Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

London, Jack. (1876 - 1916).

L i f e

- an illegitimate child, took the name of his stepfather

- received little formal education, quit school at the age of 14

- underwent a period of heavy drinking, daring adventures, and odd jobs: an oyster pirate, cannery worker, and seaman

- a father figure for ‘on the road characters’ = the ‘vags’, or hoboes

- embraced socialism and tramped halfway across the country with a group of unemployed staging a protest march on Washington

- prospected gold in the Klondike > gained material for his writing

- enjoyed a popular and financial success x but: his strenuous life, failing health, and shrinking fortune resulted in his committing suicide

W o r k

< influenced by Charles Darwin: admired ruthless fight, power, strength, and adaptation x but: sympathised with the underdog

< Karl Marx: embraced the ideas of utopian socialism x but: believed in an individual and racial superiority

< Friedrich Nietzsche: worshipped the superman

< Romanticism: preoccupied with nature, individualism, and titanism

- a lifelong tension between the Marxian desire for social justice x the Darwinian belief in the survival of the powerful

- a natural storyteller, narrative energiser, powerful reviver of ancient myth

The Son of Wolf (1900):

- a collection of short stories

“The Law of Life”:

- the tribal patriarch’s death: an illustration of the law of life and examination of the psychological state of a dying individual

“To Build a Fire”:

- a plight of an individual x wilderness: extremely reduced states of consciousness to reveal the ecstasy lying beyond the summit of life

People of the Abyss (1903):

- a novel based on his journalistic stay in London slums to gather material for a book on hoboism

- an indictment of capitalism and the class system x an embrace of socialism

The Sea-Wolf (1904):

- a ruthless and amoral captain = a physically rough and psychologically independent superman of body and soul (<=> Herman Melville’s captain Ahab)

The Call of the Wild (1903):

- a best-selling attempt to enter the consciousness of a dog

White Fang (1906):

- autobiographical

Martin Eden (1909):

- largely autobiographical, a central document for the London scholar

John Barleycorn (1913)


(London in 1900. Source: Wikimedia Commons).

  • Author

    Jack London. (1876 - 1916). American.
  • Work

    Novelist. Short story writer. Author of Martin Eden (1909).
  • Genres

    Realism. Naturalism.


Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American  Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.

Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.

McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.

Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od  puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.

Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.


"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time".

London's Credo.


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