Upton Beall Sinclair

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Sinclair, Upton Beall


Born Sept. 20, 1878, in Baltimore, Md.; died Nov. 25, 1968, in Bound Brook, N.J. American writer.

Sinclair was born into a family of impoverished Southern aristocrats. He studied at Columbia University. His first published work was the novel King Midas (1901). The novel The Jungle (1905; separate edition, 1906), which denounced capitalist exploitation in the Chicago slaughterhouses, was widely acclaimed. Sinclair’s participation in the socialist movement (from 1903) reinforced the social criticism expressed in his novels The Metropolis and The Money-Changers (both 1908). A “socialist of the emotions, without any theoretical training” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 26, p. 270), Sinclair was often misled by liberal reformist illusions.

Sinclair’s best novels included King Coal (1911), about a miners’ strike in Colorado, and Jimmie Higgins (1919), devoted to an ordinary American proletarian who championed the October Revolution. After some artistic decline in the early 1930’s, as seen in the novels Roman Holiday (1931) and Co-op (1936), Sinclair responded to the antifascist movement with The Flivver King (1937) and No Pasaran! (1937).

In Sinclair’s epic about Lanny Budd, consisting of 11 books (1940-53), the reversals in the hero’s fate are depicted against a broad historical background. The action covers the period from 1910 to the late 1940’s and takes place in many countries. However, the last books of the cycle bear the imprint of the cold war, thus resulting in Sinclair’s creative crisis in the period of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Late in life he proclaimed his opposition to nuclear warfare and declared his sympathies for the USSR.


Anthology. New York, 1947.
My Lifetime In Letters. Columbia, Mo., 1960.
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch., vols. 1-12. Leningrad, 1930-32.
Dzhimmi Khiggins. Moscow, 1957.
Korol’ Ugol’. Moscow, 1958.


Gorky, M. “Perepiska s E. Sinklerom.” In Perepiska A. M. Gor’kogo s zarubezhnymi lileratorami. Moscow, 1960.
Istoriia amerikanskoi literatury, vol. 2. Moscow, 1971.
Libman, V. A. [”Bibliografiia rabot o Sinklere na rus. iaz.”] In Problemy istorii literatury SShA. Moscow, 1964. Pages 442–46.
Gilenson, B. A. Sotsialisticheskaia traditsiia ν literature SShA. Moscow, 1975.
North, J. “U. Sinclair.” Daily World. Nov. 23, 1968.
Geduld, H. M., and R. Gottesman. Sergei Eisenstein and Upton Sinclair. Bloomington, Ind., 1970.
Dell, F. Upton Sinclair. New York [1970].
Upton Sinclair: Biographical and Critical Opinions. Folcroft, Pa., 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.