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Sea-Wolf, The


weyden larsen van ghost

a novel by Jack London, published in 1904. The delicate aesthete Humphrey Van Weyden, who has led a sheltered existence, is cast adrift from a ferryboat in San Francisco Bay after a collision with a steamer. He is picked up by Wolf Larsen, captain of the Ghost, a sealing schooner. Larsen is a man of immense strength, amoral, and contemptuous of society's morality of servitude. Although something of an intellectual, he is also described as ‘a primitive man’. Van Weyden works on the ship until the Ghost picks up survivors from a sea-wreck off Japan, amongst whom is a poetess, Maud Brewster. A struggle over her ensues between Van Weyden and Larsen. Van Weyden and Brewster escape and are marooned on a desert island, on which the wreck of the Ghost is later washed up. Larsen, abandoned by his crew, is on board, but goes blind owing to mental illness and is doomed to die of paralysis. Brewster and Van Weyden escape from the island back to civilization, but the unsubdued Larsen dies. A novel about a callous ‘superman’, it delineates a somewhat archetypal struggle between civilized morality and a ruthless, amoral primitivism.

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