Jack London

explanatory Essay
1745 words
1745 words

Jack London fought his way up out of the factories and waterfront dives of West Oakland to become the highest paid, most popular novelist and short story writer of his day. He wrote passionately and prolifically about the great questions of life and death, the struggle to survive with dignity and integrity, and he wove these elemental ideas into stories of high adventure based on his own firsthand experiences at sea, or in Alaska, or in the fields and factories of California. As a result, his writing appealed not to the few, but to millions of people all around the world.

Along with his books and stories, however, Jack London was widely known for his personal exploits. He was a celebrity, a colorful and controversial personality who was often in the news. Generally fun-loving and playful, he could also be combative, and was quick to side with the underdog against injustice or oppression of any kind. He was a fiery and eloquent public speaker, and much sought after as a lecturer on socialism and other economic and political topics. Despite his avowed socialism, most people considered him a living symbol of rugged individualism, a man whose fabulous success was due not to special favor of any kind, but to a combination of unusual mental ability and immense vitality.

Strikingly handsome, full of laughter, restless and courageous to a fault, always eager for adventure on land or sea, he was one of the most attractive and romantic figures of his time.

Jack London ascribed his literary success largely to hard work - to "dig," as he put it. He tried never to miss his early morning 1,000-word writing stint, and between 1900 and 1916 he completed over fifty books, including both fiction and non-fiction, hundreds of short stories, and numerous articles on a wide range of topics. Several of the books and many of the short stories are classics of their kind, well thought of in critical terms and still popular around the world. Today, almost countless editions of London's writings are available and some of them have been translated into as many as seventy different languages.

In addition to his daily writing stint and his commitments as a lecturer, London also carried on voluminous correspondence (he received some 10,000 letters per year), read proofs of his work as it went to press, negotiated with his various agents and publishers,

In this essay, the author

  • Describes how jack london fought his way up from the factories and waterfront dives of west oakland to become the highest paid, most popular novelist and short story writer of his day.
  • Explains that jack london was a colorful and controversial personality who was often in the news. he was fiery and eloquent public speaker, and sought after as an economic and political lecturer.
  • Opines that jack london's literary success was due to hard work. he completed over fifty books, including fiction and non-fiction, hundreds of short stories, and numerous articles.
  • Explains london's daily writing stint and commitments as a lecturer, along with voluminous correspondence, read proofs of his work as it went to press, negotiated with various agents and publishers, and conducted other business.
  • Describes how glen ellen managed to fit all these things and still find time to go swimming, horseback riding, or sailing on san francisco bay. he also spent 27 months cruising the south pacific in the snark, put in two tours of duty as an overseas war correspondent, traveled widely for pleasure, entertained a constant stream of guests whenever he was at home.
  • Describes how london was attracted to the sonoma valley by its magnificent natural landscape, a unique combination of high hills, fields, and streams.
  • Narrates how he was internationally famous for call of the wild (1903), the sea wolf (1904), and other literary and journalistic accomplishments. he divorced bessie (maddern) and married charmian (kittredge).
  • Explains london's'man-trap' of living and owning land near glen ellen was a way of escaping from oakland. london was too restless, too eager for foreign travel, to settle down and spend all his time there.
  • Explains that the great voyage was to last seven years and take jack and charmian around the world. discouraged by a variety of health problems, london returned to glen ellen and to his plans for the ranch.
  • Explains how glen ellen bought more land and moved to a small ranch house in the middle of his holdings. he rode horseback throughout the countryside, exploring every canyon, glen, and hilltop.
  • Describes how jack and charmian london's dream house began to take shape early in 1911 as albert farr, a well-known san francisco architect, put their ideas on paper and then supervised the early stages of construction.
  • Opines that london's loss was a crushing financial blow and the wreck of his long-cherished dream. the fire started by spontaneous combustion of oily rags.
  • Narrates how london's destruction of the wolf house left him terribly depressed, but after a few days he forced himself to go back to work.
  • Narrates how he spent a considerable amount of time living and working aboard his 30-foot yawl, the roamer, around san francisco bay and throughout the nearby sacramento-san joaquin delta.
  • Analyzes how charmian persuaded him to spend several months in hawaii, where he seemed better able to relax and more willing to take care of himself. his greatest satisfaction came from his ranch activities and his ever more ambitious plans for expanding the ranch and increasing its productivity.
  • Narrates how his doctors urged him to ease up, to change his work habits and his diet, and to get more exercise. he plunged on with his writing and ranch, generously supporting friends and relations through it all.
  • Recounts how jack london died of gastrointestinal uremic poisoning on november 22, 1916. he was 40 years old and had been suffering from a variety of ailments.
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