Great Books of the World – Part 12

“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.”
Jack London

“The Open Road” by Hollow Coves:

 

“I’d rather sing one wild song and burst my heart with it, than live
a thousand years watching my digestion and being afraid of the wet.”
“The Turtles of Tasman”
Jack London

“Anywhere” by Passenger (courtesy of The PopDiva93):

 

The Call of the Wild
JACK LONDON
1876  –  1916

Courtesy of Jack London State Historic Park:

 

Journalist and author John Griffith Chaney, better known as Jack London, was born on January 12, 1876, in San Francisco, California. Jack, as he called himself from a young age, was the son of Flora Wellman, an unwed mother, and William Chaney, an attorney, journalist, and pioneering leader in the new field of American astrology.

His father was never part of his life, and his mother later married John London, a Civil War veteran, who moved his family around the Bay Area before settling in Oakland.

Courtesy of Jack London State Historic Park:

 

Oyster pirates

Jack London grew up in a working-class environment. He carved out his own hardscrabble life as a teenager. He rode trains, pirated oysters, shovelled coal, worked on a sealing ship on the Pacific and found employment in a cannery. In his free time, he would go to a library and read.

London found fame and some fortune at the age of 27 with his novel The Call of the Wild. The success did little to soften London’s hard-driving lifestyle, A prolific writer, he published more than 50 books over the years. The one well-known is the tale of a wild dog that became domesticated, White Fang.

He also worked on other projects such as covering the Russo-Japanese war in 1904, introducing in Hearst newspapers American readers to Hawaii, and the sport of surfing, and frequently lecturing on the problems associated with capitalism.

Courtesy of Jack London State Historic Park:

 

In his later years, London married Bess Maddern, with whom he had two daughters, Joan and Bess. The marriage was doomed from the start as they married to have two children and not for love. After a few years, they divorced, and London married Charmian Kittredge, with whom he would be for the rest of his life. They lived happily on his ranch in California.

Courtesy of Jack London State Historic Park:

 

For much of the last decade of his life, London faced a number of health issues, due to his life-long problem with alcohol. This included kidney disease, which was the cause of his death on November 22, 1916.

Courtesy of Jason Weinrich:

 

The Call of the Wild

Like Buck, the big dog that is this book’s protagonist, the reader of The Call of the Wild is swiftly and irrevocably swept from the “sunkissed world” of its opening pages into a realm of elemental and unsparing experience. A favourite of his owner, Buck has known a placid, and even pampered life in California’s Santa Clara Valley  – until the day he is dog-napped and finds himself “jerked from the heart of civilisation and flung into the heart of things primordial.”

Courtesy of 20th Century Studios:

 

Sold first to a man supplying sled dogs to those caught up in the Klondike gold rush of the late 1890s, and then to a pair of Canadian government couriers, Buck soon learns that, in order to survive in the hard Northland, he must submit to “the law of the club and fang.” Instincts long-dormant begin to reawaken in him, and London thrillingly depicts the process of Buck’s “decivilisation” as he acclimates himself to his alluring, impulsive new life.

Even as he develops a bond of loyalty and love with his master, John Thornton, Buck is remade by the wild into a fierce and merciless creature, eventually abandoning the world of men altogether. Answering nature’s irresistible call, he joins his wolfish brethren and is last seen running with them through the wilderness, sounding “a song of the younger world, which is the song of the pack.”

Courtesy of SceneClips HD:

 

That, in brief, is the story of The Call of the Wild, a book that  – despite the way, its subject and style contrasted with the gentility of contemporary popular fiction – was an immediate sensation, earning Jack London’s place in the public eye as the most celebrated author of his day. A hundred years later, readers are still falling under its spell.

There have been several film and television adaptations of The Call of the Wild, most notable starring Clark Gable in 1935.

As I once wrote, wolves howling is only their heartfelt call to the motherland, the Universe, from where we all have come.

An extract from The Call of the Wild:

“One night he sprang from sleep with a start, eager-eyed, nostrils quivering and scenting, his mane bristling in recurrent waves. From the forest came the call (or one note of it, – a long-drawn howl, like, yet unlike, any noise made by husky dog. And he knew it, in the old familiar way, as a sound heard before. He sprang through the sleeping camp and in swift silence dashed through the woods.

As he drew closer to the cry he went more slowly, with caution in every movement, till he came to an open place among the trees, and looking out saw, erect on haunches, with nose pointed to the sky, a long, lean, timber wolf.

