants in Chicago at the time. On another level, this novel actually changed something, not necessarily what the author intended, with his clear and hammering message for socialism near the end. But it managed to be part of the cause of the forming of stricter regulations on food production. It got to people. In fact I think in some ways it still gets to people. And that is journalism and writing at its finest. Upton Sinclair managed to reveal the harsh and horrible realities of factories in the early 1900's, while immortalizing the strength and determination of men, women, and children who would and did do anything to survive in the some of the most disgusting and demeaning conditions imaginable.
foof2you on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book could be called the prequel to Fast Food Nation. Written in 1906 it is ammazing to see how the poor and uneducated are used for fodder by the beef trust. One feels the struggles of Jurgis and his family. This is trily a classic that holds the reader even today.