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The Meaning of Meat in Industrial Social Protest Novels;

An Analysis of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and Yuri Olesha's Envy

Submitted to Professor Peter Barton Hutt in Satisfaction of the Written Work Requirement.

Kathleen May Ryan

March 22, 1996


For centuries, writers with political and social agendas have used fiction both to promote causes and to incite their readerships and legislatures into action. This article analyzes the attempts of two twentieth-century Socialist writers to call attention to problems with their respective ruling political regimes and with the industrialization these regimes promoted. More specifically, this article addresses the ways in which both authors utilized meat products and the meat packing industry as vehicles for illuminating their concerns.

Chapter One examines the text and unintended political effects of Th e Jungle, a novel written by the famed American Socialist, Upton Beall Sinclair.' In this brutally realistic piece, Sinclair used meat images and metaphors to convey the plight of industrial slaughterhouse workers under Capitalist industrialization. In contrast, Chapter Two turns to the short modernist novel Envy, written by Soviet author Yuri Karlovich Olesha and to this text's fate under an oppressive Communist regime.2 In this novel, Olesha employed meat images to demonstrate the human price which may have to be paid for industrialization to succeed. Unlike Sinclair's critique of Capitalism, however, Olesha utilized meat imagery to question the value of Socialist industrialization given the sacrifices which Olesha believed were required by the Communist Party's agenda.

The following comparison of the literary devices utilized in these novels demonstrates how two authors use images of the same subject, the meat industry, to promote vastly different political and social agendas. The

1 Upton Sinclair, The Jungle 162 (Doubleday, Page & Company 1906) [Hereinafter The Jungle].

2 Yuri Olesha, Envy (T.S. Berczynski trans., 1975) [hereinafter Olesha].

respective effect of these novels, however, illuminates many of the difficulties facing writers such as Sinclair and Olesha who try to communicate their beliefs to governments hostile to their views and to readerships potentially unconcerned with the author's ideology.


Chapter One: Hitting the American Public in the Stomach

The setting of Sinclair's novel The Jungle is the early twentieth-century Chicago meat packing yards in Packingtown and their squalid surroundings. Throughout the piece, Sinclair criticizes the harsh lives of the workers and the filth and lack of safety in the yards. He also reveals the industry-wide contamination and intentional adulteration of meat. Upon publication, Th e Jungle became an immediate success, causing an outcry of fear from the American public. Readers were horrified to discover the putrid state of their food supply. In fact, quite soon after The Jungle reached the public, meat sales in the United States were cut in half.3 President Roosevelt responded as well, following Sinclair's advice as to the best method for investigating the packing yards further. Both this public outrage and the findings of the investigations prompted by Sinclair's novel contributed enormously to the passage of the food acts of 1906, The Pure Food and Drugs Act and The Meat Inspection Act.4 Even today, The Jungle stands out as an inspiration to writers and students, demonstrating the phenomenal impact a writer can accomplish by reaching out to the public through fiction.

At first glance one would assume that Sinclair must have been quite satisfied with and proud of the tremendous effect his novel had in calling the public and the legislature into action about a truly national problem. In assessing his activities during this period, however, Sinclair later wrote with seemingly sad resignation, "I look back upon this campaign, to which I gave

3 James Harvey Young, Pure Food: Securing the Federal Food and Drugs Act of 1906, at


434 Stat. 669,674(1906). 21 U.S.C. § 601 et seq. is the citation for The Federal Meat Inspection Act in its current form.


three years of brain and soul sweat, and ask what I really accomplished."5 Despite his impact on the quality and safety of the nation's food supply, he had not forwarded his agenda in writing The Jungle at all. This is because Sinclair's personal goal in writing The Jungle was far from raising consumer and legislative consciousness about impurities in the American food supply. Rather, he was an avid Socialist, full bent of attracting others to his political beliefs. The Jungle had been his attempt to show his readers in graphic detail the evils of Capitalism and the plight of the American worker, offering in the final chapters Socialism as the ultimate cure for these injustices. The support of this Socialist novel by a consumer class obsessed with the quality of its meat was thus quite ironic. The following analysis addresses the origin and historical context of The Jungle's publication and investigates possible explanations for this odd alliance between Sinclair the Socialist and the American capitalistic consumer.

Sinclair was first and foremost a Socialist. Before completing Th e Jungle he had already founded the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, later known as the League for Industrial Democracy, and had chosen Jack London as its president.6 Later, with the proceeds of his writings, he founded a Socialist settlement known as the Helicon Home Colony.7 In addition to promoting Socialist institutions, Sinclair dedicated his entire life's writings, including The Jungle, to the Socialist cause. As a young man he wrote Manassas, a novel addressing the struggle over chattel slavery in America during the Civil War era. Fred D. Warren, editor of the Socialist weekly, Appeal to Reason, read Manassas and was greatly impressed by its power. He

5 Floyd Dell, Upton Sinclair: A Study in Social Protest 108 (1927).

6 Upton Sinclair, The Autobiography of Upton Sinclair 113 (1962) [Hereinafter Autobiography].

7 Dell, supra note 5, at 121.


asked Sinclair whether he would be interested in writing a piece for the weekly about the "wage slavery" then prevalent throughout the industrial United States. Sinclair agreed to do so for five hundred dollars and the serial rights to this piece which eventually evolved into The Jungle.8 This offer must have been quite an honor for Sinclair since he was not yet a well-known author and Appeal to Reason was the "[miost famous of all the freelance socialistic periodicals."9 This journal had been founded J. A. Wayland in Girard, Kansas on August 31, 1895.10 Sinclair's themes in The Jungle would fit well into this publication's goals since "[t]he paper's basic causes were government ownership of all means of production and distribution, and direct rather than representative legislation."~1

Sinclair's fateful choice of the Chicago meat packing industry as the setting of his wage slavery critique was completely unrelated to any concerns about contamination in the nation's food supply. Nor is there any basis for believing the explanation set forth in The Independent in a 1906 review of The Jungle that "it was Mr. Sinclair's literary nature which caused him to lay the scene of this book around the dumping-holes of Chicago," a nature which "leads him to settle upon what is abnormal, painful, decayed."'2 Rather, it was the failure of the meat packing workers' 1904 strike which sparked Sinclair's interest in this location and industry. 13 He had written a piece, "You Have Lost the Strike," about this event and thus had had some exposure to the packing industry.'4 In addition, in the process of researching

8 Autobiography, supra note 6, at 108.

9 4 Frank Luther Mott, A History of American Magazines: 1885 - 1905, at 205 (1957).

'0 1d.

11 Id.

12 Literature; The Jungle, The Independent, Mar. 29, 1906, at 740 [hereinafter The Independent].

'3 Young, supra note 3, at 221.

'4 Autobiography, supra note 6, at 108 - 9.


for this piece he had made several Socialist contacts in Chicago who could help him in investigating the industry in greater detail. 15

Sinclair traveled to the packing plants in October of 1904. He remained there for seven weeks, living with the plant workers. During the day he would wander through the yards collecting data. At night, the workers told him stories of their lives and of their plight. He did not limit his information sources to workers, but rather spoke with "lawyers, doctors, dentists, nurses, policemen, real-estate agents- every sort of person."'6 The working conditions and the life stories of the workers shocked Sinclair enormously. He later wrote of his time in the packing yards, "I went about, white-faced and thin, partly from undernourishment, partly from horror" at this huge "fortress of oppression."'7

Sinclair was uncertain whether his extreme reaction was in part due to his relative unfamiliarity with the necessary lack of niceties in packing yards generally. Adolphe Smith, however, confirmed Sinclair's disgust.18 Smith was a journalist for a well-known British Medical Magazine, The Lancet, whose entire career consisted of studying and reporting on world-wide slaughter-house conditions. According to Sinclair, Smith condemned the Chicago Packing Yards as "unspeakable and abominable, worthy of the dark Ages."'9 In fact, he informed Sinclair that he had never before encountered such complete indifference to sanitation and to human consideration."ZO

On Christmas day of 1904, Sinclair left the packing yards and retired to a small cabin he had built in the New York Countryside the winter before and

'5 1d. at 110.

'6 1d at 109.

'7 Id.

18 Young, supra note 3, at 223.

19 Upton Sinclair, The Condemned Meat Industry, Everybody's Magazine, May 1906, at

608, 614 [hereinafter The Condemned Meat Industry].

20 Young, supra note 3, at 223.


began to write The Jungle. He wrote for three months straight, took a break, and then continued to write throughout the spring and summer.21

The story of The Jungle revolves around a Lithuanian immigrant family lured by the Chicago packing industry's misleading advertisements to leave their homeland in hopes of finding a better future in the United States. The family migrates to Chicago only to have their dreams shattered upon seeing the dismal state of the city and its workers. We follow the family through the marriage of the hero, Jurgis, to Ona, his innocent, frail and trusting wife. Although this couple and their relatives begin their lives in Chicago with an optimistic and determined work ethic, each of them breaks down within a few years. Jurgis' father dies of saltpetre poisoning, which he presumably contracted at work by the chemical's on the cellar floor eating through his boots and seeping through his skin. After having been forced into prostitution by her boss, Ona eventually dies while delivering a child as a result of the family's being too poor to afford much needed medical assistance. Jurgis then becomes blacklisted from employment and is sent to prison for striking Ona's boss. By the time he is released, the family has been evicted from their home, a home for which they had been swindled into paying exorbitantly high mortgage payments to keep from losing. Sinclair then exposes the reader to Chicago's seedy underground network as Jurgis leaves his remaining relatives, turns to crime and experiences first hand the graft and politicking which controlled the city. Finally, having convinced us that there is no hope left for God-forsaken Chicago, Sinclair leads us through Jurgis' discovery of Socialism, the shining hope for saving industrial America.

21 Autobiography, supra note 6, at 112.


The Jungle was quite popular in the Socialist Appeal to Reason, which published an unfinished version of Sinclair's work in serial form. In fact, Sinclair received letters of praise from many of the publication's readers.22 He faced significant difficulties, however, in finding an acceptable publisher for the novel in book form. The Macmillan Company, for example, offered to publish the text, but only on the condition that Sinclair cut out some of the more graphic, "blood and guts" passages. Sinclair, unrelenting in his Socialist crusade, refused to make such an edit, writing later, "I had to tell the truth, and let people make of it what they could."23 Four other publishers also rejected The Jungle. The famous Socialist writer Jack London, however, called The Jungle "the Uncle Tom 's Cabin of wage slavery," and bid Socialists to support the book. 24

Walter H. Page, of Doubleday, Page finally accepted the novel, publishing it on February 18, 1906. Before publication, Doubleday, Page sent an attorney, Thomas H. McKee, to conduct a private investigation of Sinclair's claims. In Chicago, McKee witnessed much of what Sinclair described in The Jungle, including the use of condemned tubercular meat to make lard for human consumption.25 Although Sinclair revised the unfinished serial version a good deal for its publication in book form, the story and themes remained essentially intact.26

The Jungle in novel form was an immediate success, bringing Sinclair instantaneous fame. It remained a best-seller in the United States and Britain

22 Appeal to Reason, February 25 - November 4, 1905.

23 Autobiography, supra note 6, at 115.

24 1d

25 The Condemned Meat Industry, supra note 19, at 609.

26 Young, supra note 3, at 224. For a detailed analysis of these changes, see Suk Bong Suh, Literature, Society, and Culture: Upton Sinclair and The Jungle 137-63 (1986) (unpublished University of Iowa dissertation).


for over six months and was quickly translated into seventeen languages.27 Over twenty-five thousand copies were sold within the first six weeks of publication and it is estimated that more than a million Americans had read The Jungle by the end of 1906.28 Sinclair accepted this fame in the name of his Socialist cause, claiming that he would have shunned such popularity but for the fact that his fame would allow him to have his writings published and, in that way, "the wage slaves in the giant industries of America would hear some words in their own interest."29

The instant success of The Jungle, however, cannot be attributed to any significant increase in public concern for the struggle of the industrial workers in Packingtown, much less to any heightened interest in Sinclair's beloved Socialism. This is because, rather than identifying with the dismal working conditions or the diseased and oppressed lives of the workers, the public fixed its attention on Sinclair's discussions, vivid though brief, of the contamination and adulteration of the meat leaving the packing yards, destined for public consumption throughout the country. Sinclair describes, for example, the annual event in the packing factories of emptying out barrels of accumulated waste. He explains that, "in the barrels would be dirt and rust and old nails and stale water- and cart load after cart load of it would be taken up and dumped into the hoppers with fresh meat, and sent out to the public's breakfast."30 Understandably, the public was tremendously outraged by such passages.

It is astonishing that an author like Sinclair, bent on converting the American public to Socialism, should find his fame by inflaming American

27 1d at 106.

28 Young, supra note 3, at 230.

29 Autobiography, supra note 6, at 122-123.

30 The Jungle, supra note 1.


consumers with the notion that a relatively small part of the plight of the industrial workers, working in unsanitary packing yards, might have secondary effects on the national food supply. The following analysis addresses the ways in which literary devices used in The Jungle, Sinclair's agenda in writing the novel, its changing readership and the historic context of its publication all worked in tandem to foster this unexpected alliance of the consumer class, a class produced by the capitalistic economy, being called to arms by what is at heart a political tract promoting a socialistic ideal.

Sinclair need not have gone into such graphic detail about the packing yards and the meat production process in order to communicate the failures of industrial Capitalism. Rather, he could have focused his critique more on the general effects of graft and political corruption than on the meat industry specifically. For example, he could have expanded the attention given to the real-estate agent's swindling Jurgis' family out of their home, or to the prostitution industry which thrived under Capitalism and which subjugated poor women to the domination of men from every class. His focus his images on the grisly workings of the meat production industry itself, however, makes sense tactically, given his agenda of making his readers realize the full extent both of the workers' plight and of the vile nature of industrial Capitalism.

Sinclair may have chosen to detail the meat packing process both because the queasiness it inspired in readers might make them more sympathetic to his cause and because the easy to appreciate impurities in the meat might arouse their moral righteousness about purity more generally. As Irwin and Debi Unger state of the public's response to the muckraker's


graphic revelations to the public in The Vulnerable Years: The United States, 1896-1917, "[qlueasy stomachs led to queasy minds...

Reading The Jungle, one cannot help but be nauseated by the images of putrid meat and the like. As explained in a 1906 review of The Jungle in The London Times, "IIt]he nausea that results from reading [Sinclair's] account of the processes of manufacture is only supplementary to the indignation that comes of considering the Lives of the men, women, and the children who are tortured in this Inferno (the packing yards)."32 A description of the flaws of other industries would not be as viscerally sickening as, for example, the exposure of the railroad industry's graft or shabby construction work may make a reader nervous, but would not carry with it the sickening effect which rotten flesh creates. Shocking readers with such grisly images may encourage them to transfer their negative responses onto other, perhaps less physically disgusting, aspects of both the meat industry and of Capitalism generally.

