For my current book, I’ve been reading a bit of work by and about turn-of-the-century muckraking journalists. The last time I did this was for an article on the most famous member of their ranks, Upton Sinclair, on the 100th anniversary of his best-known book, The Jungle. Reading the article again today, I’m interested to see this line:
There’s even a movie in the works: “There Will Be Blood,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis, begins production in May. It is based on another Sinclair novel, “Oil!”
I remember writing it. The point was to ramp up the feeling that we were in a “Sinclair moment” (for lack of a better term). I had no idea at the time, but the movie became a big success: best picture nominee, best actor award to Day-Lewis, etc. It turns out that Sinclair is still bankable. That was the major theme of the article: For a guy who railed against capitalism, Sinclair sure did well by it. Here’s how the article begins:
Few writers have known how to exploit the capitalist system with the entrepreneurial skill of Upton Sinclair. He sold the manuscript for “The Jungle,” his best-known book, no less than four times: Twice in serial form, then to a book publisher, and finally to another book publisher. It was 100 years ago this month, in fact, that Doubleday (the second publisher) issued its edition of “The Jungle,” sparking a commercial sensation that launched a long and lucrative career — much of it spent in the service of anti-capitalist causes.