Jack London’s Winter Land | Life and Recommended Works
“The Wild still lingered in him and the wolf in him merely slept.”
The above quote penned by Jack London describes succinctly his perpetual state of being. ‘John Griffith London’ known to us as Jack London led a life of an adventurer. The spirit of this adventure is clear not only from Mr. London’s exciting life accounts but also his exquisitely crafted work. When I started reading, “The Call of the Wild” I had not anticipated the precision with which Mr. London writes. Intrigued by the prose, I decided to look deeper, as he would have liked an admirer of his work to do. Out on the adventure to know more about him I discovered that he was not only someone who was empathetic but also somebody who was disciplined apart from just being an instinctive writer. Faced with many rejections when he started, Mr. London did not let these small impediments discourage him from writing what he ardently believed in. Before, we delve into what you must pick up first; let’s see what made him the storyteller he was.
Early Life and Childhood
He was born January 12, 1876 in Oakland, deserted by his father, and raised by his mother and his stepfather whose name he eventually took on. It has been averred by many of his auto biographers that he did not have a loving relationship with his mother who was quite dismissive of him. He led what one may call an unhappy childhood, however, the same instead of leaving him disgruntled made him more sympathetic to people’s miseries which is reflected in his writing. As a young man, he explored the San Francisco Bay, later sailing across Japan on the sealing schooner called “Sophie Sutherland” and also modelling for a brief while. He picked many jobs along the way and all these experiences are included in his works in one way or another.
He not only had a bright mind but was also hard working. At the age of 19, Mr. London entered the University of California, after finishing the syllabus of a four year high school course in just a year. Owning to his financial circumstances, he chose to leave university and embarked to make a fortune in the Klondike Gold Rush. When this venture did not work in his favour, he returned malnourished and suffering from scurvy. He decided that he must write. He wrote many short stories and was noticed by the “The Black Cat” which published his story “A Thousand Deaths” paying him 40 dollars. Mr. London now was certain that writing was his ticket out of poverty and squalor.
In 1900, much to his satisfaction and delight he made money just by writing affirming his faith in the process. It is also said that he would write around a 1000 words a day which only speaks volumes of Mr. London’s discipline and passion towards the art. He sold his first wildly acclaimed book “The Call of the Wild” to “The Saturday Evening Post” and the publishing rights to the “Macmillan”. Mr. London’s taste for adventure is also evident from his times as a War Correspondent during the Russo-Japanese War and his time in London as an undercover journalist to investigate into London’s East End.
For the sake of brevity, and to leave some things for you to discover, I am going to stop here and lend you some insight into his works. However, I, in no manner, claim to have apprised you with all his adventures; we may require more time to do so, but I recommend reading about him, it is an interesting tale in itself. With his thirst and yearning for adventure, it is almost impossible to encapsulate all that this wonderful man has done in one post.
While Mr. London wrote extensively, I unfortunately have only read a few. I am keen to read more and update this list, but for now, relying on my experiences, here are a few that you may pick if you wish to step into Jack London’s universe. I assure you that it is a rabbit hole and once you’ve started you may find it difficult to return back.
Let’s take a look at some of his works that you may pick from.
1. The Call of the Wild
“He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.”
Mr. London has based his most popular work on the Canadian wilderness and his experience of the same. While reading this short but powerful masterpiece, you will experience pangs of separation and the fight for survival. Told from the perspective of “Buck” a dog kidnapped and turned into a sledge dog, we come across a character will a formidable spirit. I recommend you begin your journey through the works of Jack London by picking this short adventure novel first. The story would set the perfect tone for what you must expect now that you’ve entered Mr. London’s realm. Rest assured that the detailed back drop and hard winter land proves to more captivating and invigorating than scary.
Get your copy of The Call of The Wind here.
2. White Fang
“He was a silent fury who no torment could tame”
Once you’ve read the The Call of the Wild, I would suggest that you pick White Fang next, at least that’s how I did it and I was extremely satisfied with my decision to do so. This story revolves around White Fang who is part wolf and part dog. His tumultuous life turns him into a brutal killer, however, as the synopsis on the cover will read all he wished for is a kind master. Mr. London has also derived some inspiration from his days during the Klondike Gold Rush in Canada. Readers beware, for this novel will bare the harsh realities of life as they are without the embellishments. Jack London treads the tightrope and successfully crafts a story where he does not romanticise bitter experiences carefully not playing the victim card and narrates a tale of grit and survival which is admirable and to say the least, encouraging.
3. Martin Eden
“But I am I. And I won't subordinate my taste to the unanimous judgment of mankind”
After reading this story, I went ahead to see whether this work was semi autobiographical and well yes, it is. For this story, it has often been rightly pointed out that the character of Martin Eden may be the most significant character Mr. London has created. He does what he does best and draws inspiration from his life while also touching upon how mental depressions affect one’s personality. The book follows a tale of a man at the brink of the 20th century dreaming to be a writer. While Martin’s passions are true his inspiration is the woman he loves. He exclaims that her eyes showed to him “glimpses of the soul and the glimpse of his own too.” The book serves as a great social commentary and I highly recommend people interested in the works of Jack London to peruse it.
4. To Build a Fire and Other Stories
“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.”
This is a collection of highly revered short stories by Mr. London where he touches upon themes similar to the ones in the above books. These stories like his earlier works are full of adventure and excitement. I would call some of them slightly depressing however, if you have already read some of his earlier works that may not bother you. This collection is great for readers who have already indulged into some books by the author. To be fair, I would recommend that one musr not to enter Jack London’s elaborate world with this book. It may be an acquired taste.
- Ananya Sharma
To read more article written by Ananya Sharma - CLICK HERE
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