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I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Question of the Month, Jack London

Happy 240th Birthday to the 
United States of America! 

I've joined this monthly bloghop because answering the questions is one way to expand one's mind and to let my Random Followers get to know me a little better. Hosted by Michael D'Agostino at A Life Examined ,  the question this month is: 

What was the first book (or book series) you really fell in love with?
This question has such deep meaning for me that my post today will be devoted to it.  It's all about Jack London.

Classics Illustrated 091 The Call of the Wild (1951) 1

I was first introduced to Jack London through a Classics Illustrated of Call of the Wild. I was probably 8 or 9 years old. For the first time I cried at the end of a story. I believe it was then I discovered the power of the written word. 
Jack London Studying
Studying at Heinold's 
First and Last Chance,
Oakland, California, 1886
Jack London age 9 - cropJack London was one of the first authors whose books I actually looked for in the library and stores. I loved the adventure and the far away places he took me. As a teen I read collections of his short stories, The Sea Wolf, Burning Daylight, Smoke Bellew, Martin Eden, and The Cruise of the Snark, to name a few.
Jack London young

He was accused of plagiarism, drunkenness, and womanizing. But he was none of these things. Who he was was someone who lived the stories he wrote.

 As a teen he pirated oysters, sailed the Pacific and hoboed around the U. S. At 19, after a short stint in jail, he returned home to finish high school because he realized an education was important. He went to college but couldn’t finish because he didn’t have enough money. At 21 he went up to the Yukon during the gold rush. He got sick with scurvy, lost his front teeth, and the disease left scars on his face. But it was these northern adventures that made him the author he became.

J London writing 1905
Writing on a rock in the woods.
He was a Socialist, an advocate of women’s suffrage (he created some of the strongest, most independent, and well-educated female characters in American fiction) and was against cruelty to animals.

Jack and Charmian at Waikiki 1916
With is wife Charmain, in Hawaii. 
One of my favorite quotes of his is, “You can’t wait for inspiration you have to go after it with a club.” I think it says something about him as a writer. Perhaps writing or ideas didn’t come easily for him  or maybe he “knew” he didn’t have long to live and that he had to attack his stories, capture and subdue them, and get them down on paper as soon as possible.

Jack London with daughters Bess (left) and Joan (right)
With his daughters.
Jack London died of renal failure at the age of 40 on November 22, 1916. Stop and think, isn't it amazing that he wrote and published over 50 volumes of novels, short stories, political essays and even a few plays, in just eleven years?

Below are the last two paragraphs of Call of the Wild.
Buck mourns the loss of his human friend, and yet is gloriously free and happy. The music of the words still sings in my ears and still makes me cry.

“In the summers there is one visitor, however, to that valley, of which the Yeehats do not know. It is a great, gloriously coated wolf, like, and yet unlike, all other wolves. He crosses alone from the smiling timber land and comes down into an open space among the trees. Here a yellow stream flows from rotted moose-hide sacks and sinks into the ground, with long grasses growing through it and vegetable mold overrunning it and hiding its yellow from the sun; and here he muses for a time, howling once, long and mournfully, ere he departs.

“But he is not always alone. When the long winter nights come on and the wolves follow their meat into the lower valleys, he may be seen running at the head of the pack through the pale moonlight or glimmering borealis, leaping gigantic above his fellows, his great throat a-bellow as he sings a song of the younger world, which is the song of the pack.”
Jack London's Work-Room
His writing space.
Can you remember the first book that strongly touched your emotions? Are you familiar with Jack London? Read any of his books? If you have, which is your favorite?


  1. Jack London is one of the great authors I have yet to read. Great post. I'd have to agree with him on the inspiration. There is no sense in waiting for it.

  2. I never knew any of this about Jack London, and I'm afraid I've never read any of his books. But I do love that quote, which I have seen before!

  3. He died so young. To think of what more he could've done and written if he had lived longer.

    Happy 4th, Bish!!! :D

  4. I read Call of the Wild as a kid and didn't connect with it until years later. I wish I had, but it's never too late to delve deeper into this author's work.

    Happy 4th!

  5. Those two paragraphs are beautiful and make me want to read Call of the Wild. I've only read one book by Jack London. I can't remember the title. It was autobiographical--about a young man who becomes a writer, is very successful, and then very unhappy. When my daughter rowed crew, part of the time it was at The Jack London Aquatic Center.


  6. His writing inspired me to read more and to write. To Build A Fire was the first of his short works that I read, and I've never forgotten it. I've been to his houses here in CA. Jack London State Park is lovely.

  7. His writing inspired me to read more and to write. To Build A Fire was the first of his short works that I read, and I've never forgotten it. I've been to his houses here in CA. Jack London State Park is lovely.

  8. Jack London was one of my favorite writers when I grew up. Not "the favorite" but I always knew: if it's Jack London, it should be interesting to read. No exceptions.

  9. Never read his work but wow he really had quite a life.

  10. There's Jack London Square in Oakland CA that I've visited often. He was quite an amazing man and I learned a bit more here today :)

  11. I still haven't read a book that's made me cry. 1984 probably came closest.

  12. Excellent, informative post, Bish, thank you.

    Susan at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

  13. I'm pretty sure I read Call of the Wild and loved it in my teens, but that all of London that I've read. That's so cool that this was the first author who grabbed your imagination.

  14. Strangely I missed reading Call of the Wild and I don't know how since I love stories about animals and especially if it's as well written as this one. That extract you have quoted is sheer pleasure to read.

  15. That's a lot of work in a short period of time. He had a rough life.


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