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date: 24 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Horrific experiences as a boy laborer prompted Jack London’s quest for—and public circulation of—factual data that is omnipresent in his fiction, essays, and lectures. His vast database ranged from newsprint accounts to reports of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. London’s zeal for factual authenticity aligns him with contemporary investigative journalists (the muckrakers) and with the Progressive movement in which political figures (notably Wisconsin’s Robert La Follette) and professionals in medicine, economics, law, religion and other fields who sought to reform US society by presenting the dire facts of political corruption, child labor, dangerous workplaces, starvation wages, slum housing, the injustices of the criminal justice system—all topics in London’s oeuvre. London adhered to contemporary Upton Sinclair’s maxim that the true purpose of fiction is “to alter reality.” He strategically compounded factual data with emotional appeals in his career as a foremost American public intellectual.

Keywords: social facts, public intellectual, socialism, public opinion, Reform

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