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fanuzzir
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Join Us in January for a Timely Discussion

Before spinach and scallions it was hot dogs and beef. Did we every really leave the world of The Jungle behind?

Upton Sinclair's famous "muckraking" novel is one of the rare pieces of literature to have inspired landmark legislation and actually changed the way people eat. But it is hard to imagine a better time to rediscover the meaning of this novel for our own time and to pose again its most searching questions.

I'll begin my part of the conversation on Monday, January 8th; you'll see more detailed discussion topics posted in this space shortly before then. Please join us in the new year, as we explore the story of human struggle that took Sinclair to the stockyards and beyond.
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Choisya
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Re: Join Us in January for a Timely Discussion

I've just received 'The Jungle Fanuzzir but am still heavily into Moby Dick - can I tackle them both over the holiday period I wonder or will that give me indigestion as well as eating too much festive fare??? I also want to reread Kafka.....Decisions, Decisions!




fanuzzir wrote:
Before spinach and scallions it was hot dogs and beef. Did we every really leave the world of The Jungle behind?

Upton Sinclair's famous "muckraking" novel is one of the rare pieces of literature to have inspired landmark legislation and actually changed the way people eat. But it is hard to imagine a better time to rediscover the meaning of this novel for our own time and to pose again its most searching questions.

I'll begin my part of the conversation on Monday, January 8th; you'll see more detailed discussion topics posted in this space shortly before then. Please join us in the new year, as we explore the story of human struggle that took Sinclair to the stockyards and beyond.


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ELee
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Decisions, decisions

This does get rather complex. In the past I had limited myself to participating in one group at a time. But now, with so many discussions that I want to participate in happening at once, I have to admit that this new format is making me "multi-book-ual". For me, what is exciting about this is finding aspects in common between authors, whether it be subject matter, writing style, symbolism or life experience (just to name a few). In reading and discussing The House of the Seven Gables, Cranford, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Moby Dick, there have been many times when a point of discussion in one has led me to a similarity in one of the others. I'm discovering that this enriches and expands my understanding (and enjoyment!).
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Decisions, decisions



ELee wrote:
This does get rather complex. In the past I had limited myself to participating in one group at a time. But now, with so many discussions that I want to participate in happening at once, I have to admit that this new format is making me "multi-book-ual". For me, what is exciting about this is finding aspects in common between authors, whether it be subject matter, writing style, symbolism or life experience (just to name a few). In reading and discussing The House of the Seven Gables, Cranford, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Moby Dick, there have been many times when a point of discussion in one has led me to a similarity in one of the others. I'm discovering that this enriches and expands my understanding (and enjoyment!).


What a great thing to hear you say, ELee. I agree: When possible I try to overload my plate. The different elements resonate with one another.



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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Choisya
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Re: Decisions, decisions

I agree. All my life I have been multi-bookual, always keeping at least two books on the go, usually one fiction and one non-fiction. However, I am now having to become multi-discussional and that is equally enriching, especially as I often have to listen to a strange language:smileyvery-happy::smileyvery-happy::smileyvery-happy:




ELee wrote:
This does get rather complex. In the past I had limited myself to participating in one group at a time. But now, with so many discussions that I want to participate in happening at once, I have to admit that this new format is making me "multi-book-ual". For me, what is exciting about this is finding aspects in common between authors, whether it be subject matter, writing style, symbolism or life experience (just to name a few). In reading and discussing The House of the Seven Gables, Cranford, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Moby Dick, there have been many times when a point of discussion in one has led me to a similarity in one of the others. I'm discovering that this enriches and expands my understanding (and enjoyment!).


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Laurel
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Re: Decisions, decisions

Well put, ELee! I'm enjoying the Great Conversation, too.



ELee wrote:
This does get rather complex. In the past I had limited myself to participating in one group at a time. But now, with so many discussions that I want to participate in happening at once, I have to admit that this new format is making me "multi-book-ual". For me, what is exciting about this is finding aspects in common between authors, whether it be subject matter, writing style, symbolism or life experience (just to name a few). In reading and discussing The House of the Seven Gables, Cranford, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Moby Dick, there have been many times when a point of discussion in one has led me to a similarity in one of the others. I'm discovering that this enriches and expands my understanding (and enjoyment!).