Likewise, the ease with which bad meat lends itself to being characterized as "impure," as opposed to merely "inefficient" or "poorly constructed," makes it a perfect image for inciting moral scorn. As Young explains, "[e]arlier- and still in 1906- 'pure' also had possessed another, an older, a moral, meaning as a synonym for righteous, honest."33 Images of "impurity" could thus function as a ready metaphor for larger, more philosophical or political "impurities" in the social structure. Sinclair's focus on the packing yard's and the meat's lack of purity due to the packer's Capitalist greed and carelessness was thus quite tactically wise as it could both

3t Young, supranote3, at 285.

32 "The Jungle," The London Times, Literary Supplement, June 1, 1906, at 201

[hereinafter The London Times].

33 1d. at 293.


evoke disgust at the industry itself and arouse a residual revulsion at Sinclair's primary target, the Capitalist society allowing such impurity.

Sinclair also utilized the procedure of transforming live animals into adulterated meat as a metaphor for the crushing of the stockyard workers by the Capitalist meat packing industry. In support of this metaphor, Sinclair consistently refers to the workers as animals.34 He repeatedly refers to Ona as a 'creature" or "wounded animal,"35 to Marija as a "horse,"36 and to Jurgis and the workers generally as "beasts."37 These references remind the reader of the experiences which the packing plant workers and the slaughtered animals share. Even reviewers of The Jungle seem to have been moved by such characterizations, as shown by their importation of Sinclair's metaphor between the workers and animals in the text of their reviews. For example, a May 26, 1906 The Saturday Review article refers to the workers in Packingtown just as Sinclair refers to Ona, as "creatures." This article also describes the workers as "ground down," an expression one might use in reference to a ground beef hamburger.38 Although Sinclair varies in the explicitness of the parallels between the animals and the workers, no reader

34 Sinclair resides in great company in his use of animal images to present the relationship between the working classes and various structural hierarchies oppressing them. Perhaps most notably, George Orwell's Animal Farm traces the transformation of a community-oriented brethren of animals on a farm into a Capitalistic hierarchy no better than the human structure they had previously escaped. Likewise, Franz Kafka's famed "Metamorphosis" revolves around the dehumanization of a drone-like bureaucrat who wakes up one morning only to find that his isolation in society has increased even more since he has transformed into an ill-identified bug resembling a cockroach whom no one can understand or relate to. Similarly, Mikhail Bulgakov's novel, Heart of a Dog, is replete with canine images, revealing that the social structure of Communist Moscow fosters aggression, criminal activity, graft and general corruption.

35 The Jungle, supra note 1, at 2, 127, 167.

36 1d. at 8,124.

37 1d. at 151,159,168,189,201,274,361,367.

38 The Saturday Review, May 26, 1906, at 660.


could help but recognize and be astonished by the plethora of the gruesome similarities.

First, both the animals and the stock yard workers are brought to Chicago from ideal lands quite unlike the packing yards. Sinclair describes the city as being a completely unnatural environment for the immigrant workers. Stressing the natural environment of their Lithuanian existence, Sinclair explains that Jurgis and his father had survived for decades as they "dwelt in the forest together."39 His father could master the trials of facing nature, but died soon after being exposed to the torments of the unfamiliar industrial packing yards. Jurgis' wife was similarly unfit for the corruption of packing industry as she too, "was falling into a habit of silence- Ona, who had once gone about singing like a bird."~ Upon her death Jurgis recalls Ona "as he had seen her in Lithuania, the first day at the fair, beautiful as the flowers, singing like a bird."41 The packing yards, in contrast, are a completely artificial environment for immigrant workers, an environment which drains the nature-filled life out of those unable to adapt.

The pens in which the cattle and pigs were kept before slaughter were also unlike the animals' natural setting, which presumably would not have induced disease as these closed conditions did. Nature more generally also decayed and perished in the packing yards and surrounding areas. Jurgis' family witnesses this by noticing the increasing death of the wildlife surrounding them as they approach the industrial city by train. Sinclair accentuates this death of nature, stating that "the grass seemed to grow less green... the colors of things became dingier; the fields were grown parched

39 The Jungle, supra note 1, at 92.

40 1d. at 162.

41 1d. at 230.


and yellow, the landscape hideous and bare."42 The industrial city was an unnatural setting for the workers, the livestock and even landscape, and anything which could not adapt to industrial conditions died.

Sinclair further reveals that the similarities between the workers and the livestock were not simply an unfortunate reality of industry, but rather were tools which Capitalist America thrived upon and profited from. The industry gained greatly from the characteristics the workers shared with the live stock. For example, the meat packing industry profited from both the livestock's and the workers' unconsciousness of their fates in the factories. Sinclair states of the cattle that, "it was quite uncanny to watch them, pressing on to their fate, all unsuspicious- a very river of death."43 The cattle would not have continued to obey the packers' directional signals had they realized that they were walking directly to their deaths.

Similarly, the packing plants "squeezed [the workers] tighter and tighter, speeding them up and grinding them to pieces and sending for new ones" from another unsuspecting immigrant pool." The packing industry relied on the immigrants' oblivion to their fates to maintain this never-ending line of bodies eagerly waiting to replace any worker who could not keep pace. The packing industry promoted the immigrants' animal-like misunderstanding of their futures in America by spreading word in the workers' home countries of the high salaries in the United States; "it was only when it was too late that the poor people found out that everything else was higher (in price) too."45 The packers also neglected to inform these hopeful travelers of the difficulty in obtaining and keeping jobs. Thus it was

42 1d at 28.

43 1d. at 38.


45 1d. at 79.


~Id. at 399. 47 1d. at 117.

only the industrial packers' deceiving the workers which allowed them to "[grind] the bodies and souls of human beings into dollars."'~ This type of deception in the name of increasing worker productivity and profits vividly illustrates the dehumanization of the worker under a capitalistic regime and the packers' incentives to profit from such a human tragedy.

The parallels between the livestock up for slaughter and the workers in the yards does not end at their both being unwittingly manipulated by the packers into complying with the industry's demands. Rather, as Sinclair illustrates in horrid detail, the very bodies of the workers often wound up being combined with animal flesh and transformed into the meat product exported to the public. Sinclair calls attention to this horror, revealing that for the men who,

worked in tank-rooms full of steam, and in some of which there were open vats near the level of the floor, their peculiar trouble was that they fell into the vats; and when they were fished out, there was never enough left of them to be worth exhibiting- sometimes they would be overlooked for days, till all but the bones of them had gone out to the world as Durham's Pure Leaf Lard!47

This image is a perfect illustration of two of Sinclair's beliefs about Capitalism; first, that under industrial Capitalism the workers lives are necessarily, though usually less graphically, sacrificed to the industry's product, and second, that the effects of Capitalism infect the entire society as a middle class consumer may have on his plate the body of a factory worker.

The final chapters of The Jungle clarify two additional benefits of Sinclair's focusing quite explicitly on the gruesome details of meat production. First, as Sinclair informs us through the voice of his character


48 Id at 409.

49 1d.

50 1d.

Dr. Schliemann, "it has been proven that meat is unnecessary as a food; and meat is obviously more difficult to produce than vegetable food, less pleasant to prepare and handle, and more likely to be unclean."48 This revelation makes the suffering of the workers in the packing fields seem even more tragic and unjustifiable since their efforts are in fact being wasted on the production of a food product which is less wholesome than other nutritious alternatives. In addition, Sinclair's statement debunks the wide-spread presumption that the meat packing industry was a necessary evil. Given that this industry was one of the primary forces oppressing the working class, such a debunking leads the reader to ask whether or not any other presumptions we might have about the necessity of such a working class might likewise be incorrect.

Second, Sinclair promotes his Socialist agenda by having Dr. Schliemann posit that,

[s]o long as we have wage slavery, ... it matters not in the least how debasing and repulsive a task may be, it is easy to find people to perform it. But just as soon as labor is set free, then the price of such work will begin to rise. So one by one the old, dingy, and unsanitary factories will come down....49

This passage indicates that it is Socialism which would allow us to see the value of products more clearly and thus give us adequate information to decide rationally which industries should be maintained. This is because, under Socialism, "eventually those who want to eat meat will have to do their own killing- and how long do you think the custom would survive then? "50 Sinclair's choice to discuss the filth of the meat industry was thus


51 Id. at 161.

52 1d

quite tactical, both because this industry and its horrors are revealed as unnecessary and hence unforgivable and because Sinclair could hold Socialism up as the process by which we can discover the uselessness of such industries.

Even accepting the benefits of Sinclair's focus on the meat packing industry addressed above, however, his motivation for writing some particularly disturbing passages about the food supply remains initially unclear. Though infrequent and certainly of at most secondary concern, Sinclair's passages about the contamination of the nation's food supply are quite pointed and graphic. He exposes adulteration in the ham production process, for example, stating that bad meat returned from Europe would be "doused with borax and glycerine, and dumped into the hoppers, and made over again for home consumption."5 ' Even more explicitly, Sinclair reveals that,

[t]here would be meat stored in great piles in rooms; and the water from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it. It was too dark in these storage places to see well, but a man could run his hand over these piles of meat and sweep off handfuls of the dried dung of rats. These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go into the hoppers together.52

Sinclair's single goal of promoting his Socialist agenda makes it difficult to discern his motivation for writing passages such as this which would obviously shift any reader's interest away from the worker's plight at least temporarily to the possibility that the sausage he ate for breakfast might have included some of these hidden rodent treats.


53 1d.

54 1d. at 138.

55 1d. at 139.

Sinclair, however, seems in fact to have wanted his readers to consider the contamination described above quite seriously. This intent is indicated by his emphasizing that these accusations are accurate and not fictive, warning the reader directly after the above excerpt that "[t]his is no fairy story and no joke... . "~ An investigation into Sinclair's understanding of Capitalism and its by-products as set forth in the final chapters of The Jungle, reveals possible rationales for his addressing food adulteration so graphically.

By calling attention to the pervasiveness of food adulteration Sinclair demonstrates one more way in the industrial giants deceptively hold down the working class. This is revealed by the horrifying effects of food adulteration on the Jurgis' family. Sinclair claims of the family's inability to live on their income that, "[t]hey might have done it, if only they could have gotten pure food, and at fair prices.. .. ~ Sinclair stresses that it was not only the workers' poverty which led to their lack of adequate food. Rather, he explains of the family's food experiences, "[t]hey had always been accustomed to eat a great deal of smoked sausage, and how could they know that what they bought in America was not the same- that its color was made by chemicals, and its smoky flavor by more chemicals, and that it was full of potato flour' besides?"55 Potato flour, we are then informed, contains absolutely no nutritional value. Thus Sinclair reveals that it was in large part the food industry's deception about the adulteration of certain foods which allowed it to undermine the workers' expectations of food value and made it impossible for them to discern which products were nutritious. Sinclair illustrates the tragic effects of consumption of contaminated products by having one of the family's children die with the explanation that the sausage


56 Id at 150.

57 1d. at 162.

58 1d.at404.

he had eaten earlier may have been made of some "tubercular pork that was condemned as unfit for export."56 This infiltration of the industrial giants into the workers' food supply demonstrates the pervasiveness of their power, a power so strong as to take over even the most intimate and basic aspects of human existence, the breaking of bread and sharing of food.

Sinclair makes it clear, however, that food contamination was by no means limited to distribution of bad products to the lower classes. Rather, many of his passages about food impurities point out that the finished product will be shipped nation wide to be consumed by every member of the public. Even the rich who could afford to spend more to avoid contamination cannot escape the corruption of the packing industry. Sinclair accentuates this reality by revealing that all of the contaminated sausage in one packing yard "came out in the same bowl, but when they came to wrap it they would stamp some of it 'special,' and for this they would charge two cents more a pound."57

One reason for revealing that the horrors of the meat industry has secondary effects on the general public may have been to illustrate to the reader that the effects of Capitalism, here represented by the bad meat, unavoidably invade and taint the home of every American. Sinclair believed that "imitation and adulteration are the essence of competition"58 and that competition is the essence of Capitalism. It therefore seems appropriate that he employs the proliferation of contaminated meat as a metaphor for Capitalism's effects on society more generally. In demonstrating that no one is safe from the disease and decay effectuated by the meat industry, Sinclair demonstrates the destructive omnipresence of


59 Dell, supra note 5, at 105.

Capitalism. Perhaps Sinclair hoped that once his readers realized that they themselves were unavoidably part of this Capitalist monster, that their disgust of being associated with such filth and oppression could function as a call to action. The public's bad meat could serve as a constant reminder of the plight of the packing yard workers whose entire lives were effectively "contaminated" in various ways. In addition, perhaps the presence of the byproducts of Capitalism in everyone's homes could create a common enemy against which the entire nation, not just the working class, had reason to rebel.

Given the literary benefits described above of using images of animals, meat products and the grisly process of meat production and adulteration, it would seem that Sinclair's choice to invoke these images would effectively communicate and accentuate his Socialist ideals to those reading his text. In fact, Sinclair was quite effective in communicating the sufferings of the workers in the industrial era to his original intended audience, as shown by The Jungle's immediate popularity among the readers of the Appeal to Reason. The following investigation of The Jungle's shifting audiences and of the historical context of the novel's publication reveals possible explanations for the text's unexpected effects on the general public and President Roosevelt.

An analysis of the distinctions between the readership of the Appeal to Reason and that of The Jungle in novel form suggests one explanation for the enormous and unanticipated popular response to this Socialist novel. The readership of the Appeal to Reason consisted primarily of disgruntled workers and farmers.59 Sinclair refers to this weekly in the text of The Jungle as "a 'propaganda' paper. .. for the benefit of the 'American working-


mule'. "60 This proletariat readership was keyed in to the plight of oppressed workers since they themselves were either part of this class or were not much better off. As Floyd Dell explains, this readership "understood the truths of human suffering." They would thus presumably be drawn to the aspects of the novel relating most directly to their own experiences and interests, the tragedy of the comprehensive oppression of the working class under capitalistic industry and the possibility of reform through a transition to Socialism.61 This is the precise message which Sinclair wanted his readers to walk away with.

Sinclair's references to the side effects which the filthy and contaminated working conditions had on the food supply was presumably not of primary concern to this original proletariat readership. This is because their own working conditions were most likely unsanitary as well and thus they had already grown personally accustomed to the filth and contamination accompanying industrialization generally and had no reason to be surprised by the fact that this ever-present contamination had worked its way into the food supply. In addition, the proletariat readership's experiences in their own places of work had quite likely left them completely unmoved by the idea that along with unregulated, Capitalist industrialization came an increase in the intentional adulteration of products which would raise the industry's profits and allow companies to remain intact under the pressures of competition. Sinclair thus succeeded in drawing notice and support for his Socialist crusade from the audience which he wrote the novel for, the readers of the Appeal to Reason, who were presumably not distracted from his political vision by the proliferation of the hazards of industry into the food supply.

60 The Jungle, supra note 1, at 391.

6t Dell, supra note 5, at 105.


