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Word for the Wise September 20, 2006 Broadcast Topic: Remembering Upton Sinclair

Today we mark both the birth anniversary of Upton Sinclair (the writer, reformer, and politician was born on this day in 1878) and the centennial of the publication of his enduring work, The Jungle. (来源:老牌的英语学习网站 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

Upton Sinclair's muckraking exposé—a self-published novel that brought home to the public the very real horrors of the meatpacking industry—was the impetus that helped establish the Pure Food and Drug Act. Sinclair (who had intended his novel to expose abusive working conditions, not disgust meat-eaters) ruefully recalled, "I aimed at the public's heart and by accident hit it in the stomach."

Thirty-seven years later, the fellow who knew how to stir things up won a Pulitzer Prize for a different book. Upton Sinclair's 1943 novel, Dragon's Teeth, told the tale of the Nazi takeover of Germany in the 1930s. Its title comes from Greek mythology, where the teeth of a slain dragon are planted (per the instructions of the goddess Athena) and then spring up from the earth as armed warriors, who fight to the death. To this day, to "sow dragon's teeth" is to incite strife or plant the seeds of future conflict. Dragon's teeth itself is a byword for "seeds of strife."

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