The Call of the Wild: Overview

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Editor: Jim Kamp
Date: 1994
Publisher: Gale
Document Type: Work overview; Critical essay
Length: 1,410 words

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In the Soviet Union, Jack London is regarded as one of the greatest of American writers, chiefly because of such sentiments as are found in now-obscure works of his such as "A Night with the Philomaths." There he has a firebrand orating about a revolution of the proletariat

twenty-five millions strong ... to make rulers and ruling classes pause and consider. The cry of this army is: No quarter! We want all that you possess. We want in our hands the reins of power and the destiny of mankind.... We are going to take your governments, your palaces, and all your purpled ease away from you, and in that day you shall work for your bread even as the peasant in the field or the starved and runty clerk in your metropolises.... You have failed in your management of society, and your management is to be taken away from you.... This is the revolution, my masters. Stop it if you can.

However, the early poverty and struggle that drew London to Marx and to communist or socialist ideology as he read books in the Klondike winter were followed by success and belief, according to Charles Child Walcutt, in himself as "an epitome of the Darwinian Struggle for Existence, his success an example of the [Herbert] Spencerian Survival of the Fittest." He had also read Nietzsche, and he came to people his prolific output of fiction with supermen, heroes who could succeed without or in spite of either communism or democracy, heroes that were not so much self-sacrificing socialists as rapacious capitalists of the spirit. They conquered by force of will and indomitable courage rather than by cleverness. In the great American tradition, they "hung in there"; and when the going got tough, they got tougher. London liked to think of himself as one of these semi-divine heroes. A newspaper reporter once noticed that his Korean houseboy called London "Mr. God." The reporter added, "Jack liked it."

In London's most popular novel, The Call of the Wild, the hero is a dog—the story is told entirely from the dog Buck's point of view—and...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|H1420005056