The readership of The Jungle in book form, however, was a far cry from that of the Appeal to Reason. The late nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century marked the birth of the consumer movement throughout the United States. By 1906, Richard Hofstadter asserts in The Age of Reform, "the urban consumer first stepped forward as a serious and self-conscious factor in American social politics."62 During this "great middle-class reform movement," the general public was exposed to the disillusioning "inside workings of Wall Street.. . of municipal corruption... of Standard ~... [and] of Beef Trust ~~ce.... "63 More to the point, the American public demonstrated an elevated concern with food adulteration as early as the late 1870s. Legislative history reflects this concern as, between 1890 and 1906, at least fifty-six pure food bills had been considered by Congress. 64

Dr. Harvey W. Wiley played a large role this increase in the public's and the legislature's awareness of the potential dangers in food products. By the time Wiley became the Chief Chemist of the USDA Division of Chemistry in 1883, the division was already involved in a significant investigation of the adulteration of food and drugs begun by Wiley's predecessor, Peter Collier.65 Wiley, however, dramatically expanded efforts to determine potential health hazards and economic adulteration in the nation's food supply, becoming somewhat of a crusader against all forms of adulteration.'6

'2 Young, supra note 3, at 278.

63 Dell, supra note 5, At 109.

64 Donna Wood, Strategic Uses of Public Policy; Business and Government in the Progressive Era 9 (1986).

65 Peter Barton Hutt & Peter Barton Hutt II, A History of Government Regulation of Adulteration and Misbranding of Food, 39 Food Drug Cosm. U. 2, 5 1(1984).

66 Id.


Under Wiley, the Division of Chemistry conducted the "poison squad" experiments for determining the risks associated with food additives. In this dramatic experiment,, "La] 'poison squad' of 12 USDA employees acted as human subjects to test the safety of boric acid and borax, salicylic acid and salicylates, sulfurous acids and sulfites, benzoic acids and benzoates, and formaldehyde, during 1902 - 1904."67 The resultant reports understandably caught the attention of the public as they indicated that consumption of each of these substances contributed to health problems.68 Although Wiley did address the potential problems with canned meat and thus potentially kept the public's attention on the embalmed beef scandal, meat was far from the central focus of his condemnation.69 Nonetheless, his test results surely placed the emerging American consumer class on notice that even their most basic foods, including meat, might be hiding unseen contamination.

Wiley also addressed two of the specific issues Sinclair struggles with in The Jungle, economic adulteration and mislabeling. As discussed above, both of these phenomenon compiled the harm of the food supply to the workers and others. Wiley thought that the country needed protection from far more than simply the dangers of preservatives. In fact, he "believed that all food coloring, preservatives, and nonnutritive sweeteners resulted in economic adulteration of the food supply. He therefore attacked them both as inherently deceptive and unsafe."70 Wiley even included the use of saccharin in his attacks.71 He also demonstrated great concern with the fact that the public lacked the information it needed to make wise food purchasing decisions. This concern is demonstrated through his advocacy of relatively

67 Id.

68 Id.

69 Young, supra note 3, at 228.

70 Hutt, supra note 65, at 55.

71 Id. at 56.


72 Id.

strict accuracy in food labeling. He wanted corn syrup, for example, to be labeled "glucose" rather than simply "corn syrup."72 Wiley helped to introduce the public and the legislature to potential deception in the food marketplace, a deception which later played a fundamental role in Sinclair's critique of the packing industry. Wiley's work thus primed the consumer class to watch out for signs of consumer deception, such as those contained in The Jungle.

Members of the consumer movement, the American middle-class, presumably constituted the balance of the readership of The Jungle in its book form. Once word spread that the novel exposed the meat packers' contamination of the meat supply in graphic detail, consumers would read it, looking out for Sinclair's accusations, regardless of how they felt about the dismal and diseased lives of the packing yard workers. That these accusatory passages were of secondary importance to Sinclair, merely helping him to communicate the larger social problem of the pervasive nature of the industrial greed, would make no difference to this consumer audience. Even if many of these readers were in fact quite moved by the plight of the fictional workers presented in the novel, Sinclair's shocking and extremely graphic revelations about the packing industry would presumably jolt their attention back to the effect of such contamination on their food in real life. Fictional characters can be forgotten once a novel is set down on a bedside table; images of ones dinner consisting of mutilated human beings doused with borax, however, are the things of which recurring nightmares are made. The readers of The Jungle in book form thus consisted in large part of a newly emerging consumer class sparked by their fears about food purity into reading Sinclair's novel. His Socialist message was lost on such an audience, or at


least was not convincing enough to overcome the readers' disgust and fear about the food supply.

Ironically, the meat packers themselves increased the public's focus on Sinclair's allegations of contaminated meat proliferation. Immediately after The Jungle was published, J. Ogden Armour, one of the "great packer[sl," wrote a series of eight responses to the novel in the Saturday Evening Post.73 Although he did not identify The Jungle by title, he "referred in dignified fashion to the unscrupulous attacks upon his great business, which was noble in all its motives and turned out products free from every blemish."74 This response, though written to clear Armour's packing plant of wrongdoing, in effect backfired by directing even more public attention specifically toward Sinclair's criticisms of the contamination of food sent out to the public.

In attempting to clear the name of Armour's packing industry, Armour unwittingly inspired Sinclair to strike out with a pointed venom against the contamination of food in the packing yards. As discussed above, in Th e Jungle Sinclair addressed the effects of the packing yard horrors on the food supply only as a secondary issue. Armour's articles, however, infuriated Sinclair, leaving him "boiling." Armour's accusing him of lying about these conditions forced Sinclair to move the contaminated meat issue to the foreground of his critique and to respond to Armour's lies directly. He began an immediate response to Armour's claims and within one night had written an eight- thousand- word reply entitled 'The Condemned Meat Industry."75

~ Young, supra note 3, at 230-3 1. According to Young, the Saturday Evening Post published eight articles written by Armour during this time. These articles can now be found in the book, The Packers, the Private Car Lines, and the People (Philadelphia, 1906).

74 Autobiography, supra note 6, at 116- 117.

75 1d.; The Condemned Meat Industry, supra note 19.


In this article Sinclair attacked the meat packing industry, and Mr. J. Ogden Armour individually, even more vehemently than before. For example, in accusing Armour of lying in his denial of food contamination, Sinclair wrote, "I know for a fact that Mr. Armour is the master at Armour & Co.'s, and that he knows everything that goes on there."76 The following morning Sinclair took this response to Everybody's Magazine. The periodical accepted "The Condemned Meat Industry" immediately, offering Sinclair eight hundred dollars for it.~ Before publication, Sinclair justified everything written in this response to Armour to two lawyers from the magazine78

Armour was in for much more than he bargained for when he wrote his false denial of Sinclair's accusations. Sinclair had not founded his criticisms solely on the basis of his own experiences in Chicago. Rather, he had learned the stories of others, including that of Mr. Thomas F. Dolan, a former foreman from Armour's killing beds. While working at Armour's, Dolan had been in favor with Armour, presumably as a result of Armour's belief that Dolan could have cattle killed more quickly than any other supervisor. Armour demonstrated this esteem for Dolan by giving him both a gold watch and a valuable pin.79 Sinclair possessed a sworn affidavit by Dolan stating, for example, "I have seen as much as forty pounds of flesh afflicted with gangrene cut from the carcass of a beef, in order that the rest of the animal might be utilized in trade."W Sinclair also had Dolan's affidavit swearing that Armour's had bribed him with five thousand dollars to retract this story.

76 1d at 608.

~ Young, supranote3, at 117.

78 Id.

~ The Condemned Meat Industzy supra note 19, at 610.

80 Id. at 611.


81 Id. at616.

82 Id.

83 1d

In addition, Sinclair had evidence of Armour's adulteration of meat which did not depend on the testimony of any witnesses. Sinclair had the incriminating court records of the packers', including Armour's', guilty pleas to selling adulterated meats. For example, in Pennsylvania Armour had pled guilty to selling "preserved" minced ham and later, on June 16, 1905, he had pled guilty to selling adulterated "blockweirst."81 Sinclair concluded "The Condemned Meat Industry" by informing the public of these criminal records by asking, "[why] should Mr. Armour be let off with fines which are of less consequence to him than the price of a postage stamp to you and me, instead of going to jail like other convicted criminals who do not happen to be millionaires?"82

As Sinclair later wrote, his article "made a marvelous companion piece to Mr. Armour's canned literature in the Saturday Evening Post. "83 In writing The Jungle, Sinclair had not intended to strike out specifically against the contamination of the food supply, but Armour's article gave him no choice but to defend what he did mention about such contamination with all of the evidence available to him, thus bringing Armour's and the other packing yards under even greater public scrutiny.

The public's pre-existing anger at the meat packing industry may also have increased The Jungle 's readership's focus on the contamination of the food supply. Even before The Jungle was published, the American public had a bone to pick with the meat packing industry as a result of the recent substantial increases in the price of meat. Charles Edward Russell has attributed the packers' formation of The National Packing Company with


their ability to implement this price hikeY"~ In addition, the public presumably still harbored some mistrust of the meat industry as a result of the "embalmed beef" scandal which had killed more United States troops than enemy fire.85 The readers of The Jungle were thus predisposed by the historical context of the novel to concentrate on Sinclair's analysis of the food supply.

Literary reviews of The Jungle written upon the novel's publication illustrate the literary elite's mixed responses to the text. These critiques vary greatly in their assessments of The Jungle's accuracy, its literary merit, its thematic focus and its concluding Socialist tract.

With good reason, early reviews of The Jungle stressed whether Sinclair's descriptions of food contamination and of the workers' plight were accurate condemnations of Packingtown. Before Sinclair's facts had been verified by a subsequent government investigation, one reviewer wrote that Sinclair "lacks judgment, and has always been disposed to exceed the truth in the violence of him effort to tell it" and that "there may be some mitigating circumstances connected with the horrors he describes, but he does not admit one."8~ A reviewer for The Literary Digest similarly noted that 'lirleviewers are dubious about how seriously his novel is to be taken."87

After the results of the investigation were made known to the public on May 28 and 29, 1906, however, reviewers' faith in Sinclair's accuracy increased.88 For example, one commentator based his belief in Sinclair's

84 Young, supra note 3, at 226.

85 The Jungle, supra note 1, at 114.

86 The Independent, supra note 12, at 740.

87 Latest Phase of the Socialist Novel, The Literary Digest, May 5, 1906 at 679 [hereinafter The Literary Digest].

88 As discussed later, Sinclair informed The New York Times reporters of the details of what Neill and Reynolds had told him about their findings. The New York Times published articles about these findings on May 28 and 29, 1906. Young, supra note 3, at 240.


accuracy on the investigation's results, writing in a June 1, 1906 review, 'iiu]nhappily, we have good reason for believing [The Jungle] to be all fact, not fiction. The action of the President, who sent commissioners to inquire into the truth or falsehood of Mr. Sinclair's statements, and the known tenour of the commissioners' reply remove all doubt, and give the book very great importance."89 Likewise, a May 16, 1906 critique in The Saturday Review foresaw the effect Sinclair's accuracy would have on the American public, stating that, "[t]he admirers of American enterprise and of American Trust Millionaires would do well to read 'The Jungle,' a most terrible and convincing indictment of the infamous methods by which those millions are extorted." ~

Even those critics who praised Sinclair for his accuracy and ability to raise public awareness, however, admitted that the novel exhibited little literary merit according to contemporary standards of artistic excellence. A reviewer for The Independent, for example, asserted that "the wedding feast, with which the story begins, ... is (from the standpoint of literary art) the only part of the book by which it can claim to the title of a 'novel' •••~"91 This critic continued by positing that "the Jungle [sic!] is really a socialist tract, and not a novel at all."92 It was thus the reality of Sinclair's exposition that was believed to give the book merit. As a critic for The London Times wrote in a June 1, 1906 critique, "IIb]y its truth or its untruths the story stands or falls."93

Even if The Jungle were a great literary text, critics would have remained mixed in their degrees of enthusiasm at its publication. This is because reviewers disagreed as to the public usefulness of a novel such as Th e

89 London Times, supra note 32, at 201.

90 The Saturday Review, supra note 38, at 660.

91 The Independent, supra note 12, at 740.

92 Id. at 741.

~ The London Times, supra note 32, at 201.


Jungle. One review, for example, claimed that, "[bluried in a Blue-book, the revelation might have passed unnoticed; published in this form, it will be recognized far and wide for what it is -a most important sociological document; and the practical effect of it should be great."94 Other commentators offered a more reserved endorsement of the book, writing, for example, that "The Jungle may do some harm; also, it will surely do much good."95 A New York Times review likewise stated that The Jungle, "is a horrible book, but it is also a book which current history indicates will produce a great public benefit."~ In sharp contrast, however, a critic for The Literary Times focused on the statement by a writer for The Evening Post proposing that "[flew social results are likely to follow the socialist novel. There is not enough genuine compassion in it to make it persuasive. The mere accumulation of horrors has never been an argument for anything but for the restraint of morbid curiosity."97 Thus, even had The Jungle been written in Dicken's prose, Sinclair would still have received varied critical reviews.

Reviewers also differed in their treatment of Sinclair's concluding Socialist tract. A writer for The Saturday Review appears to have sympathized with Sinclair's views, stating that "Russian exactions are naive and moderate compared with the legalized tyranny practised in the working places of Chicago." This writer remained dissuaded from Socialism, however, explaining that "[i]t is not to be marveled that Mr. Sinclair closes his book with violent tirades against the tyranny of capital, and with the fervid preaching of a somewhat impracticable socialism."98 Other critics, however,

~ Id.

~ The Independent, supra note 12, at 741.

96 N.Y. Times, June 16, 1906.

~ The Literary Digest, supra note 87, at 680. 98 The Saturday Review, supra note 38, at 660.


were less sympathetic to Sinclair's Socialist tract. A reviewer for The London Times, for example, dismissed Sinclair's Socialist conclusion as a manifesto. This critic mitigated this dismissal, however, writing that "the close cannot- it is not intended to- take away the taste of what went before."99 Sinclair, in contrast, presumably believed that his final chapters illustrated the natural and logical continuation of his earlier depiction of the gruesome packing industry, an industry which he would convince others of the necessity of the Socialist philosophy spelled out in this culminating manifesto.

As explained above, Sinclair's focus on the meat industry as a vehicle for communicating the evils of Capitalism, combined with the historical context of the novel's publication and the character and mood of its audience, all culminated to ignite a large-scale public reaction against the meat packing industry. Sinclair's choice to reveal the impurities of the factories and their products as a call to Socialism had effectively been transformed into a symbol of the new American consumer class' concern about the quality of products available on the market. This irony was by no means limited to Sinclair's nebulous relationship to the public at large. Rather, the tension and dynamics arising between these strange bedfellows of a Socialist activist and a Capitalistic and consumer oriented society also played themselves out through the relationship between President Roosevelt and Sinclair, beginning with the investigations of Packingtown instigated by the novel.

