The Jungle is a 1906 novel written by the American journalist and novelist Upton Sinclair (1878–1968). Sinclair wrote the novel to portray the lives of immigrants in the United States in Chicago and similar industrialized cities. Many readers were most concerned with his exposure of health violations and unsanitary practices in the American meatpacking industry during the early 20th century, based on an investigation he did for a socialist newspaper.
Originally published in 1991 as part of a short-lived revival of the Classics Illustrated line, this adaptation of Sinclair's muckraking socialist novel succeeds because of its powerful images. When Kuper initially drew it, he was already a well-known left-wing comics artist. His unenviable task is condensing a 400-page novel into a mere 48 pages, and, inevitably, much of the narrative drama is lost. Kuper replaces it, however, with unmatched pictorial drama. The story follows Lithuanian immigrant Jurgis Rudkis and his family as they are eaten up and spit out by capitalism (represented by Chicago's packing houses). Kuper uses an innovative full-color stencil technique with the immediacy of graffiti to give Sinclair's story new life. When Jurgis is jailed for beating the rich rapist Connor, a series of panels suffused with a dull, red glow draw readers closer and closer to Jurgis's face, until they see that the glint in his eye is fire. Jurgis, briefly prosperous as a strong-arm man for the Democratic machine, smokes a cigar; the smoke forms an image of his dead son and evicted family. Perhaps most visually dazzling is the cubist riot as strikers battle police amid escaping cattle. Kuper infuses this 1906 novel with the energy of 1980s-era street art and with his own profoundly original graphic innovation, making it a classic in its own right.
Fond memories of ninth grade English class. First time I heard the term "muck-racking". As the first generation of an Irish immigrant I can definitely understand the search for a better life. A truly underrated classic
Thoughts from a non-reader
First: I have never had the patience to read the 'classics'. I'm very much a "wait-for-the-movie" kind of guy. The only reason I sat down to read this were, to be perfectly frank, to read the infamously brutal depictions of the meat-packing industry in the Industrial Revolutionary days of Chicago. I'm a born & raised Chicago native and for curiosity's sake, I thought I would skim the the book, be bored & put it down.
I was wrong. I am kicking myself for never having read this classic before. What a rollercoaster ride of triumph & heartbreak - despite this being a work of fiction, the character of Jurgis, in particular, could not be any more 'human', for better or worse. This is not light reading, but the payoff is there. Thank you for making this classic available free of charge.
It was good
The novel was very interesting in terms of plot but it was also written very much like a textbook. It was hard to understand without rereading parts or without the audiobook.