"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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atlantic1018
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Re: Join Us in January for a Timely Discussion

The Jungle is yet another epitome of a failed American Dream. It is an endlesss, horizonless search for a civilized humanity. A false sense of reanse of reality and security. It is the true essence of the American Nightmare that seems to plague all immigrants.
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atlantic1018
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Re: Join Us in January for a Timely Discussion

The Jungle is appropriately created as a novel of both criticism and of sympathy. Criticism for the corrupt American society and the meat-packing industry. Sympathy for the failures that have been created by virtually all impoverished immigrants. The more one searches for success, the less capable he/she is of obtaining such success. Tragic misunderstandings and torture inflict the poor family. They are in search of a new life in the "golden" land, yet they are greeted by money-hungry people. They are doomed for failure and their lives will, forever, be devastated.
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Choisya
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Re: Join Us in January for a Timely Discussion

[ Edited ]

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-22-200707:07 PM

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atlantic1018
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Re: Join Us in January for a Timely Discussion

Indeed America is being criticized for failure and Sinclair epitomizes this failure through just one of the millions of immigrant families. Thus America must be bound for destruction; The Jungle is a wake-up call and must be critically viewed as such. Political debates can and do arise when "the devastation of America" is brought up. Look at Frankenstein, for example. Frankenstein is a novel warning us of the dangers of machines, and here we are typing on computers. Frankenstein also, like The Jungle, epitomizes the death and defeat of traditional America. Machines mean the end of skilled professions. The failure of desperate but optimistic immigrants tends to create a similar message; the "old rich" Americans override the ideals of the soon-to-be rich and well-to-do Americans. This is where the ideals of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby come in. "Rich girls don't marry poor boys." Thus, rich Americans do NOT "marry" (in this case accept) the impoverished immigrants. To become part of the "old rich" is to become a true American, and Sinclair is denouncing such American mentality.

And, yes, there is an obsolete distinction between rich immigrants and impoverished immigrants seeking success in a Hell-bound Packingtown. Not all immigrants are impoverished by monetary means. Although, some by "push" factors, and some by "pull" factors.




Choisya wrote:
But aren't most Americans, by definition, descended from 'impoverished immigrants'? Does this mean that America itself is 'doomed to failure'? There are those on the international scene today who see America as doomed to repeat the 'fall of Rome' as it wreaks its own devastation in the Middle East, for instance.
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Choisya
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Re: The Jungle - a wake up call

[ Edited ]
I would not say that America is being criticised for failure but rather for its imperialism, which Melville foresaw. We are perhaps witnessing another 'fall of Rome'. As I have posted elsewhere, a la Oscar Wilde, machines can also be made to serve man and to release his artistry. Few have seen beyond the soul-less factories of Chaplin's Modern Times or Sinclair's Packingtown but the computer has, in fact, educated millions and released thousands from the drudgery of the daily commute. Political action is now being organised via the internet, which is open to rich and poor alike. Maybe there is hope?:smileyhappy:

You may find this website of interest:-

http://frankensteinweb.com/




atlantic1018 wrote:
Indeed America is being criticized for failure and Sinclair epitomizes this failure through just one of the millions of immigrant families. Thus America must be bound for destruction; The Jungle is a wake-up call and must be critically viewed as such. Political debates can and do arise when "the devastation of America" is brought up. Look at Frankenstein, for example. Frankenstein is a novel warning us of the dangers of machines, and here we are typing on computers. Frankenstein also, like The Jungle, epitomizes the death and defeat of traditional America. Machines mean the end of skilled professions. The failure of desperate but optimistic immigrants tends to create a similar message; the "old rich" Americans override the ideals of the soon-to-be rich and well-to-do Americans. This is where the ideals of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby come in. "Rich girls don't marry poor boys." Thus, rich Americans do NOT "marry" (in this case accept) the impoverished immigrants. To become part of the "old rich" is to become a true American, and Sinclair is denouncing such American mentality.

And, yes, there is an obsolete distinction between rich immigrants and impoverished immigrants seeking success in a Hell-bound Packingtown. Not all immigrants are impoverished by monetary means. Although, some by "push" factors, and some by "pull" factors.

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-28-200605:24 PM

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atlantic1018
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Re: The Jungle - a wake up call

The Jungle can be an interpretation of humanity's sole figment of imagination. Maybe the reality of Packingtown is a past assumption and therefore Sinclair is looking upon it as perhaps the demoralization of America. America's past seems to demoralize its future and makes certain an unfortunate demise. It tends to make America look indecent to further indecent immigrants. It is unfair then to only capture the modern and more contemporary aspect of The Jungle: it is, though, most appropriate to view The Jungle as a warning. Perhaps it is a warning that if certain issues remain unsolved then America is doomed to demise. It can indeed be viewed as a wake-up call.