Just as the American public had, President Roosevelt's used Sinclair for his ability to unmask the impurities in the national food supply while simultaneously rejecting quite adamantly the Socialist agenda which had inspired Sinclair to portray the meat industry with such vigor and gore. Upon its publication, Sinclair sent President Roosevelt a copy of his novel,

~ The London Times, supra note 32, at 201.


presumably as an opportunity to convince him of the scope and pervasiveness of the oppression of the industrial worker. Roosevelt

responded to Sinclair that Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson was investigating the charges through the Department of Agriculture •100

Sinclair replied to Roosevelt with full force, advising the president through "a barrage of letters and telegrams" about the best methods for investigating the packing plants.'01 Sinclair recognized that the Department of Agriculture was itself an integral part of the structure of graft and shabby inspection which ruled Chicago and was thus unimpressed with this format of investigation. He communicated these sentiments to Roosevelt, writing to him that such self- investigation "was like asking a burglar to determine his own guilt."102 Sinclair stressed the importance of Roosevelt's sending an independent investigator to assess the veracity of The Jungle's allegations against the packing industry. 103

Sinclair's arguments and experience in the industry convinced Roosevelt to follow the author's advice. The president thus wrote to Secretary Wilson, "I would like a first-class man to be appointed to meet Sinclair, as he suggests; get the names of witnesses, as he suggests; and then go to work in the industry, as he 104 Wilson selected Charles P. Neill and James B. Reynolds, as the "absolutely secret" investigators sent to infiltrate the packing plants.105 Neill was the Commissioner of Labor and had earlier assisted the president with other "social-welfare 106

t00 Autobiography, supra note 6, at 118.

t01 Young, supra note 3, at 232.

'02 Id. at 232; Autobiography, supra note 4, at 118.

103 Young, supra note 3, at 232.

104 Id. at 232 - 33 (quoting a letter from Roosevelt to James Wilson, March 12 and 22,

1906, Roosevelt Papers).

105 1d. at 233.

'06 Id


Furthermore, Neill was familiar with the Packingtown because he had formerly lived in this area in the University of Chicago Settlement House.'~ Reynolds, in contrast, was a New York social worker who had formerly been secretary to the city's mayor.'08

Roosevelt summoned Sinclair to Washington to meet both with him and members of his "tennis cabinet."'09 The president requested that Sinclair travel with Neill and Reynolds to Chicago. Sinclair, however, declined this request, later writing of his refusal, "I have never cared to repeat any work once completed.""D Although Sinclair chose not to accompany these investigators to Chicago personally, he paid a thousand dollars to send two of his more activist Socialist friends, Ella Reeve Bloor and her husband Richard Bloor, to help Neill and Reynolds make connections with the packing plant workers.11 ' Ella was a well-known lecturer for the Socialist cause who had previously written about the packing yards."2 She was also "widely known as a result of her investigations into child labor conditions.""3 Although this woman had five children, Sinclair claimed that her family obligations "never kept her from sallying forth on behalf of the cause.""4 While her husband gathered information for Neill and Reynolds from the working men, Ella spoke with the women of Packingtown in an effort to gain information the government investigators would need for their investigation."5

'07 1d.

'09 1d

110 Autobiography, supra note 6, at 120.

"'Id. at 120. Note, however, Young's claim that Ella and Richard Bloor were not married. Young further states that Ella's surname was actually Cohen but that after posing as Richard's wife during the investigation she became known as Ella Bloor. Young, supra note 3, at 233.

112 Upton Sinclair, The Brass Check 40 (Johnson Reprint Co. 1919).

"3 N.Y. Times, May 29, 1906, at 1.

114 Autobiography, supra note 6, at 120.

115 Id.


The secrecy of this investigation did not remain intact for long after the group's arrival in Chicago, most likely due to Neill's prominence. Even so, Neill's and Reynolds' oral report to Roosevelt upon their return from Chicago more than verified almost all of Sinclair's allegations. Roosevelt later summarized their description of the packing yards in one word, "revolting.""6 It was these "revolting" findings of the Neill-Reynolds investigation which would soon become one of the most influential tools both in persuading Congress to pass both The Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906 and in informing the public of the dangers in the food supply."7

Having heard Neill's and Reynold's findings, the president became convinced that meat legislation was necessary to protect the nation from bad food. The legislation which Roosevelt hoped would pass in Congress was a bill which had already been introduced by Senator Beveridge of Indiana. One source claims that Beveridge had begun drafting this bill after reading The Jungle, but before he had learned that Roosevelt had sent out the NeillReynolds investigation."8 A The New York Times article dated May 28, 1906, however, claimed that "[tihe Indiana Senator, it is safe to say, is not (the author). In fact, the errors in the bill would seem to indicate that the bill was thrown together in great haste by some one well informed on the general subject.""9

Roosevelt had wanted to keep the Neill-Reynolds findings at least temporarily confidential and unwritten. This was because the president planned to use the investigation's findings as leverage against the packing

"6 1d at 233-235.

"7 1d. at 253- 272.

118 Young, supranote 3, at 236.

119 N.Y. Times, May 28, 1906, at 2.


industry. He believed that the packers would not use their political clout to prevent the passage of meat legislation so long as they could avoid the negative publicity which would result from the publication of the NeillReynolds findings.'20 This tactic worked in part as on May 25, 1906 the "Senate passed the Meat Inspection Act with virtually no debate and no dissenting vote."121

Sinclair, however, believed that the Neill-Reynolds findings should be published immediately in order to inform the public of the horrible conditions of the Chicago workers. Legislation without public education, he believed, would be futile. In an interview for The New York Times on May 30, 1906 Sinclair explained his doubts about the efficacy of legislation alone. He claimed that, "[the] Beveridge bill will compel the packers to shunt the bad meat off into places where there are no federal inspectors. In other words, all diseased meat will now be eaten in the State where it is killed, and the public will be fooled as before."'22 Presumably Sinclair also wanted the investigation's finding to be made public because his goal was not the enactment of a food standards but rather the education of the American public about the horrible conditions of the working class.

Thus, before the House of Representatives could vote, much of the information which Neill and Reynolds had gathered had already been made public as a result of leaks to the press by both Sinclair and the Bloors. Sinclair had contacted The New York Times and had told its reporters both of his own experiences and much of what he had been told by Reynolds about the investigation's findings.'23 On May 28 and 29, 1906 The New York Times

120 Young, supra note 3, at 235 - 36.

121 Dennis R. Johnson 37 Food, Drug Cosm. U. 5, 8 (1982).

122 N.Y. Times, May 30, 1906, at 2.

123 Young, supra note 3, at 240.


made use of this information, publishing extensive and gruesome articles about Packingtown. The May 28, 1906 article, for example, quotes Sinclair as stating, "[un Armour's establishment I saw with my own eyes the doctoring of hams that were so putrefied that I could not force myself to remain near them."'24 Likewise, a May 29, 1906 The New York Times article stated that,

[tihe Bloors corroborated the report that rats polluted the meat in the sausage department, and that when they were poisoned, as they frequently were.., they went into the grindings with the rest of the meat when they happened to die in the receptacles.125

With this information spilled to the public the president lost much of the leverage he had held over the packers since they no longer had any incentive to allow the Beveridge bill to pass without a fight.

Passage in the House of Representatives thus proved more challenging. Speaker Cannon, for example, was a strong advocate of the packers and their interests. The president, however, suggested that Cannon and other legislators familiarize themselves with the facts of the NeillReynolds investigation. On May 28 these legislators met with Reynolds and orally heard all he had to say about Packinglown since there still was no official written report of the investigation's findings. Cannon was apparently quite shocked by the dismal descriptions as even he, "the man on whom [the packers] had relied to stall the Beveridge bill, was turned into one of the most radical and rampant advocates of the bill, and [would] use all the monumental power of the Speakership to rush it through."'26

Ironically, Sinclair may not have even realized the president's leverage tactics or that he had just undermined them by his disclosures to the press.

124 N.Y. Times, May 28, 1906, at 2.

125 N.Y. Times, May 29, 1906, at 2.

126 N.Y. Times, May 28, 1906, at 1.


Rather, he appears to have believed that Roosevelt would soon come around to his way of thinking, stating to a The New York Times reporter of the president, "I am confident that he will agree with me that the only way to check the evils will be to show the people just what they are up against so that they may protect themselves."lr The president, however, was furious at Sinclair for his leaking of information to the press, criticizing Sinclair in a letter to the author as being "utterly reckless" in his disclosures.'28

Sinclair's disclosures to the press, however, did facilitate his personal goal of seeing an official report of the Neill-Reynolds investigation placed before the public. On May 29, 1906, as a result of Sinclair's disclosures and the resulting loss of leverage over the packers, Roosevelt gave Neill and Reynolds forty-eight hours to write a report of their findings. This report was thorough in its gruesome descriptions of Packingtown conditions and included sections entitled, "Condition of the yards," "Buildings," "A model slaughterhouse in contrast with those of Chicago," "Treatment of meats and prepared food products," "Treatment of employees," "Government inspections," and "Legislation."'29

Roosevelt presented this report to Congress on June 4, 1906 in response to a resolution introduced by Representative John Sharp Williams requesting access to the report.'30 Along with the report the president included a personal message stating in part that the report "shows the urgent need of immediate action by the Congress in the direction of providing a drastic and thoroughgoing inspection by the Federal Government of all stock yards and packing houses and of their products. . ." and that "lit] was impossible under

117 Id. at 2.

128 Young, supra note 3, at 240.

129 Cong. Record, 59 Cong. I ses., 7800 - 7802.

130 Cong. Record, 59 Cong. I ses., 7800; Young, supra note 3, at 240.


the existing law that satisfactory work should be done by the Bureau of Animal Industry."'3 '

Even without any leverage against the packers to stop them from hindering meat legislation, the impact of the results of the Neill-Reynolds report and the dissemination of these findings to the constituencies of the legislators proved sufficient to secure the passage of Senator Beveridge's bill, The Meat Inspection Act, on June 30, 1906.132 In fact, the packers soon realized that the only way for them to survive after such a horrible public expose was through meat legislation which could reassure the public of their food's safety.'33 Ironically, the packers thus became lobbyists backing The Pure Meat Act.'~

The Beveridge bill passed as an amendment to The Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906, which also became law on this day. The main purposes of the food and drugs act was, "to proscribe dangerous foods and drugs and to prevent customer deception."'35 Hearings on the Act had finished in February, 1906 and it was passed by the Senate on February 11, 1906.~36 Until the publication of The Jungle and of the Neill-Reynolds findings, however, the proposed Act was looked upon with great disfavor by many in the House of Representatives, most notably the "strict constructionists," such as Williamson of Georgia.'37 In fact, Williamson proclaimed that, "[tihe bill

~ Cong. Record, 59 Cong. I ses., 7800.

132 The Act was reenacted as a permanent law the following year since the 1906 legislature had enacted it as only a one-year appropriation.

'~ Johnson, supranote 121, at 9.

'~ Id. at 9.

'~ Id. at 8.

~ Young, supra note 3, at 253.


should be called 'pure foolishness' instead of 'pure food'."'3~ As a result, the House committee had "tabled" the bill rather than enacting it into law.'39

The revelation of the scandalous conditions in the meat industry, however, gave the proposed food and drugs bill the vigor and backing it needed to become law.'~ The meat industry scandal had left the American voting public anxious to improve the state of the entire food industry, not just the meat sections. The president and the Congress responded to this increased demand for pure food. In this way, according to Wiley, "agitation over meat at last aroused public support for pure-food legislation."'4 ' Thus, as author Dennis R. Johnson claims, "[i]t is quite conceivable that but for one author- Upton Sinclair- this bill would have suffered the (unsuccessful) fate of its predecessors."'42

The public also gained access to the Neill-Reynolds report once it appeared before Congress. The presentation of the official report to the public, however, may not have had the dramatic effect Sinclair had hoped for. This was because the document "struck both public and Congress as somewhat deja vu" since the bulk of the information it contained had already been revealed either through newspaper articles or Sinclair's novel.'43 That this information appeared in an official government document and had been verified by public officials, however, did have a "sobering impact" which presumably led more wary Americans to believe what they had been reading in the press.'"

138 Id. at 253 (citing Cong. Record, 59 Cong. I ses., 6465).

139 Johnson, supra note 121, at 8.

~ Young, supra note 3, at 253.

'~' Id.

142 Johnson, supra note 121, at 8.

~3 Young, supra note 3, at 241.



Sinclair, seemingly vindicated by the Neill-Reynolds findings and its publication, had perhaps not recognized how greatly Roosevelt's and the public's agendas differed from his own. From the start, Roosevelt had been roused, not by Sinclair's vivid portrayal of the oppressed working class, but rather by the public, his constituency's, uproar about the putrid meat which the government allowed to enter their homes. Roosevelt's initial interest in Sinclair was presumably not due to the novel alone, but rather to the hundreds of letters which the president was receiving from the public each day in response to the author's accusations.'45

Roosevelt's personal astonishment at Sinclair's book mirrored the public's. In initially explaining his personal anger at the meat industry to Sinclair, for example, Roosevelt did not address the oppression on the working classes, but rather expressed disgust at the foul product the produced. "Mr. Sinclair," Roosevelt stated, "I bear no love for those gentlemen, for I ate the meat they canned for the army in Cuba.""~ Like the reading public, Roosevelt used Sinclair simply as a means to gain information about the contaminated meat which he and the rest of the country might have to eat.

Sinclair's goal of improving the workers' conditions and promoting Socialism was thus completely lost on the president. In fact, Roosevelt "deplored Sinclair's socialism and became exasperated with his outbursts."'47 Although Roosevelt had informed Sinclair that he had told Neill "to give me a report upon the workers just as much as upon the meats," the president's authority was limited to the condition of the meat.'48 Likewise, although Roosevelt had told Sinclair of a plan to send a separate investigator to address

t45 Autobiography, supra note 6, at 118.

'~Id. at 118.

'47 Young, supra note 3, at 234.

'48 1d at 234.


'49 1d. at 234- 235. '50 1d at 251.

the working conditions, there is no indication of such an investigation ever happening.'49 Roosevelt had no intention of promoting the Socialist cause or of aiding the author personally. In fact, in a letter written to William Allen White soon after the signing of The Meat Inspection Act, Roosevelt wrote of Sinclair,

I have an utter contempt for him. He is hysterical, unbalanced and ......... Nevertheless, in this particular crisis he was of service to us, and yet I had to explain again and again to well-meaning people that I could not afford to disregard ugly things that had been found out simply because I did not like the man who had helped in finding them out.'50

Roosevelt, like the public, had no use for Sinclair personally or for his political agenda.

Even though The Jungle is today recognized as an example of the social change that can be accomplished through a single man's unwavering efforts, such fame was of no consolation to Sinclair. His attempt to spread the belief in Socialism had failed. His effect on the national food supply was ironic and unintentional. Only the odd convergence of the historical context of the novel's reaching the public, of Sinclair's choice of the meat packing industry to reveal Capitalism's evils and of the literary devices he thought would best convey his Socialist message, could have created in such unexpected results. The very passages which aroused the public and the president into action to protect the diet of the consumer class were precisely those which Sinclair had written in order to undermine the class system completely.


at 252. at 232.

l53 Wood, supra note 64, at 66.

