Monday, August 1, 2011

Today's Featured Writer ~ Jack London

Jack London 

(1876-1916) American writer. Jack London (John Griffith) lived a life that was full of adventure, some of which he dramatized in his most famous works,is known for "Call of the Wild" and "White Fang." His best novel, "The Sea-Wolf," was based on his experiences at sea. 

Gerald Haslam writes, "Jack London has been more widely read and translated than any other American author in history." This book offers selections from many of London's best-known works, many of which depict adventure in all of its various forms.

Life Merging Into Fiction

London was able to write with a fresh and vital perspective because he lived many of the adventures he wrote about in his tales. From an early age, he was able to survive by various legal and illegal means. He was an oyster pirate, paperboy, salmon fisherman, fish patrolman, and sailor. He worked in a canning factory, a jute mill, and a laundromat.

Then, in 1897, London took part in the Klondike gold rush. He would later write that he found himself in the Klondike. He said, "There nobody talks. Everyone thinks. You get your true perceptive. I got mine."

Publishing the Tale

Jack London's first book was published in 1900. In the years to follow, London's stories, novels and other works covered a wide spectrum of human experience. He wrote about the dehumanization of a human being in "The Apostate": "There had never been a time when [Johnny] had not been in an intimate relationship with machines. Machinery had almost been bred into him, and at any rate he had been brought up on it." But, London is able to tap into something far deeper than the surface horrors, injustices and dehumanizations in human nature.
He takes us with him on these journeys to discovery, thrilling us with the adventure. His works remain fresh and accessible, because, as Haslam explains, London "helped invent what we think of as modern American prose."

  • "I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."
    - Jack London
  • "Pictures! Pictures! Pictures! Often, before I learned, did I wonder whence came the multitudes of pictures that thronged my dreams; for they were pictures the like of which I had never seen in real wake-a-day life. They tormented my childhood, making of my dreams a procession of nightmares and a little later convincing me that I was different from my kind, a creature unnatural and accursed."
    - Jack London, Before Adam
  • "The soft summer wind stirs the redwoods, and Wild-Water ripples sweet cadences over its mossy stones. There are butterflies in the sunshine, and from everywhere arises the drowsy hum of bees. It is so quiet and peaceful, and I sit here, and ponder, and am restless. It is the quiet that makes me restless. It seems unreal. All the world is quiet, but it is the quiet before the storm. I strain my ears, and all my senses, for some betrayal of that impending storm. Oh, that it may not be premature! That it may not be premature!"
    - Jack London, Iron Heel
  • "The one opened the door with a latch-key and went in, followed by a young fellow who awkwardly removed his cap. He wore rough clothes that smacked of the sea, and he was manifestly out of place in the spacious hall in which he found himself. He did not know what to do with his cap, and was stuffing it into his coat pocket when the other took it from him. The act was done quietly and naturally, and the awkward young fellow appreciated it. 'He understands,' was his thought. 'He'll see me through all right.'"
    - Jack London, Martin Eden
  • "Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tidewater dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego. Because men, groping in the Arctic darkness, had found a yellow metal, and because steamship and transportation companies were booming the find, thousands of men were rushing into the Northland. These men wanted dogs, and the dogs they wanted were heavy dogs, with strong muscles by which to toil, and furry coats to protect them from the frost."
    - Jack London, The Call of the Wild
  • "All my life I have had an awareness of other times and places. I have been aware of other persons in me. Oh, and trust me, so have you, my reader that is to be. Read back into your childhood, and this sense of awareness I speak of will be remembered as an experience of childhood. You were then not fixed, not crystallized. You were plastic, a soul in flux, a consciousness and an identity in the process of forming--ay, of forming and forgetting."
    - Jack London, The Star Rover
  • "Dark spruce forest frowned on either side the frozen waterway. The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean toward each other, black and ominous, in the fading light. A vast silence reigned over the land."
    - Jack London, White Fang

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