The Jungle

Publication history

Sinclair published the book in serial form between February 25, 1905, and November 4, 1905, in Appeal to Reason, the socialist newspaper that had supported Sinclair's undercover investigation the previous year. This investigation had inspired Sinclair to write the novel, but his efforts to publish the series as a book met with resistance. An employee at Macmillan wrote,

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I advise without hesitation and unreservedly against the publication of this book which is gloom and horror unrelieved. One feels that what is at the bottom of his fierceness is not nearly so much desire to help the poor as hatred of the rich.[5]

Five publishers rejected the work as too shocking.[6] Sinclair was about to self-publish a shortened version of the novel in a "Sustainer's Edition" for subscribers when Doubleday, Page came on board; on February 28, 1906 the Doubleday edition was published simultaneously with Sinclair's of 5,000 which appeared under the imprint of “The Jungle Publishing Company” with the Socialist Party’s symbol embossed on the cover, both using the same plates.[7] In the first 6 weeks, the book sold 25,000 copies.[8] It has been in print ever since, including four more self-published editions (1920, 1935, 1942, 1945).[7] Sinclair dedicated the book "To the Workingmen of America".[9]

The copyright (in some countries) expired after 100 years, so there is now (as of March 11, 2006) a free or "public domain" copy of the book available on the web site of Project Gutenberg.[10]

Uncensored edition

In 2003, See Sharp Press published an edition based on the original serialization of The Jungle in Appeal to Reason, which they described as the "Uncensored Original Edition" as Sinclair intended it. The foreword and introduction say that the commercial editions were censored to make their political message acceptable to capitalist publishers.[11] Others argue that Sinclair had made the revisions himself to make the novel more accurate and engaging for the reader, corrected the Lithuanian references, and streamlined to eliminate boring parts, as Sinclair himself said in letters and his memoir American Outpost (1932).[7]


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