Of his impact on the packing yard conditions Sinclair wrote that he had, "left the wage-slaves in those huge brick packing-boxes exactly where they were before."'5 ' The 1906 food laws had been "an early victory for the emerging consumer movement," a movement which was "urban, middle-class and national."'52 For Sinclair, however, the entire adventure had been a disillusioning failure in which he had "aimed for the hearts of the American people and hit them instead in their stomachs."'53


Chapter II: Undermining the Great Sausage Maker

Yuri Karlovich Olesha's abstract novel Envy, like Sinclair's The Jungle, employed meat imagery as a vehicle for addressing the author's concerns about industrialization. Rather than condemning Capitalist industry as Sinclair had, however, Olesha used this imagery to address potential problems with the Socialist industrialization occurring in his homeland, the Soviet Union. Specifically, Olesha utilized meat imagery to question the role of the individual and of human relationships in the emerging mechanized State. These questions, however, were quickly censored out of the public's purview. Likewise, the Communist Party prevented Olesha from continuing with his rich imagery in further abstract works through its prohibition of modernist literary modes and through its persecution of writers who questioned the Party tenets. The following investigation into Olesha's life and works both flushes out some the benefits of his abstract, image-filled style and demonstrates the magnitude of the loss of literary talent resulting from the Soviet Union's censorship of this great modernist writer.

The son of Polish Catholic parents, Olesha was born in Elisavegrad, Ukraine on February 19, 1899. In 1902, he and his family moved to Odessa, the provincial yet elegant city in which he would spend the bulk of his youth. Although his father had formerly been part of the nobility, the family was by then members of the middle-class. They retained, however, the "social


ambitions and pretensions consistent with their noble affiliations."'~" In Odessa, Olesha's father worked in a vodka distillery as a government inspector. By all accounts, however, he focused his attention significantly more on card playing and alcohol than on his occupation. 155

Olesha began his education at home, where his Polish grandmother instructed him in Russian and mathematics. In 1908, he began studying at Rishelevsky Gymnasium, where he later started writing poetry inspired by the works of Alexander Blok and Igor-Severyanin. He was a model student, graduating Rishelevsky in 1917 "with a gold medal in language and literature, a perfect record or 'fives' or 'A's' and a commendation for excellent behavior."'~ Olesha remained in Odessa, studying law at the Novorossiysky University, for the next two years.'57

It was during this time that Olesha's commitment to both literature and revolutionary politics blossomed. He became increasingly involved with the city's literary scene, joining a writers' group known as "The Green Lamp," whose members included Edward Bagritsky and Valentin Kataev.'58 Politically, Olesha broke with his family's bourgeoisie loyalties, siding instead with the emerging Communist ideology. This break was not surprising. considering that Olesha had from an early age both questioned his family's middle-class values and juxtaposed these values against the prevalent

154 Yuri Olesha, No Day Without a Line, 12 (Judson Rosengrant ed. & trans., 1979) [hereinafter Rosengrant].

'~ Id. at 12.

156 Id

~ Id.


poverty, "lumping together the Victorian tastelessness of middle-class homes and the social inequities outside them: a world of conches on the mantelpiece and beggars in the doorway."'59 While still in Odessa, Olesha began to fuse these literary and ideological interests together through his involvement with a political literary group known as "The Poets' Collective."'~

In 1919, Olesha left school to volunteer for the Red Army, in which he began writing propaganda for the revolutionary cause. He wrote news articles, pamphlets and "agitational plays," all for the Bureau of Ukrainian Publications.'6 ' Olesha continued writing propaganda for this organization after his move to Kharov in 1921. In Kharov, however, he also began writing fiction, including his first published story, "The Angel."'62 Through such work, Olesha firmly established himself as a revolutionary supporter. This overt manifestation of his ideological stance demonstrated an even more dramatic break from his family and their bourgeois beliefs, beliefs which would later cause his parents to flea to Poland.'~

In 1922, Olesha moved to Moscow and began work stuffing envelops for The Whistle, a Socialist railway journal. Although he had formed literary connections in Odessa, his move to Moscow required him to begin his literary career anew, working initially in a clerical capacity. Soon after his arrival,

158 Id.

~ Andrew MacAndrew, Introduction to Yuri Olesha, Envy and Other Works by Yuri Olesha at vii (Andrew MacAndrew trans., 1967).

160 Rosengrant, supra note 154, at 13.

161 Id. at 12.

162 Id. at 13.

163 Id. at 12.


164 Id. at 13.

165 Id.

166 1d.atl3-14.

however, Olesha's section chief gave him the opportunity to write a satirical piece for the journal. Olesha and his colleagues agreed that he should sign this satire with an industrial-sounding pseudonym and they decided on "Chisel."lM Olesha's satire was an immediate success, earning "Chisel" a rank among the journal's top contributors and placing this relatively unknown author in the company of writers such as the soon-to-be-famous Isaac Babel and Mikhail Bulgakov.'65

Olesha's contributions to The Whistle were quite similar to Sinclair's submissions to Appeal to Reason. Most significantly, both Sinclair's and Olesha's works were directed toward a primarily working class readership. Perhaps as a result, Olesha's style paralleled Sinclair's in its exposure of corrupt practices and its realistic portrayal of the life of the working class. While Sinclair's readers were moved by the realistic depiction of the meat packing industry's filth and corruption, Olesha's readers "responded both to his accurate portrayal of railroad life and to his clever assaults on the graft, bureaucracy, and inefficiency that were impeding the establishment of an effective transport system."'66 Olesha planned to continue writing in this realistic vein, claiming in a letter to Mikhail Bulgakov in June 1924, "Mishenka, I shall never write abstract lyrical verses. Nobody needs them. A


167 1d.atl4

168 Id.

poet must write satirical poems so that his lines can have practical value for people who earn seven rubles."167

In spite of this proclaimed devotion to serving solely the working class' literary and social needs, however, Olesha soon began experimenting with abstract works of avant-garde drama and fiction which were clearly not fit for consumption by the proletariat workers. Many writers change styles as the result of clear dissatisfaction with their prior works or as part of a unidirectional development. Olesha, however, "was apparently ambivalent about the kind of literature he should devote himself to, for simultaneously with the development of his career as a writer of artistic prose and drama, he continued to work as a propagandist for the railroad newspaper...~"168 In fact, it was not until 1932, five years after Olesha had become a famed abstract novelist, that he finally left his propagandist post at The Whistle.

Olesha's interest in the avant-garde and abstraction paralleled the spirit of the times as the Russian literary and dramatic scene flourished with experimental forms during these years directly following the Revolution. Dramatic avant-garde productions became particularly vibrant during this time. Olesha played a vital part of this experimental dramatic phase, as demonstrated by Vsevolod Meyerhold's use of new techniques to stage Olesha's avant-garde plays "in the spirit of uprorious farce or reckless


grotesque."'69 Included in these works was Olesha's The Conspiracy of Feelings, which was a dramatic version of the novel Envy.

It was the novel form of this work, however, which brought Olesha instant praise as a leading abstract writer. The novel Envy first appeared in 1927, five years before the restrictive Socialist Realist mode became the required literary technique for Russian writers. Like Sinclair's The Jungle, Envy was first published in a periodical. This magazine, Red Virgin Soil, was the same one which had brought Babel and Kataev national attention.'70

The plot of Envy revolves primarily around the interactions between three characters; Nikolai Kavalerov, Andrei Babichev and Ivan Babichev, Andrei's brother. Kavalerov is an unemployed, twenty-seven year old loner who is entirely self-absorbed with his emotions and with his desires for recognition and fame. He is highly contemptuous and suspicious of industrial Socialism and yearns to live in a society in which individual personalities are prized. He thus hates everything about the new Soviet society and envies everyone who gains fame or success according to this society's values. Andrei Babichev, the director of the food trust, is one of those accomplished Socialists Kavalerov comes to despise. Andrei is a successful industrialist who invents a machine which manufactures healthy sausages inexpensively. Andrei also constructs "Two Bits," the Socialist mass kitchen where a meal can be bought for only two bits. Andrei is also,

169 Victor Terras, A History of Russian Literature 598 (1991).

170 Robert A. Maguire, Red Virgin Soil; Soviet Literature in the 1 920s, at 312, 314 (1968).


however, revealed to be a glutton and to possess a bothersome administrative smugness and lack of creativity. Andrei's brother Ivan Babichev, in contrast, is a romantic dreamer who spends his days playing cards and preaching in taverns about the decline of emotions and of the human soul in the emerging Socialist industrial era. Ivan also claims to spend his time perfecting his greatest invention, a fantastical machine named "Ophelia."

Part One, which constitutes the entire first half of the novel, is narrated from Kavalerov's perspective. This section opens with Kavalerov living as a guest in Andrei's house. Out of pity, Andrei had literally picked Kavalerov up out of a gutter and brought him home. Andrei gives Kavalerov a position as a proof-reader and offers him a place to sleep until the young man Andrei treats as his son, the star soccer player Volodya Makarov, returns and reclaims his place on Andrei's couch. From the start, Kavalerov holds Andrei in contempt as a result of his obsession with sausage manufacturing, a topic Kavalerov views as far from noble. Soon, however, Kavalerov begins to hate his benefactor whole-heartedly, in large part due to his envy of Andrei's fame and self-satisfaction, the very qualities Kavalerov claims to detest. In addition, Kavalerov despises Andrei because he is promoting the romance between Volodya the soccer player and Valya, Ivan's daughter, with whom Kavalerov has become obsessed.

Kavalerov eventually writes Andrei a letter condemning him as a "dull functionary," yet also revealing Andrei's power over him by admitting,


171 Olesha, supra note 2, at 36.

172 Id. at 49.

'iIyIou crushed me. You sat on me."'7 ' Delivering the letter, Kavalerov meets Volodya, who has just returned to Andrei's home. Volodya is rude to Kavalerov and flusters him. Kavalerov thus decides not to leave Andrei the letter and attempts to flea with it, but mistakenly takes with him a letter written by Volodya to Andrei instead. This letter reveals Volodya's jealously at Andrei's having taken in and cared for Kavalerov. Kavalerov then returns to Babichev's home, planning to apologize. Having read Kavalerov's scathing letter, however, Andrei kicks him out for good. Kavalerov then vows to himself to wage war against Andrei, proclaiming, "[n]ow I'll kill you, Comrade Babichev."'72

In Part Two of the novel Olesha replaces Kavalerov's perspective with an objective third-person narrator. As a result, the reader gains a less biased view of events and descriptions. In this later half of the text, Kavalerov joins Andrei's brother Ivan in his war to protect human emotions and feelings against the industrial age. This war plays itself out as a war against Andrei and Volodya and all that they and their industrial feats represent. Ivan and Kavalerov unsuccessfully try to win Valya back from Andrei and Volodya to their side, the side of romantic love, tradition and the family. After seeing Valya and Volodya joyfully playing together in a garden, however, Ivan realizes that his war is pointless because their joy proves emotions will not really fade with the emergence of the industrial Socialist state. Ivan thus


realizes that he and Kavalerov only succeed in unnecessarily embittering themselves through their war against the emerging society.

Likewise, after seeing how devoted Valya and Volodya are to each other at a soccer game, Kavalerov begrudgingly recognizes that he is powerless to wrest them apart. He returns home and turns to the arms and bed of Annechka, the overweight widow who runs his boarding house. Displeased with his circumstances, Kavalerov later fleas from the widow, striking her twice. When he sheepishly returns to her for comfort, he realizes that his fate is even more desperate than he had imagined, for not only must he satisfy himself with the widow, but Ivan has arrived at the boarding house and has begun an intimate relationship with her as well. As a result, the novel ends with the loyal Communists Andrei, Volodya and Valya happy and together in their quest for the new industrial era and with Andrei and Ivan left in the pathetic state of sharing the sexual favors of the widow by alternating nights with her.

This skeletal plot summary, in which the accomplished Communists win out in the end while the envious anti-industrialists are reduced to squalor and moral indignities, would clearly seem to promote the Socialist agenda. The novel's images and metaphors, along with its ironic tone toward the Socialist characters and their accomplishments, however, place the new industrial state under heavy scrutiny. Olesha's goal, unlike Sinclair's, was not to promote the Socialist cause unquestioningly, but rather was to force readers to recognize and address the human costs of this new society. Throughout


the novel Olesha thus greatly undermines much of the Socialist ideal by pointing out the sacrifices it requires. Even though Kavalerov and Ivan illustrate problems with traditional values, for example, Olesha uses their perspectives to illuminate some of the major difficulties with Soviet society. These problems include a potential loss of individuality, emotions, and human relationships, all of which are traditionally considered fundamental to the infrastructure of the human identity.

Like Sinclair, Olesha turns to meat products and the meat industry as primary vehicles with which to convey his ideological beliefs and concerns. This focus on meat appears from the start of the text as Olesha's primary Communist character is the Head of the Beef trust, as this hero's pride and joy is the creation of a new type of sausage, and as the measure of industrial progress is the construction of a public kitchen in which this new sausage can be served cheaply to the masses. Like Sinclair, Olesha successfully employs this meat imagery to show the harm industrialism can do both to the individual and to society's criteria for evaluating people and their achievements. Similarly, Olesha uses Andrei's mass-kitchen to demonstrate that industrialization, in addition to its effect on individuals as isolated entities, may also cause the decline of intimate relationships between individuals, bonds which Olesha clearly values greatly. Unlike Sinclair, however, Olesha does not unilaterally condemn industry and his society. In fact, Olesha even points out many of the benefits of industrial Socialism. This evenhandedness makes sense, given that Olesha was not opposed to


Socialism, but rather wanted to identify its potential implications for the individual and for human relationships.

Olesha uses meat imagery to illustrate the potential fate of the individual in a society based on mass-production and uniformity. In doing so, he employs the same technique Sinclair did of having the human characters continually referred to in meat (and particularly sausage)-related terms. Kavalerov, for example, curses all women and Volodya as being "5wine"'73 and Andrei as being a "boor."'74 Likewise, Andrei calls his brother a "beast."'75 It is Andrei Babichev, the sausage-maker himself, however, who shares the most in common with the animals from which his sausage is created. Just as pigs are obese, Andrei's large figure makes it clear to Kavalerov that his "ancestors had pampered their skins; rolls of fat were gently arranged along the backs of his ancestors."'76 Similarly, Kavalerov claims at one point that Andrei is "snorting" rather than speaking. Likewise, when he spreads the news of the successful sausage creation, Kavalerov claims that Andrei, "ran along the staircase, heavy, noisy and impetuous, like a wild boar."'~ Much as Sinclair refers to the workers in animal terms to equate their condition with that of the creatures up for slaughter, Olesha uses animal references to point out the similarities between slaughterhouse animals and citizens of the Socialist State. Like the production of a purely

'~ Id. at 12, 74.

~ Id. at 15. '~ Id. at 68.

176 Id. at 10.

Id. at25.


