The Harbor (Penguin Classics)

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Overview

Ernest Poole's bestselling, muckraking classic about the plight of the worker.

The best-known novel by the winner of the first Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Ernet Poole's The Harbor was published in 1915 to instant acclaim and remains his most important book. At the heart of the story is Billy, an aspiring writer who struggles to reconcile his sympathy for workers with his middle-class allegiance to capitalist progress. As Billy comes of age on the New York waterfront, an ...

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The Harbor (Penguin Classics)

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Overview

Ernest Poole's bestselling, muckraking classic about the plight of the worker.

The best-known novel by the winner of the first Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Ernet Poole's The Harbor was published in 1915 to instant acclaim and remains his most important book. At the heart of the story is Billy, an aspiring writer who struggles to reconcile his sympathy for workers with his middle-class allegiance to capitalist progress. As Billy comes of age on the New York waterfront, an eyewitness to explosive tensions between labor and capital that culminate in a violent strike, he learns to embrace socialism as the solution to the harbor's seething injustices. This novel, one of the most direct literary treatments of class warfare, is a valuable social history and a powerful testament to Poole's legendary talent.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in Brooklyn at the turn of the 20th century, this seminal work by Poole (1880–1950), the first recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, is a Künstlerroman chronicling socialist awakening. The teeming harbor of Billy’s childhood is ominous and fascinating, both drawing him out to cause trouble with scrappy harbor boys and repelling him back to his mother, a lover of art and justice. At college he meets intellectually ravenous Joe Kramer, and again in Paris, where Billy pursues writing and Joe covers the Russian revolution for a newspaper. Following his mother’s death, Billy returns home to find that his father has lost their fortune trading goods on the dock he ran at the harbor. Forced to find work, Billy abandons literary idealism, winning a newspaper job and, in time, the heart of childhood friend Eleanor Dillon. Billy adopts Eleanor’s powerful father’s faith in Wall Street and “big men” just as the increasingly radical Joe begins to haunt the harbor as a labor organizer. Billy and Eleanor are soon embroiled in a strike that gives harbor workers their first taste of collective power and instills in Billy a purpose that had been missing in his earlier literary efforts. One hundred years later, this precursor to works like The Jungle raises still relevant questions about the distribution of wealth, the prevalence of corruption, and the complicated interplay between family, livelihood, and political conviction. (Jan.)
Dennis Drabelle

"Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Frank Norris’s The Octopus and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath are still readable and powerful enough to move the reader, but most other examples of American protest fiction must be soldiered through. To the small company of exceptions should be added The Harbor itself, by Ernest Poole, which Penguin Classics has rescued from oblivion."
Dennis Drabelle
"I had read many radical books of late," says the narrator of The Harbor, "and I had found most of them dry affairs." Tendentious, too, he might have added, especially the novels among them. Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, Frank Norris's The Octopus and John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath are still readable and powerful enough to move the reader, but most other examples of American protest fiction must be soldiered through. To the small company of exceptions should be added The Harbor itself…Poole writes exuberant prose, with frequent recourse to the kind of catalogues favored by Walt Whitman…
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143106449
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/27/2011
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,383,890
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Ernest Poole (1880-1950) was born in Chicago and educated at Princeton. In 1902 he began his writing career as a muckraking journalist, living in a settlement house in the New York slums to further his research into the causes and conditions of poverty. He published twenty-four books, including works of fiction, history, and journalism.
Patrick Chura is an associate professor of English at the University of Akron, Ohio.

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