Thesis

The Carpenter's Message: Socialist Thought in Upton Sinclair's Religious and Metaphoric Works

For this essay I will examine a number of works from 20th century American author Upton Sinclair that reflect his vision of how socialist thought fulfills the core humanist message of the Christian Gospels and serves as a welcome model for American society to emulate. Sinclair's perspective is presented via a number of different genres, from autobiography to political polemic, and, within his fictional work, from allegory to parody, and from realistic narratives to fantastic ones. Though much of this writing is generally forgotten in the 21st century, by exploring the historical relationships between religion and socialism prior to the time of Sinclair's writing (as outlined by historians and religious scholars such as Robert T. Handy and Julian Strube), as well as the contemporary trends of thought in his own time, I seek to demonstrate how the inextricable connection between the two ideas are utilized to great effect throughout his work, not only in his most famous novel, The Jungle, but also in his religious biography, A Personal Jesus, and his book-length parables Prince Hagen, They Call Me Carpenter, Our Lady, and What Didymus Did. I conclude by suggesting that Sinclair's subtle inclusion in his fiction of some of the more esoteric or even occult traditions of religious thought, as espoused by the likes of Charles Fourier and Éliphas Lévi and including the use of magic, futuristic visions, and mythological characters, paradoxically strengthens Sinclair's argument of the secular necessity for reconsidering Jesus' own words, as documented by the New Testament, for the basis for Sinclair's particular brand of Social Gospel philosophy.

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