'78 1d.at38-39.

utilitarian piece of sausage from a living animal, the industrialist society risks dehumanizing its adherents in an effort to create efficient, model workers. Thus, just as animals are manufactured into uniform sausages, Olesha's imagery allows the reader to realize that people under the industrial Socialist state are similarly at risk of becoming bland, uncreative and indistinct, much as Andrei has already become.

Olesha, however, does not leave it completely up to the reader to draw these parallels on his own. Rather, much as Sinclair explicitly parallels the production of meat with the psychological and spiritual grinding down of the Packingtown workers, Olesha also explicitly draws on similarities between the manufacturing process of the super-sausage and the mechanistic "manufacture" of the new Socialist person. He does so by having Kavalerov state of Andrei's intentions toward Valya, "[i]t's unfavorable for you to allow that girl whom you want to subjugate,.. . that this girl should have a tender, agitated soul. You want to utilize her, as you utilize (I purposely employ your word) 'heads and hooves of sheep with the aid of cleverly employed electric, spinal drills' (from your brochures)."'78 Olesha further demonstrates these parallels between Andrei's treatment of people and animals by having Kavalerov accuse Andrei, "[y]ou'd like to tame [Valya]," much as one would claim of an animal."'9 For Socialism to placate its followers, Olesha thus demonstrates, it may need to strip them of their passions and emotions and transform them into purely useful, unthinking objects, just as Kavalerov


believes Andrei wants to transform both his slaughterhouse animals and Valya.

Olesha also fears that industrialization may actually promote the mechanization of man. He illustrates these concerns by having members of the young industrial generation, including Valya and Volodya, alluded to as machines. For example, Ivan charges his brother with promoting Valya and Volodya's courtship as a means of turning Valya into a machine, claiming, "You want to give my daughter to Volodya. You want to raise a new breed. My daughter is not an incubator. You won't get her."'~ Similarly, Volodya, who is praised for being a Communist "new man," brags to Andrei, "I am a man-machine. You won't recognize me. I've turned into a machine. If I haven't already turned, then I want to turn."'8 ' Olesha then links this type of man-machine with the Andrei's sausage machine, having Volodya compare the two and inform Andrei that man-machines are "remarkably indifferent, proud machines. Not what's in your sausage works. You're using primitive machines."'82 Thus, not only could the Socialist industrial state transform humans into machines, but these machines could be even more advanced and emotionless than the best factory machines.

The choice of a new sausage as the glorious sign of industrial progress effectively demonstrates that this type of industrial society, which yeams for complete mechanization, may be misguided in its unilateral praise of

~ Id. at 39.

180 1d.at67.

181 Id. at 46.


technology and industry. Had Olesha focused on a more vital industrial product, such as the cement required for major infrastructure building, the practical benefits of industrialization may have been viewed by readers as clearly outweighing any intangible drawbacks. The adoration Olesha has the industrial society bestow on the sausage, however, immediately strikes the reader as inappropriate since sausage, even efficiently manufactured sausage, is only the remnants of animal parts stuffed into intestines.

This realization is brought home to the reader through Olesha's use of hyperbole regarding the sausage's importance. For example, as he transports the sausage across town, Olesha has Kavalerov explain that, 'ilelveryone saw that I was carrying the sausage and everyone made way. The path cleared magically."'83 Not only is this trivial industrial product excessively praised, but it is in fact valued more highly than people. Olesha indicates this privileging of sausage over man by having Kavalerov exclaim with disgust, "[a] lousy piece of sausage directs my movements, my will. I won't have it."1M Through this excessive reverence paid to the sausage, Olesha demonstrates that the industrial society has misplaced its values, treating any industrial product, no matter how ignoble or base, with the utmost pride and satisfaction.

Olesha also uses the sausage's triviality to illustrate that the industrial society is starting to base its evaluation of people and their accomplishments

182 Id. at 46.

183 Id. at 26.

184 Id. at 28.


on inappropriate criteria, such as their ability to create such a product. Olesha illustrates these new standards by revealing the public unquestioningly believes, "(Andrei) Babichev is a champ" simply because "[h]e's made a sausage."'85 Similarly, the State's appraisal of Andrei is quite complementary as "one people's commissar praised him highly in a speech: 'Andrei Babichev is one of the state's most remarkable people.' He. . . occupies the post of director of the food industry trust. He's a mighty sausage maker, confectioner, and cook."'86 The ironic tone of these hyperbolic praises of Andrei, like those of the sausage, force the reader to recognize how minimal the mighty sausage maker's contribution to society actually is.

In addition, Olesha has Kavalerov explicitly reveal that the sausage maker may not be worthy of such high laurels. Kavalerov's non-industrial value system prevents him from understanding Andrei's fame, leaving him to ponder, "glory flames up in [Andrei Babichev's] new world because out of the hands of a sausage maker has come a new sort of sausage. I don't understand the glory; what does it mean?"'87 Kavalerov concludes that the foundation of Andrei's glory is unsatisfactory, claiming, "I want to beam, as Babichev beamed today. But a new sort of sausage won't make me beam."'88 Rather, Kavalerov wants fame founded on more intangible and individualistic grounds, based on the "strength of [his] personality."'89 Olesha

185 Id. at 26.

186 Id. at 6.

187 Id. at 28.

188 Id. at 28.

189 Id. at 17.


190 Id. at 6.

thus has Kavalerov break with Andrei by screaming at him across a field, addressing him not by name, but merely as, "Sausage Maker!" since that is Andrei's only source of value according to the new society's criteria for judging an individual's worth. By questioning these new criteria which inappropriately indicate that this sausage maker is a "champ," Olesha prompts the reader both to question the emerging society's paradigms for determining human value more generally and to consider whether other Socialist "champs" might, like Andrei, be undeserving of such praise.

Similar to his use of meat imagery to communicate the effects of industrial Socialism on the individual and society's evaluation of him, Olesha uses the construction of Andrei's sterile mass-kitchen to illustrate the potential decline in human connections and relationships resulting from mechanization more generally. Olesha is explicit is his connection between Andrei's creation of the Two Bits cafeteria and his concerns about industrialization at large, having Kavalerov state of Andrei's plan, "[h]e'll put an end to homemade, the half-cup and the pint bottles. He'll amalgamate all the meat grinders, hot plates, fry pans, faucets... If you please, this will be the industrialization of ~ Such discussions of the large-scale cafeteria effectively demonstrate the potential for a decline in human relationships because the cooking and serving of food are traditionally considered intimate rituals which bond families and friends together. The State's attempt to integrate even these private aspects of an individual's heritage and culture


191 Id. at 93.

into the realm of public experience thus demonstrates the extreme potential for a decline in the rituals which spark and solidify intimate relationships resulting from society-wide industrialization.

Through Ivan's speech at the grand opening of Two Bits, Olesha clarifies that his opposition to mass-kitchen is based on these fears of the loss of heritage, history and tradition, all of which are traditionally solidified through intimate human bonds. Olesha informs the reader of these potential losses resulting from industrial development by having Ivan warn the crowd, "What does (Andrei Babichev) want you to chuck out of your hearts? Native home- home, sweet home! He wants to make you tramps on the wild fields of history. Wives, he'd dreaming of erasing from the little faces of your babes their resemblance to you- the sacred, beautiful, family resemblance."'91 According to Olesha, these intangibles of history and tradition are essential, even in the Socialist State, since they constitute an integral part of the human identity. Olesha thus uses the depersonalization of kitchens and "home," and of the intimate relationships which are fostered in these personal places, to illustrate the potential decline in fundamental human connections resulting from mass industry. Through the raving of the hopeless romantic Ivan, Olesha thus succeeds in illustrating reasonable concerns regarding industrial progress.

Olesha also posits that any relationships between humans that do remain may soon be replaced by "relationships" between humans and


machines. His depiction of Andrei's sentiments toward his new sausage effectively illustrates this problem. Rather than viewing the sausage as a substance which has value solely as a result of the benefits it brings people, Andrei feels the same way about this product of technology that one would normally feel about another human being. Olesha demonstrates this shift in emotions from humans to factory products by stating that, "[h]aving received a section of this intestine (for the first time, Andrei) Babichev turned red, even felt ashamed at first, like a bridegroom who had noticed how beautiful his young wife is and what an enchanting impression she is making on the guests."'92 Thus, even if yearnings for relationships do survive mechanization, they may be directed toward factory products, not people.

In spite of all of these critiques of the Socialist industrial state, readers do not close the book with the impression that the Soviet state was uniformly abominable. This is because Olesha balances his criticisms of the potential harms of industrial Socialism with passages that reveal the its potential benefits. Olesha, unlike Sinclair, does not unilaterally condemn the similarities between meat and people living in the industrial era. Rather, Olesha is more balanced in his approach. This balance is not surprising given Olesha's close ties with the Revolutionary cause, ties which indicate that Olesha did not by any means unilaterally condemn Socialism as a political goal.'93

192 Id. at 27.

193 In fact, Olesha for the most part supported the Revolutionary forces and the subsequent Communist regime. He reflected these views in his long fairy tale


Olesha points out, for example, both the benefits and concerns associated with the scientifically-improved sausage. The sausage, though mass-produced and undifferentiated, is nonetheless admitted to be inexpensive and nutritious, a technological improvement over its forerunners. These benefits may even imply that, just as Andrei's miraculous sausage is efficient and scientifically advanced, so too might individuals become more productive under Socialism.

Furthermore, Olesha indicates that there are many potential benefits to the industrialization of even kitchens and food. He does so by explaining that Andrei would liked to have told the women in the traditional kitchen, "[wiomen, we will blow the soot off you, clean your nostrils of smoke, your ears of din. . . . We'll return to you hours stolen from you by the kitchen-you'll get half your life back."194 These particular benefits are actually quite feminist in that they give women options regarding how they spend their time. Olesha thus recognizes that industrialization could serve as a catalyst for quite noble goals, such as moving women out of the home and into the work force and political arena, goals which we in the late twentieth-century United States are still attempting to attain.

about a successful proletariat revolution, Three Fat Men. MacAndrew, at vii. Likewise, although his works unearth problems of the new Bolshevik regime, Olesha never favored Capitalism, as illustrated in his drama The List of Benefits. In this piece, the protagonist determines that "the benefits of the new regime outweigh its evils." It is not until she experiences the artistic corruption of Paris, however, that she recognizes the benefits of Communism and is capable of definitively choosing Communistic over Capitalistic society. Marc Slonim, Soviet Russian Literature 123 (1964).

194 Olesha, supra note 2, at 7.


'95 Id.

These benefits could be captured through the efficiency which industrialization can provide. Olesha communicates this possibility to the reader by having the narrator state that Andrei wanted to explain to the housewives, "you, young wife, cook soup for your husband. And you give half your day to a peewee puddle of soup. We'll turn your peewee puddles into shining seas. We'll ladle out cabbage soup by the ocean, pour out buckwheat by the burial mound, gelatin will move by the glacier!"'95 Along with potential dehumanization, Olesha thus reveals that industrialization may also bring efficiencies of size which could truly improve the quality of life, especially for women, by decreasing the time spent on manual labor.

In a similar vein, Olesha calls the more traditional, non-industrial value system into question. Even if readers agree with Kavalerov that glory must be based on more essentially human traits than the ability to manufacture sausage, Olesha makes it clear that society would not necessarily be better off if it valued emotions and strong personalities above all else. Kavalerov's dream of being famous based on his strong personality, for example, may actually be harmful to society since Kavalerov would be satisfied if he could be recognized as "the one who lived at a famous time, hated everyone and envied everyone, bragged, got carried away, was obsessed with great plans, wanted to do a lot and did nothing- and ended up by committing a disgusting, malicious crime...~"1~ Likewise, Ivan confesses to his daughter, "I was mistaken, Valya. ... I though that al feelings had


perished- love and devotion and tenderness.... But everything's remained,

......... Only not for (me and Kavalerov), and for us remained only envy. '~ Ivan Babichev, the character most devoted to emotions and the non-

industrial value system, thus demonstrates that the industrial era will not completely destroy all emotions and that, more importantly, fighting off the new age only serves to breed negative characteristics such as envy. Ivan's realization, combined with Kavalerov' s harmful, emotional self-indulgence, shows the reader that, though the industrial age is imperfect, the alternatives have their problems too.

Olesha even questions, however, the true extent of dehumanization and loss of emotions which might result from industrialization. He does this by showing, for example, that Volodya, the extreme example of a "manmachine" retains at least some of his emotions. These emotions are revealed through Volodya's writing to Andrei, 'iIy]es, I'm jealous" of Andrei's haven taken in and supported ~ Although this emotion is not particularly pleasing, it is a signal that the man-machine does have feelings. In addition, Volodya in the end is revealed as harboring genuine positive emotions of affection for Valya. Thus, even the self-proclaimed manmachine of Socialist industrialism has held on to at least some of the emotional characteristics of a human identity.

196 Id. at 21.

197 Id. at 100.

198 Id. at 45.


199 Id. at 7.

In addition, Olesha decreases the industrialist's culpability for any of the harms of their actions may cause. When Andrei investigates a traditional kitchen in an attempt to determine whether this format is satisfactory, for example, he remains inculpable for his harm since he fails even to recognize that "[hue disturbed everyone- immense, cutting off much of their space, light, and air."'~ Rather than imputing bad intentions onto the Socialists promoting this potentially harmful industrialization of food service, Olesha thus conimunicates to the reader that these leaders do not intend any harm and may not realize the potential effects of their actions.

Olesha had incentive to illustrate both the human gains and sacrifices potentially resulting from industrial Socialism because his goal was not to choose sides in a political debate, but rather to posit moral questions and express concerns about the future of the human identity. Unlike Sinclair's politically and ideologically inspired prose in The Jungle, Olesha addressed moral questions, avoiding, for example, arguments regarding the merits of the Bolshevik regime as a new political and economic reality. Rather, Olesha in Envy, "envisaged and interpreted Communism as a moral problem. What species of human beings was it trying to create? What new norms was it substituting for the old ethical norms of humanism and Christianity?"200 It thus makes sense that, although the loyal Communists are the victors of the novel, many of the text's devices call the readers attention to potential problems with industrial Socialism. As discussed, these problems include the


devaluation of the individual and problems resulting from the triumph of mechanization. Although not necessarily fatal to Socialism, Olesha seemed to believe these concerns had to be recognized as part of the price which society pays for attainment of its Socialist goals.

Given Olesha's at least partial condemnation of Socialism, the initial official response to Envy was surprisingly positive. Not only did Envy enjoy "the unqualified official endorsement by the government-controlled press," but it also received extremely laudatory reviews in literary journals.20 ' A review in The Young Guard, for example, referred to the novel as "a brilliant and profound work."202 Most significantly, Pravda, a famous periodical which was considered the final arbiter of literary merit in the Soviet Union, praised Olesha's work. In fact, the review in this prestigious journal stated that "Olesha's style is masterful, his psychological analysis infinitely subtle, his portrayal of negative characteristics truly s~king...

