Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Book Review of Call of the WIld by Jack London
Author: Jack London
Publisher: Wordsworth Classics
Type of book: Alaska, civilization, savageness, wilderness, domination, 1890s?, kidnapping, dog hero, young adult
Year it was published: 1903
Uprooted from the good life of a dog on an estate in California, Buck- the canine hero of The Call of the Wild- is thrust into the turmoil of the Klondike gold rush in America's savage and unrelenting northland. As one critic put it, it is "fierce, brutal, splashed with blood, and live with the crack of the whip and the club." Its place is assured as one of the world's greatest "Ripping Yarns."
The main character in this novel is Buck, a dog that survived through better and worse, who was forcibly sold for gambling debts and ended up in Alaska where he learned valuable lessons about survival. I saw visible change in Buck, from someone who's a domesticated dog to someone who became a lethal fighting machine that showed off prowess in everything. The secondary characters, besides the incompetent men and a woman, aren't given a lot of spotlight thus we barely get to know them.
If you strip away civilization from the most domesticated animal, you'll find savagery underneath.
I would guess the story is believable, and its told completely from Buck's point of view, although the author does show what he means by certain things or why Buck is that way. I did enjoy watching Buck being stripped of civilization and seeing the ultimate result. Its also fascinating to see how difficult it is to live in Alaska and how important it is to listen to elders and not disregard their advice, especially in Alaska.
January 12, 1876 in San Francisco, California, The United States
November 22, 1916
Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Rudya...more
About this author
Jack London was an American novelist and short-story writer whose works deal romantically with elemental struggles for survival. At his peak, he was the highest paid and the most popular of all living writers. Because of early financial difficulties, he was largely self educated past grammar school.
London draws heavily on his life experiences in his writing. He spent time in the Klondike during the Gold Rush and at various times was an oyster pirate, a seaman, a sealer, and a hobo. His first work was published in 1898. From there he went on to write such American classics as Call of the Wild, Sea Wolf, and White Fang.
I can understand why more than one hundred years later the story is very popular. For some odd reason I was hesitant on reading it, but then decided to take the plunge. For one thing the main character is unusual; a dog by the name of Buck. As far as I know, I barely know of any other stories (perhaps Rudyard Kipling is an exception,) where the story is seen from an animal's eyes. There is also this appeal of civilization vs wilderness and which one will Buck ultimately choose. The reader is with Buck through hard times, watching the civilization being stripped from the dog, witnessing the savagery and brutality of the character that he's encouraged to show. The version I have is also very short (my version is about 60 pages) and this novella will encourage long discussions of what creates civilization as well as what can take away that route. It also asks an interesting question; if humanity is stripped away from civilization, will it also go back to the time of cavemen and dominance?
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)