The Jungle

"The Jungle: Fiction, History, or Both?"

The classification of Upton Sinclair's novel The Jungle is ambivalent as it contains elements characteristic of both fiction and historical writing. These elements, including imaginary events which define fiction or literature, and the real events or statistics that comprise history, make it difficult to define The Jungle, as they are tightly interwoven throughout the novel. However, with the aid of a theoretical model for analyzing narrative, fiction, and historical writing provided by writers such as Hayden White and E. M. Forester, the relationship between fiction and history in The Jungle becomes clearer. White argues that Sinclair's novel is not purely historical because imaginary events appear throughout the novel and work to group the novel within the literary genre. Yet, according to White, all historical writing must have a visible moral basis, and because fictional events and elements of literary narrative provide a moral basis, the novel maintains this aspect. Forester's work augments White's theory by explaining how literary devices such as plot development create meaning in Sinclair's novel.

White's essay "On Narrative" gives a definition of what constitutes as a legitimate historical narrative, information that is...

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