This enthusiasm from all quarters may have been a result of the novel's ambiguity. As hypothesized by critic Clarence Brown, Olesha's political and moral ambiguities may have "pleased because zealots of all persuasions (like you and me) thought that they discerned in Olesha's fable their own views."204 For example, one Pravda reviewer clearly read his own ideology into the novel, categorizing the work as one which "exposes the

200 Slonim, supra note 193, at 122.

201 MacAndrew, supra note 159, at viii.

202 Gleb Struve, Soviet Russian Literature 1917 - 50, at 98 (1951).

203 MacAndrew, supra note 159, at viii (citing Pravda book review translation, citation of review and translation not given).


envy of small despicable people, the petty bourgeois flushed from their lairs by the Revolution; those who are trying to initiate a 'conspiracy of feelings' against the majestic reorganization of our national economy and our daily life...."2~ Although some thematic strands of Envy can be interpreted as supporting this review, there are clearly other strands which depict the emerging Socialist society as being far from "majestic." Just as a good lawyer can make an ambiguous case suit his or her purposes, each reader of Envy can find some interpretation supporting his or her individual moral or political beliefs.

Soon after Envy's publication, however, critics and the Party began to recognize and condemn the ambiguities in Olesha's text. His anti-Socialist characters were not portrayed as being as unworthy as the Party would have liked. Likewise. Olesha's treatment of the loyal Socialists, Andrei Babichev and his soccer playing adoptive son, were not positive enough.206 Specifically, critics believed that Kavalerov's first-person opening narrative, presumably including its vivid condemnations of the industrial "sausage-maker," might generate an inappropriate sympathy between the reader and those opposed to Socialist progress.207 This potential sympathy was criticized even though the novel's positive Socialist heroes win out in the end. Envy was also criticized

204 Deming Brown, Soviet Russian Literature Since Stalin 230 (1978).

205 MacAndrew, supra note 159, at viii (citing Pravda book review translation,

citation of review and translation not given).

206 Id.

207 Ten-as, supra note 169, at 576.


as being anti-Socialist as a result of its primary concern with the individual as an isolated entity rather than as an integral part of a larger societal reform.208

Olesha's literary techniques were also widely criticized. Rather than being viewed as effective methods of communicating with his readers, Olesha's vivid symbolism and changing narrative stance only served to enhance the novel's condemnation. He was criticized as being a formalistic writer, unduly emphasizing literary form and structure over what should have been the novel's focus, the support of Socialism. The novel's often satirical tone toward Socialist characters such as Andrei Babichev also undermined the Soviet critic's initial belief that the novel was a unilateral endorsement of the Party ideology.209

As a result of these ideological ambiguities and thematic and stylistic criticisms, Envy "proved unacceptable to fully-fledged Stalinist authority" and was censored out of the public's purview.210 Such censorship of a work which questions aspects of the prevailing ideology contrasts sharply with treatment which The Jungle received from the United States' government. Rather than illuminating Sinclair's text from political debate, the United States government and free press brought Sinclair's work to the foreground of the nation's attention. In fact, it was largely this public attention which spurred on investigations into the truth of Sinclair's claims and eventually led to

208 Slonim, supra note 193, at 121.

209 Victor Erlich, Modernism and Revolution; Russian Literature in Transition 204 (1994).

210 Ronald Hingley, Russian Writers and Soviet Society 1917 - 1978, at 79 (1979).


legislation which aimed at correcting the wrongs he illuminated, or at least the ones with which the public was concerned.

The suppression of Olesha's text, in contrast, prevented the dissemination of his ideas to the public. This lack of access to the national audience in turn defeated any potential Envy might have had to inspire people to challenge national industrial policy or to question the propriety of Socialism given its human costs. As a result, Envy's long term contribution to society was not any change in governmental policy but rather is limited to the literary guidance it has been giving to protest authors since its censorship was lifted. Soviet censorship thus effectively prevented the social and political changes which the effects of The Jungle prove fictive novels can induce.

It was precisely because the Soviet state realized this ability of "fictive" literature to influence the public's ideological views that it censored texts such as Envy. This condemnation and censorship of Soviet texts, first informal and later Party-mandated, increased greatly in during the late 1920s and through the 1930s. Until the mid-1920s, the Communist Party had permitted the production of avant-garde works such as Envy with little hindrance. This was because the Party identified two types of literature, distinguishing political literature, over which it retained total control, from "imaginative literature," which the Party cared little about so long as the writers themselves remained loyal.21 1 This distinction, however, began to break

211 Maguire, supra note 170, at 421 - 22.


down during the mid-1920s as the Party began to recognize that this ~~imaginative literature" had a strong influence on it readers. Desiring to guide that influence in the way most beneficial to the Socialist cause, the Party began to consider limitations on such works. By 1924, the Party was in fact instituting official interpretations of "imaginative literature." More importantly, however, the Party began promoting, and later forcing, the creation of literature based on Party-approved strictures.212

The Party structurally unified the widely diverse Russian literary world on April 23, 1932 by replacing the varied literary organizations with the Union of Soviet Writers (So yez pisateley SSSR).213 Meanwhile, a commission with five members including Stalin searched for the mode of writing which would best support the Party. This commission settled on "Socialist Realism," a term first employed by Ivan Gronsky. the chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Union of Soviet Writers.214 Maksim Gorky, who was to be the first President of the Union of Soviet Writers and who worked closely with Stalin, promoted Socialist realism as an aspect of the larger social and industrial reforms.215 Stalin likewise supported the promulgation of this mode of writing, viewing it enthusiastically as "the truthful description of that which leads life toward socialism."216

212 Victor Ten-as, The Twentieth Century: 1925 - 53, in The Cambridge History of Russian Literature 492 (Charles A. Moser ed. 1989) [hereinafter Moser].

213 Id.

215 George Reavey, Soviet Literature To-day 18 (1947).

216 Moser, supranote2l2,at493.


Socialist realism was a literary style and interpretive mode directed toward the realistic illustration of the transformation of man in the new Socialist society. As noted by critic George Reavey, the Union of Soviet Writers statutes explain that Socialist realism "demands of the artist a truthful, historico-concrete portrayal of reality in its revolutionary development. ••~"217 In addition, authors were required to write in a dialectical historical framework since Socialism was predicated on this type of unfolding of events. Authors thus had to write according to "a dialectical interpretation of reality and its criterion in the needs and aims of an evolving Socialist society."218

In addition, proponents of Socialist realism strove to use texts as educational tools for the working class. Official Socialist realism documents thus mandate that, "the depiction of reality should be combined with the task of ideologically reshaping and educating the toilers in the spirit of socialism."2 '9 As a result, the most frequent topic addressed in Socialist realism works was the improvement of workers through their commitment to Socialist ideals and to the essential Socialist goal of national industrialization. As Reavey concisely summarizes, the "touchstone (of Socialist realism) is that the work should be comprehensible to the people and that it should reflect its best aspirations."220 In addition, the Party

217 Reavey, supranote2l5, at 20.

218 Id.

219 Geoffrey Hosking, Beyond Socialist Realism; Soviet Fiction Since Ivan Denisovich


220 Reavey, supranote2l5, at 22.


recognized that the workers could only be educated through texts they could understand. Highbrow metaphorical works which question the merits of industrialization, such as Envy, thus contradicted the basic tenets of Socialist realism.22 '

Olesha recognized that he was artistically incapable of writing in the required realistic mode. This was not because he found these new forms of literature to be unsound or immoral, but rather because he identified himself quite closely "heirs of the old order of things" and doubted his ability to be "re-educated" sufficiently into the modern era.m In this vein, Olesha made an impassioned speech at the Congress of Soviet Writers in 1934. He identified his view of reality with his character Kavalerov's, stating that, "[yles, Kavalerov did look at the world with my eyes; Kavalerov's colors... images, comparison, metaphors were mine. And they were the freshest, the brightest colors I had seen."~

In support of his literary style, Olesha pled for the opportunity to use this identification with the earlier generation to further the Socialist cause, claiming he would "paint a portrait of the first Soviet man, endowing him with the best of what was in my youth." Likewise, Olesha emphasized the importance of a niche for moral texts, stating "I shall write plays and stories in which young people will cope with moral problems... I will try to put in my

221 Feodor Gladkov's novel Cement, in contrast, is a particularly accurate example of Socialist realism ideals as it is an easy to read novel depicting the revitalization of a town through its embracing Socialism and through its communal restoration of the local delapitated cement factory.

222 Slonim, supra note 193,at 123.


writings all the sense of beauty, of grace, of nobility, my entire vision of the world.. . I will try to prove that the new Socialist way of looking at the world is also the most humane."224 Despite this plea, however, the Congress adopted Socialist realism, the literary style already imposed by the Party, as the ~~appropriate set of guiding principles for literary creativity . . .

Rather than merely encouraging writers to follow the tenets of Socialist realism, the Union of Soviet Writers mandated adherence to this literary form. More specifically, "the Congress made it quite clear that 'modernism,' Russian or foreign, was henceforth prohibited, that contemporary writers should learn from the classics of nineteenth-century realism and not from innovative western writers such as Joyce or Kafka. and that the party would henceforth watch literature very closely."226 Although the suppression of the once vibrant experimental theater was one of the first manifestations of these tightening restrictions, all genres of literature were greatly impacted by these prohibitions.227 These restrictions had a particularly strong ramifications for Olesha's writing, given that Envy has been recognized as "the most modern of all Russian novels."228

During the 1930s, Stalin took far more drastic steps toward limiting literary and intellectual freedom. Through the "purges," Stalin effectively persecuted writers for both their beliefs and writings. Some of these writers

223 Erlich, supra note 209, at 202.

224 1d.at2ll.

225 Hosking, supranote2l9,atl.

226 Moser, supra note 212, at 494.

227 Maguire, supra note 170, at 425.


were suspected of being Kulak sympathizers, others of Trotskyism or other forms of undermining the state. Many such authors were arrested and sent to labor camps or prison as a result of their writings. While some authors survived censorship or prolonged imprisonment, others, including the great Isaak Babel, perished during the purges. Still others, including Mikhail Bulgakov, remained relatively free from Party interference as a result of their ceasing to write and opting out of their literary communities.229 Some of these survivors, including Olesha, even lived to witness their partial or full "rehabilitation" by the state.230

Olesha managed to avoid arrest and execution not by abandoning writing completely, but rather by dramatically altering the style and themes of his works. His speech at the First Congress of Soviet Writers was apparently his last plea for morally-based, metaphorical, modern literature. Unlike Sinclair, who remained devoted to the concerns explored in The Jungle, Olesha appears to have quickly abandoned his themes from Envy. This dramatic transformation is apparent in his 1934 screenplay entitled A Strict Youth, in which the positive hero explicitly refutes Olesha's doubts about Andrei Babichev in Envy, claiming of men, "the best are those who invent machines, struggle with nature, create music and thought."23 ' This novel, however, was Olesha's only substantial attempt at serious fiction throughout the purges.

228 Ten-as, supra note 169, at 576.

229 Moser, supra note 212, at 494.

230 Ten-as, supra note 169, at 507.


Rather than risking persecution as a novelist, Olesha returned to his former role as a Socialist propagandist. He engaged, for example, in radio broadcasts as a "political agitator" after the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union.232 Olesha also continued writing throughout this period, but wrote very few fiction pieces, none of which were of any real literary merit.233 He did, however, work on numerous screenplays and write some short sketches3~ In fact, although the period from the beginning of the purges until Olesha's death in 1960 were considered his non-productive literary years, he actually has been estimated to have written three times as much during this time as between 1924 - 1934, the period which is generally believed to have been his era of literary production.235 Olesha himself has stated that during the purges he published more than one hundred articles.~

These purge era articles included, for example, anti-Capitalist pieces appearing in Literaturnaya gazeta, the Union of Soviet Writers journal. Unlike his previous thoughtful writing, however,

[t]his time he was utterly serious, indeed solemn, as he was dutifully marking the political rituals of the era, ... denigrating Western imperialism, and waxing lyrical over the vastness and greatness of the Soviet land in homilies such as 'Our Fatherland- The Russian Socialist Republic'. The wayward metaphor had give way to the accredited cich~. Clearly, the process of Olesha's reeducation had proceeded apace.237

231 Erlich, supranote209,at2ll.

232 Rosengrant, supra note 154, at 18.

233 Id. at 18.


235 Erlich, supra note 209, at 212.

236 Rosengrant, supra note 154, at 18.

237 Erlich, supra note 209, at 212- 13.


Under the government's literary mandate, one of this century's greatest metaphorical and modern writers thus transformed into a second-rate mouth of the Communist Party. Olesha was not alone, however, in his literary decline. Rather, entire genres of "Soviet film and theater retreated, with only occasional exceptions, to the official mediocrity of socialist realism."238

It may have been that this drastic change in content and style resulted from a shift in Olesha's beliefs and literary interests. More likely, however, he altered his writing because he was forced to in order to avoid the horrific fates of his fellow writers who died as a result of their disagreements with the Party's literary ideals. Andrew R. MacAndrew takes a more cynical view, ascribing to Olesha materialistic motives, noting of his purge era pieces, "thanks to these 'vignettes,' Olesha was allowed to remain a member of the Soviet Writer's Union and keep his apartment in Peredelkino."239

The extreme censorship of the purges waned a little after the German invasion in 1941. Directly after the war, however, Stalin resumed heightened enforcement of literary restrictions.240 According to writer Victor Terras, however, the war nonetheless aided Russian literary freedom by supplying material for a generation of poets and writers and became a subject of

238 Moser, supra note 212, at 490.

239 MacAndrew, supra note 159, at xv.

240 As an example, Stalin had the poet and the satirist Zoshchenko removed from the Union of Socialist Writers because their literary styles failed to meet Socialist Realism criteria. Ten-as, supra note 169, at 507.


controversy, when controversy became possible, after Stalin's death" in


The "rehabilitation" of censored authors was the primary indication of the loosening of restrictions on writers after Stalin's death. "Rehabilitated" writers were those who "had previously been silenced and, as customary in Soviet Russia, decreed to be 'unpersons' and eliminated from all records," but who were later deemed acceptable for publication and official recognition.242 Rehabilitations transpired in subtle and innocuous ways. As author George Gibian explains, "the author's name would suddenly appear, perhaps buried in a long list of writers; or a little notice would be tucked away in the back pages of the newspapers stating that a commission had been named to investigate the 'literary heritage' of the author and to prepare the publication of his works; or an edition of his writings might be put on sale."2 4~ Rarely, however, would such "rehabilitation" into the world of literary merit be accompanied by any explanation of the conditions the author had lived or died in while purged.244

Olesha was one of these many writers rehabilitated after Stalin died. Although his propagandist pieces had been published during the purges, the Party had continued its ardent censorship of his earlier works, effectively keeping these texts, especially Envy, out of the public's purview. Unlike

241 Ten-as, supra note 169, at 507.

242 George Gibian, Interval of Freedom; Soviet Literature During the Thaw 1954 - 1957, at 10(1960).

243 Id.


many rehabilitated authors, Olesha lived to experience this reentry of his modernist works into the officially-recognized literary world as Envy and other of his texts were republished in 1956, four years before Olesha's death.245 By this time, however, Olesha's life had declined dramatically. He had become an alcoholic beggar who spent most of his time at the National restaurant relying on handouts from the wait-staff.246 The Party was far from proud of Olesha's fate and even prohibited writers from referring to Olesha's final years of destitution.247 It was in this dismal state that Olesha died from a heart attack on May 10, 1960.248

Regardless of the circumstances of Olesha's later years and death, however, his earlier writings, most notably Envy, exercised substantial influence on later generations of Soviet writers. Given the long-term censorship of Envy, this type of literary guidance was the only impact which the novel could have. This guidance, however, helped to foster a rich array of post-World War II literature based on the individual, texts which in turn presumably affected the way in which their Soviet readership viewed the world. Such indirect effects on future generations are a sharp contrast to The Jungle's effects on public awareness and on meat and food legislation. That Envy survived the era of censorship and that later authors chose it as a paradigm, however, indicates the strength of Olesha's text. This strength is

245 Hingley, supra note 210, at 79.

246 Grigori Svirski, A History of Post-War Soviet Writing: The Literature of Moral

Oppression 163 (Robert Dessaix & Michael Ulman eds. & trans., 1981). 247 Id. at 163.