See the figmented imagination of humanity in effect in Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio.

Choisya, thanks for the website and your comments!
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sshirley
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Re: The Jungle - a wake up call

I agree that The Jungle is a warning. To some degree, industry's abuse of workers was reduced through union activity and thorugh legislation, but our new wave of immigrants fall prey to the same kind of industry abuse, because so many are not legal residents. Industry is not penalized for perpetuating a dual system of employment where one groups i protected with minimum wages, safety provisions and benefits, and another group (illegal immigrants) are paid less, receive no benefits, and are not protected by normal safety equipment. Clearly, big business is at it again.

I think another interesting thing about Sinclair's work, is that it ended up being a catalyst for change in the meat packing and food industries in terms of safe food. It was intended to be a catalyst for change in terms of labor relations and worker rights. Maybe legislators were more interested in protecting themselves than protecting the workers?? Or maybe it just had a lesser affect on worker's rights because so many other things were going on at that time in worker's rights.
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zeile
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Re: Join Us in January for a Timely Discussion

Hi!

I would like to know if the edition you are using for the discussion is the uncensored original. I have an older B&N hardcover. But I think it is the edited version. Thanks.
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atlantic1018
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Re: The Jungle - a wake up call

Sinclair's work is indeed a catalyst. It uniquely and gradually sped up the anti-abuse sentiment of workers. Immigrants come to this country to succeed; they believe that Americans prosper quite easily. They view Americans as people drenched in money, yet the reality of it all is that hard work is evident especially in America. In America one must gain the respect of many in order to succeed.

Please comment!
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Choisya
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Re: The Jungle - a wake up call

It isn't just America that immigrants think is 'drenched in money'. There have been songs written about the streets of London being 'paved with gold' and Europe is also seen as a Shangri La. There is a tradition of former British Commonwealth citizens emigrating to the UK and many former colonial citizens are still entitled to British Citizenship. Europe is also much easier and cheaper for many immigrants to get to - only the Mediterranean separates us from Africa and the Middle East and the welfare systems of European countries provide a better 'safety net' for immigrant workers than does the US. Hard work is needed everywhere to succeed but dreams of easy money persist and always will. Unfortunately, there will always be a Jungle out there for some:smileysad:



atlantic1018 wrote:
Sinclair's work is indeed a catalyst. It uniquely and gradually sped up the anti-abuse sentiment of workers. Immigrants come to this country to succeed; they believe that Americans prosper quite easily. They view Americans as people drenched in money, yet the reality of it all is that hard work is evident especially in America. In America one must gain the respect of many in order to succeed.

Please comment!


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Choisya
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Re: The Jungle

[ Edited ]

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-22-200707:06 PM

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ELee
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European Immigration

"...in addition to the immigration quotas Europe has accepted as part of its burden in settling immigrants from other parts of the world and to seekers of asylum from political oppression."

"I fear that some immigrants are bringing aspects of their Jungles to their host countries, as well as much needed skills."

Choisya,

What would you say is the common opinion "over there" regarding having to be responsible for settling immigrants? There are many divergent aspects of it here in the US, which seem to "pull communities apart" rather than draw them together. Personally, I find the language issue very complex. With the population of Spanish-speaking people growing rapidly in the US, it seems we non Spanish-speaking persons may soon need to learn a second language in order to communicate. The old slogan of "you're living in America now, so you have to speak American!" is not going to "cut it" for much longer, I think.
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Choisya
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Re: The Jungle

[ Edited ]

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-22-200707:06 PM

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ELee
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European/American Immigration

And I took French in high school (eons ago!)...

Choisya wrote:

"However, the falling birth rates in the developed countries means that we desperately need workers and future taxpayers to maintain our current lifestyles."

I am not "up on" birthrates in the US, but we have a similar situation. In my own experience, I see a widening gap between the poverty-stricken on welfare and middle [economic] class workers; many of these jobs are in a "service" capacity though (restaurant/food chains, department/specialty stores, etc.) which would require the ability to communicate with the American public. Generalizing, it seems that Americans want no part of manual/menial labor, so that immigrants are filling that growing space in the work force.
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