He had made no noise, yet it ceased from its howling and tried to sense his presence. Buck stalked into the open, half crouching, body gathered compactly together, tail straight and stiff, feet falling with unwonted care. Every movement advertised commingled threatening and overture of friendliness. It was the menacing truce that marks the meeting of wild beast that prey!”

“Deep River” (Traditional, Arr. Coleridge-Taylor, Kanneh-Mason), performed by The Kanneh-Mason Trio:

 

Courtesy of Ben Goldstein:

 

38 thoughts on “Great Books of the World – Part 12

  1. Wonderful rendering, Joanna. You did the take justice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Pat, for your kind comment! I told you how important libraries are, as they change people’s lives for the better. This is what your post was about, and knowledge acquired by reading and then traveling brings recognition and admiration to those writers who understand that this is their destiny.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I knew of Jack London, of course, but I did not know anything about him. How sad that his life was so short. He contributed so much. A very nice tribute.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, Carolyn, for your kind comment but it is his legacy that is immortal, no matter how short or long his life was.

    Joanna

    Like

  5. Hi Joanna,

    “The Call of the Wild” has a significant contribution to raise questions. These questions are about the difference, gap and failure of human civilization.

    John London was a prolific writer, he published more than 50 books over the years.

    He had an unstable life. In relationship, he married second time to fulfil his needs. As you have written, his mother also needed to marry two times.

    Marriage is a personal choice. I have know question on this. However, it introduces us to the marriage trends of that time (the end of 19th century and beginning of 20th century).

    Once, John London was the most celebrated author. Means, he got full love, appreciation and review of his work from the readership.

    I actually got surprised to know “Buck’s character”.

    The two scenes, in the video you have shared, shows – 1) Buck saving its mistress, and 2)later, the owner saves Buck through the waterfall – are completely copied in a Bollywood comedy movie, called “Entertainment”.

    Copying is not the way you appreciate unique masterpieces. However, the message remains unchanged – “loyality and sacrifices of the pet animals”.

    Yesterday, I was able to get answers to the usual questions comes in my mind. I hope to maintain a balanced and progressive approach towards life.

    And not losing my common sense in adverse situations.

    I have always admired your posts. Not all of them are closely relatable. But we’re “the companions of learning” in this life journey, including your remaining readership.

    Thank you for the post.😊

    Like

  6. Another good choice Joanna and all put together in your inimitable way. Although I’ve heard of Jack London I’ve never read any of his books, and he sounds like a man after my own heart. I had similar views on life when I was younger but never achieved anything remotely as exciting as he did, and the older I get the more I realise that life is much more complicated than I once thought.

    Your insight into his background made for a good read in itself and I never knew that his former home was the location for a State Historic Park, which says it all really. I suspect that the film could be called a ‘family film’ but I’m still tempted to watch the latest one with Harrison Ford. Thank you for another great post Joanna 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you, Malc, for your insightful comments. As always your words make me feel good! I do hope that you will feel tempted to read at least one of his books! Thank you again and greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You’re welcome Joanna, and enjoy your weekend.

    Like

  9. Thank you, Lokesh, for your valuable comments. Just one point here, I wrote that he was born to an unwed mother, and she married once. I don’t know the Bollywood film but take your point.
    All your thoughts are very kind and greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  10. He was born to an unwed mother. It’s my mistake, sorry.

    You are welcome.🙂

    Like

  11. Great post, as usual!
    Your research effort is amazing. I appreciated all your information, pictures and music

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Just noticed that you posted part- 12.
    Topic is unique. Need sometime to get the essence.
    Your posts are to be understood from inner mind.
    Will be back.
    Regards 😊🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you, Arun, you are very kind.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Yet another great read Joanna. Thank you for your great research and the manner of presentation that makes for easy and very interesting reading. He was a great philosopher as well as a great author, and his quote, written just a year before his death, is very powerful indeed: “He who serves all, best serves himself.”

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you, Joanna for beautifully covering the life and works of Jack London in this post. What I liked about London was how he became an international celebrity from his modest background. One thing I could relate was that I had completed my graduation mostly by borrowing books from libraries available in BHU. As I had to return those books after a fortnight or so, I used to make notes quickly.
    Coming back to London, it was tragic that he died young. His classic book ‘The Call of the Wild’ also ended tragically though with a positive note that Buck was free to join his wild tribe. But what I liked most is that this interesting book has been written from a dog’s point of view, and the message is loud and clear, ‘don’t abuse dogs or for that matter any animals.’
    Thanks once again, Joanna, for introducing this great writer with your unique photos and videos.