248 Rosengrant, supra note 154, at 18.


also demonstrated by the large spectrum of authors eventually turning to Envy for instruction.

After World War II, Soviet authors searched for guidance in writing literature which could help them and the nation comprehend the unfamiliar world around them. The War had left Soviet politics and culture fragmented and disarrayed as it called the entire Communist regime, most notably its total suppression of the individual to the masses, into question. Authors needed to find literary forms which, unlike the carefully censored and politically prescribed works of Socialist realism, would allow this new generation to address its disillusionment with Socialism and to voice its confusion over the new and ever-shifting paradigms of culture, morality and politics. Most significantly, authors needed to find works which would promote the reinvigoration of the individual as a moral, rather than purely political, entity.

As a result, post-War Soviet writers dug into their national literary heritage in hopes of finding direction. At first, they turned to the great nineteenth-century Russian writers since many of these Golden Age authors emphasized the individual moral responsibility the current generation searched for. Post-War writers were familiar with these nineteenth-century texts because, unlike the works of the 1920s, these earlier pieces had not been banned. Thus, "the nineteenth-century writers taught to every Soviet schoolchild- Gogol. Nekrassov, Tolstoy, Chekhov. . ." guided the post-War writers and, unlike the Party-mandated texts, "suggested that the writer had a


duty to be compassionate, concerned about the individual and frank in his exposure of social evils."249

As censorship continued to loosen after the War, however, Soviet writers gained increased access to previously forbidden twentieth-century texts. As a result, post-War authors were able to look to the writers of the 1920s, including Olesha, for thematic and stylistic inspiration. Although Envy had been censored and virtually ignored for decades, it republication in 1956 thus allowed the new generation of authors to turn to it in their time of literary crisis.2~

In Envy and other 1920s texts, post-War writers found many of the same themes, including a focus on the individual and moral responsibility, which they had already recognized in the novels of the Golden Age. Ernest J. Simmons recognized these similarities, referring to Olesha specifically as an author with whom "one may discern... distinct links with the past, for social idealism, as well as an interest in the human soul, had been pronounced aspects in the literary production of the old intelligensia."25 '

249 Hosking, supranote 219, at 522.

250 Along with Olesha's original text, the republication included an introduction offering the Party's pro-Communist interpretation of the text. According to MacAndrew, this introduction instructed the readers that, "whenever life under the Soviet regime appears unattractive in Olesha's stories, either he does not mean what he appears to be saying or he is simply overindulging in paradoxes, or- all other arguments failing- he was mistaken at the time but realized his en-or later and recanted." MacAndrew, supra note 159, at ix. Regardless of this politically-slanted introduction, however, this republication gave post-War authors what they really needed, access to Olesha's original text.

251 Ernest J. Simmons, An Outline of Modern Russian Literature (1880 - 1940), at 71 (1943).


These 1920s authors served as much more useful guides for post-War writers than the Golden Age authors who had written about problems of morality and individuality withm their Tsarist society. This was because the writers of the 1920s wrote within the constructs of the emerging Soviet society, the same society which the post-War writers attempted to undermine. As a result, post-War writers focused on these 1920s works from which they could discover, in "semi-submerged form, an embryonic tradition which applied similar criteria to Soviet society."252 Included in these criteria were those which Olesha emphasized in Envy, a concern with the individual, with morality and with idealism.

Similarly, Olesha and others of his period provided inspiration for post-Staliist writers searching for short forms models of Soviet literature. According to Professor Deming Brown, post-World War II writers found that, given the world-wide political and ideological turmoil, the more traditional long Russian novel form was not conducive to their needs.253 This was because, "[i]t is difficult and dangerous, in uncertain and rapidly changing times, for a democratically inclined writer to give his views the full exposure that a large novel requires."254 Shorter textual forms met the needs of these authors writing in a turbulent transitional period because short works "can pose questions, suggest dissatisfaction and doubts, and, in general, present

252 Hosking, supra note 219, at 522.

253 Clarence Brown, Introduction to The Portable Twentieth-Century Reader 145 (Clarence Brown ed., 1985).



problems without posing solutions."255 In addition, post-war authors realized that they had to write "suggestively rather than explicitly, and impressionistically rather than exhaustively" in order to reflect their chaotic surroundings.256 Short genres are particularly apt for this type of impressionistic writing because they can "focus on single episodes.., leaving it up to the reader to draw his own ethical conclusions" and thus "can make discrete moral points and limited ethical questions without seeming to threaten the prevailing ideology as a whole."257

Post-war writers thus turned to earlier short form Soviet writers, most notably Olesha and other authors of the 1920s. Looking to this decade made sense, considering the similar situations of authors during these two periods. Authors of both eras had just survived a war in which their society's moral, cultural and political frameworks had been shaken. Olesha himself recognized the benefits of short forms to approach his own era, writing in an entry to No Day Without a Line, "[clontemporary things in prose can have a value appropriate to the contemporary psyche only when they are written in one sitting." In his next entry Olesha took this logic even further, proclaiming that "[p]erhaps it is impossible for a psychological type like myself in a historical period like the present to write otherwise (than in fragments) "258

255 Id. at 146.

256 Id.

258 Rosengrant, supra note 154, at 21.


Post-War writers were thus able to identify and emulate, for example, the use of unusually powerful imagery and figurative language prevalent in 1920s short form examples. This was presumably particularly true of authors reading Olesha's pointed images of sausages and sausage-makers. PostStalinist authors also looked to works such as Envy for narrative structures, often adopting their shifting, subjective narrative perspectives and consequent fragmented format. By reading Envy, writers also imbibed Olesha's emphasis on psychological states and his use of stream of consciousness narration.259 Olesha thus provided much needed guidance to post-War writers attempting to sort out the chaos of the new world order.

Olesha also served as a model for later writers interested in addressing their political and cultural concerns through utopian and dysutopian novels and through science fiction more generally. Since the Revolution, the Party had viewed industrialization and technical modernization of the nation as mechanisms which advanced the country toward the Socialist ideal. Thus, until Stalin died, writers had been prohibited from criticizing or questioning the benefits of technological progress. In fact, scientific critiques even after Stalin's death had to be "qualified and oblique."260 As a result, there was virtually no Soviet science fiction written before the 1950s of any social or literary value.26 '

259 Brown, supranote 253, at 147.

260 Rosalind J. Marsh, Soviet Science Fiction Since Stalin: Science, Politics and Culture


261 Ten-as, supra note 169, at 596 - 97.


262 Id. at 596.

The horrific effects of the technology utilized for killing in the war, however, presumably intensified any beliefs that improperly used technology, combined with the dehumanizing culture of industrialization, can facilitate great harm. Although they had no recent predecessors addressing these issues, writers hoping to use potential problems with technology as a metaphor for their dissatisfaction with their society at large could look further back in their literary heritage to the 1920s for guidance. Olesha served as a particularly good guide for these authors because he had been one of the first major writers, along with Mayakovsky in The Bedbug and Zamyatin in W e, to embrace the non-realistic, utopian and dysutopian forms of cultural critique.262

Envy in particular could serve as an apt model for later dysutopian fiction writers. This is because Olesha in Envy puts forth specific reservations about the effects of scientific progress on the individual and family through his misgivings about mass-kitchens and technologically-advanced sausages. In addition, Olesha uses the advanced sausage factory and its creator as metaphors for exposing cultural problems such as the dehumanization and loss of emotions resulting from the Soviet structure. Later writers could thus see in Olesha's text ways of not only expressing doubts about scientific progress, but of simultaneously criticizing the Soviet culture more generally. In fact, after the thaw, Soviet science fiction and utopian forms of writing gamed significant prominence and literary respect. This was because, based in


part on its 1920s predecessors, writers began to use this genre to express their political beliefs, hence allowing "the science fiction novel [to become] a vehicle of utopian and dysutopian speculation and of ethical or political thought."263

In addition to his contributions to post-War science fiction writers, Olesha had a tremendous influence on the revitalization of the avant-garde during the 1960s and 1970s. Although the Party continued its opposition to this dramatic mode throughout this period, a number of playwrights, most notably Almarik and Aksyonov. nonetheless began using this absurdist style as a vehicle for social protest.264 That Almarik drew on the works of Olesha is quite likely considering "Almarik's conscious linkage of his own absurdist style with the earlier Russian tradition of absurd and grotesque satire from Gogol to the NEP playwrights of the 192Os...~"265 Considering that Olesha's The Conspiracy of Feelings, the dramatic version of Envy, was one of the most prominent NEP avant-garde dramatic pieces of the 1920s, this work was most likely one of Amalrik's inspirations.

The dramas of Vasili Aksyonov show an even stronger tie with Olesha's style and with Envy in particular. Through the early 1960s, Aksyonov primarily wrote traditional novellas about the transformation

263 Id.

264 Harold B. Segel, Twentieth-Century Russian Drama 407 (1979).

265 Id.


from adolescence into adulthood.266 By the mid-1960s, however, Aksyonov had abandoned this genre in favor of "the grotesque and fantastic with far ranging stylistic experimentation."267 Like Amalrik's turn to the avant-garde, Aksyonov's literary transformation was also "accompanied- perhaps even inspired- by a conscious reassiniilation of the Russian avant-garde literary heritage of the 1920s...~"268

Olesha was clearly one of Aksyonov's primary avant-garde influences. Much like Envy, both of Akysyonov's two major dramatic works, Always on Sale (Vsegda v prodazhe) and Your Murderer (Vash ubiytsa), are "rooted in a darkening vision of and increasingly conformist society."269 In addition, each of these plays embraces avant-garde techniques much as Olesha had done in The Conspiracy of Feelings, as illustrated by Meyerhold's March 13, 1929 production of Olesha's drama at Moscow's Vakhtangov Theater.270

More specifically, however, the themes and plot of Aksyonov's Your Murderer feed quite directly off of those in Envy. The hero of this play is Alexandro, a writer who tries to prevent the Masculinus Whiskey company from gaining control of society by having it grow dependent on its alcoholic beverages. Alexandro, however, fails in this attempt to thwart the pervasive infiltration of a such huge producer into society and ends up shunned. Once

266 Id. at 408. According to Segel these novellas included Colleagues (1960), A Ticket to the Stars(196 1), Oranges from Moracco (1962), and It's Time, My Love, It's Time (1963). Id. at408.

268 1d

269 Id

270 Ten-as, supra note 169, at 598.


271 Id. at 409.

isolated, Alexandro unsuccessfully attempts suicide and then interprets his failure to die as an indication that he should abandon his individuality and join forces with the whiskey company. Alexandro thus creates a an advertising character for the company and names him "Pork Sausage." Although Pork Sausage helps the companies profits, Alexandro soon recognizes that this character also leads to violence and killing and thus Alexandro tries to kill his character. Pork Sausage, however refuses to die and, instead, returns in different forms, including as the Director of Public Harmony. Alexandro, the individualist, is finally the one who dies by being electrocuted.27 '

This plot is an obvious harkening back to Envy. It is easy to see the parallel theme of the artistic individual unsuccessfully attempting to fight off the imposition of dehumanizing industrial influences. As Segel recognizes, Aksyonov employs a "similar theme (to Olesha's) of the tragically futile attempt of the individual to preserve his identity in the rapidly collectivizing and depersonalizing society of the new socialist state." In fact, Segel claims that, "it would be hard to imagine that the concept (of A Murderer) did not derive from (Envy)."272 In addition, many of the specifics in Your Murderer, such as the naming of a character "Pork Sausage," and the close parallel between Babichev's role as the Director of Beef Trust and that of Pork Sausage as reincarnated as the Director of Public Harmony, indicate that Aksyonov was conscious of his literary heritage and wanted to tie his piece quite


explicitly to Olesha's Envy. As demonstrated, Olesha's Envy thus had tremendous influence on the social protest writers of the 1960s and 1970s through his influence on their approaches to the avant-garde.

In spite of this eventual influence on post-Staliist writers, Envy clearly did not have the effect that Olesha had hoped for. By addressing the sacrifices required by industrial Socialism, Olesha presumably wanted to inspire the Soviet public to do the same. Censorship, however, made it impossible for Soviet audiences even to consider the potential problems and benefits of Socialism presented in Envy.

The oppressive purging of scores of Soviet authors effectively halted Olesha's creative genius, leaving him to write juvenile propaganda pieces and to fall prey to poverty and alcoholism. Through Olesha's forced creative stultification and subsequent personal decline, the world thus clearly lost one of its most gifted modernist writers. Nonetheless, Envy has been a tremendous influence on later generations of Soviet authors hoping to illustrate the problems of individuality and human relationships in turbulent political and social times.

272 Id. at4lO.



Both Upton Sinclair and Yuri Olesha attempted to use fiction as a mode of communicating their political and moral beliefs to their fellow countrymen and of swaying these readers to their views. Neither work, however, had its desired effect. Sinclair's novel certainly demonstrated the tremendous impact a fictive work can have on the reading public and the legislature. It also, however, illustrated the limits of an author's control over the effect of his writings since fiction readers need not fully subscribe to the author's views in order to use his text as a vehicle for advancing their own interests.

The curtailment of Olesha's budding career as an abstract writer, and of Envy's potential effects on Olesha's contemporaries, illustrates the even greater problem of censorship. Government control of the Soviet press effectively prevented Envy from drawing public attention in the way that Sinclair's The Jungle had and hence kept Olesha's views out of the marketplace of ideas. As dissatisfied as Sinclair was with what the public and legislature took from his novel, at least the American audience had access to his work, access which allowed it to take what it found to be problematic about the meat industry and correct it almost immediately.

Neither Sinclair nor Olesha, however, wrote completely in vain. While neither The Jungle nor Envy had the effects their authors had hoped for, modern writers can now turn to these texts for guidance, learning from


Sinclair and Olesha both effective modes of communicating ones beliefs through images and metaphors and the potential limitations of using fictive works to promote ones political and social goals.