Friday, March 03, 2006

the religion of humanity

In honor of the publication of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle one hundred years ago, the LA Times reprinted Anthony Arthur's afterword from a new edition of the meat industry exposé:

Sinclair was a recent convert to socialism, as were many thoughtful Americans in those times. But he was not visibly a rebel and certainly not a bohemian — he never smoked or drank, avoiding even tea and coffee. He also rejected the then-fashionable intellectual arguments for "free love" as banal, though liberated women frequently let him know they liked his wavy brown hair and intense blue eyes, his physical grace (he played tournament-level tennis for many years) and his way of carrying himself as a Southern gentleman. Indeed Sinclair's conduct was commonly described as courtly; even many of his antagonists, flayed by Sinclair in print, agreed with his friend Charlie Chaplin that in person he customarily spoke "through a smile."

Side note: Sinclair also wrote two books that take a look at religion in Los Angeles: Oil! provides a fictional portrait of a male evangelist based on Aimee Semple McPherson and They Call Me Carpenter has Jesus paying a visit to the city.