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Jack London Jack London
by The Ovi Team
2022-01-12 08:44:43
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jack01_400January 12th 1876; On this day, Jack London, the illegitimate son of an astrologer father and a spiritualist mother, is born in San Francisco. His father abandoned the family, and Jack, whose last name at birth was Chaney, later assumed his stepfather's surname, London.

From an early age, London struggled to make a living, working in a cannery and as a sailor, oyster pirate, and fish patroller. He also spent time as a hobo, riding trains. During the national economic crisis of 1893, he joined a march of unemployed workers and later spent a month in jail for vagrancy.

After his prison term, the 17-year-old London resolved to further his education. He completed an entire high school equivalency course in one year and enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley, where he read voraciously for a year. He dropped out to join the 1897 gold rush in the Alaskan Klondike.

While in Alaska, London began writing stories about the region. In 1900, his first collection of stories, The Son of the Wolf, was published. Three years later, his story The Call of the Wild made him famous around the country. London continued to write stories of adventure amid the harsh natural elements.

During his 17-year career, he wrote 50 fiction and nonfiction books. He settled in Northern California about 1911, having already written most of his best work. London, a heavy drinker, died in 1916; many scholars believe he committed suicide.

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Emanuel Paparella2013-01-12 14:42:29
There is no doubt that Jack London is one of the most influential writers of American literature in the tradition of Literary Naturalism as found in Theodore Dreisen, Frank Norris, Stephen Crane and Thomas Hardy.

However it is perhaps worth mentioning here that there is a philosophy of nature at the basis of his writings which is largely derived from Darwin, Herbert Spencer (the author of Social Darwinism) and Nietzsche’ s nihilism and fatalism. Such a philosophy of nature is prominently displayed in The Iron Heel which is perhaps the most philosophical of London’s books. At its core it is the philosophy of fatalism, the survival of the species and specifically the survival of the most fit of a species as exemplified in both the human and the non-human animal.
The ultimate task of nature, if one can indeed be discerned, is to perpetuate the species. The writer simply observes and narrates objectively the evolution of life within historical events. Objectivism is in fact the name of Ayn Rand gives to her philosophy later on. Nature is indifferent to man, it simply is, it does not act deliberately and it has no ultimate purpose. The best response that man can make is to take it all on the chin stoically. As the protagonist on the Yucon trail in To Build a Fire quips: “Well, he was bound to freeze anyway and he might as well take it decently.”

Now, should the reader of this comment think that it is all redolent of nihilism and fatalism and determinism, well, it is indeed.

It also may bear mentioning that there is however another alternate view of nature, the one best expressed by St. Francis of Assisi in that wonderful poem of his “Brother Sun, Sister Moon.” To each his own, as Pirandello used to quip.

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