Other Free Encyclopedias » Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction » Books & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Ke-Ma)

London, Jack

wolf dog seal alaska

(US, 1876–1916)

Born in San Francisco, London's tough early experiences as an oyster pirate, seal-hunter, hobo, and gold prospector gave him a wealth of material for his fiction. He was an overtly commercial and prolific writer, becoming one of America's first celebrity authors. The Son of the Wolf (1900), with its stories of men and animals in Alaska and the Yukon, lyrical descriptions of frozen landscapes and life-or-death situations, proved popular. But he was made famous by The Call of the Wild (1903), which has become an enduring children's classic; a placid St Bernard dog is abducted from his California home and taken to work in Alaska, where he is forced to rediscover his natural savage instincts in order to survive. White Fang (1906) reverses the process, following a wolf-cub into its maturity as a fighting dog and into domestication, and is more sentimental, though still powerful in its criticism of human cruelty. London's later works can be seen as philosophical adventure novels, often rather wordy but always highly enjoyable. The Sea-Wolf (1904), for instance, superbly sustains its survival-of-the-fittest theme; the sadistic captain of a seal-hunting boat, Wolf Larsen, is a great villain, defeated in the end by co-operation not individual action. Martin Eden (1909), often regarded as his best novel, is based on his own struggle from poverty to become a successful but despairing author. The main character is alienated from his own class, and finds romantic ideals and worldly success to be ultimately meaningless.

Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Ernest Hemingway. See THE SEA  JS

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