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The Birth of a JungleAnimality in Progressive-Era U.S. Literature and Culture$
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Michael Lundblad

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199917570

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199917570.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 01 August 2021

The Octopus and the Corporation

The Octopus and the Corporation

Monstrous Animality in Norris, Spencer, and Carnegie

(p.77) 3 The Octopus and the Corporation
The Birth of a Jungle

Michael Lundblad

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores new ways of thinking about the marketplace as a jungle at the turn of the twentieth century. While constructions of the corporation were increasingly framed within the Darwinist-Freudian jungle, many texts at that historical moment actually resisted that discourse, even if they simultaneously contributed to survival-of-the-fittest thinking. Herbert Spencer's influence on Andrew Carnegie's The Gospel of Wealth (1900), for example, reveals how a robber baron's ethic could contain residual Christian elements, as well as emergent jungle discourse, within the context of monopoly capitalism, labor struggle, and elite philanthropy. This chapter also focuses on the ways in which corporate exploitation could still be critiqued as monstrous, rather than “natural,” in works such as Frank Norris’s The Octopus (1901). Norris exemplifies an alternative construction of animality, with the central metaphor of the corporation as an octopus, that does not fit within the discourse of beasts fighting to survive in the jungle of the market.

Keywords:   animality, corporation, class struggle, market, jungle, monstrosity, Herbert Spencer, Andrew Carnegie, Frank Norris

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