    Like

  16. Thank you, Kaushal, for your interesting comments! I cannot stress enough the importance of the libraries, here, not so long ago being closed or made smaller as a cost-cutting exercise.
    I thought that London had a gift for showing the attraction of traveling, learning, and then writing about his endeavors. I love the message too!

    Thank you for your thoughts.

    Joanna

    I

    Liked by 1 person

  17. You’re welcome, Joanna, always!

    Like

  18. Thank you, Peter, for your gifted comments! You got the essence of London’s philosophy of life. Greatly appreciated, and thank you!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Thank you, you too, Kaushal!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. A beautiful exploration of Jack London’s life! I remember loving to read The Call of the Wild while growing up, and Buck’s determination to survive despite difficult circumstances… which also describes Jack London himself very well.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you, Joyce, for your kind comments!

    You are right, it was all about survival and freedom.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Another wonderful post, Joanna. Thank you for all the time and effort you put into educating this reader about this country’s greats! 🌞

    Like

  23. Thank you, Lisa, for your wonderful comments!

    With comments like yours, it is a pleasure to work on my posts! Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  24. It was 2:15 in the morning. I had yawned before starting to read this post and by the time I would reach reading about ‘The Call of the wild”, i do not know how, sleep left my eyes. I straightened up and started travelling with the words.

    Joanna, Jack’s life must have been very intimate to have come upon writing about wilderness and even if I oversee his character a dog, i feel he used this as a symbol and that dog going back to his source in the wild to the pack of wolves, is like he telling all men to work and find their way back anyhow.

    I cannot thank you enough for mentioning something so beautiful in the mail and that i recogise this with my heart. My joy is in the way buck lived.

    Thank you so so much. Love.

    Like

  25. Thank you, Dear Narayan, for such wonderful comments! Of course, you are right about the symbolism of Jack’s writing. I think he would be horrified to see people on trains and buses playing games on their mobiles instead of reading books as it was before. You are also right that we should go back to the less stressful way of living, being friendly with others, and not creating cities where no one knows their neighbors and doesn’t want to know. As I wrote before Jack London’s writing made one understand the appeal of an open road, the sense of adventure, and the wish to put in words the things we saw or experienced. Over to you, Narayan, as you are a talented writer and India is heaven for a observant storyteller.
    When I write privately to you I will quote your words as they were to me memorable forever. I don’t know if you are working tomorrow on your film, let me know, please.
    Love to you too.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Please do write dear Joanna, you remember every minute detail and it just is very admirable. Today I am home Joanna, we filmed yesterday.

    Thank you so much Joanna.

    Like

  27. You have a gift for writing biography and your choice of subject is so enlightening. Thank you, Joanna, enjoy what’s left of the weekend. 🌹💖💝🙋‍♂️

    Like

  28. Thank you, Ashley, for your lovely comments! Greatly appreciated!

    Best wishes to you too!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I did write but you didn’t have time to read. I left a comment about your recent, wonderful post!

    Joanna

    Like

  30. I am going to read it of course Joanna. Now.

    Like

  31. Unfortunate that I’ve missed 11 parts of this lovely series of yours. I find Jack London fascinating. The quotes you’d interspersed were brilliant! Bravo!

    Like

  32. Perhaps, you are lucky to miss all of them as your interests are somewhere else. Thank you for your kind comment.

    Joanna

    Like

  33. Thanks for the great memories of Jack London Joana! Such a wonderful comprehensive post dear! 💞❣️

    Like

  34. Thanks, and you’re very welcome. ^_^

    Like

  35. Thank you, Cindy, for your lovely comments and the red hearts! Apologies for the delay in my reply but ai caught some bugs and not feeling too well.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Ohhhh I’m sorry you aren’t feeling well!
    Take good care of you and here are some hugs 🤗 too!🤗🤗😘

    Like

  37. Wonderful share on Jack London, thank you Joanna. He he had dig – very inspiring message about Jack’s passion to live and not just exist.
    I especially enjoyed “Deep River” performed by The Kanneh-Mason Trio, absolutely beautiful, thank you for sharing.

    Like

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