Jack London essay
We can say that Jack London became a writer, overcoming family rock. Scandalous fame knocked on his fate before he was born. In June 1875, San Francisco residents read a chilling blood story in the Chronicle newspaper: a woman shot herself in a temple in response to her husband’s request to kill an unborn child. The heroes of the public scandal were Flora Wellman, the erring daughter of a decent family, and wandering astrologer Professor Cheney (Chaney), the mother and father of a future writer.
Professor Cheney’s past is little known: a thoroughbred Irishman, spent many years in the seas in his youth. By the time of Flora’s acquaintance, he was a fifty-three-year-old astrologer with his clientele, for whom he made horoscopes, a lecturer, a popularizer of the occult sciences, and author of relevant books and articles in the journal “Common sense” – the first atheistic publication, which meant “progressive.” The professor considered astrology as exact a science as mathematics and, for example, being very affectionate, fended off reproach in violation of morality, pointing to his horoscope: “Alas! So it kind of says to me. ”
Thirty-year-old Flora was ugly – having suffered from typhoid in her youth, she wore false black curls and big glasses, hiding traces of the disease. However, a lively, adventurous mind, determined demeanor made her seem attractive. From her well-to-do and honorable family (her father was an entrepreneur) for some reason she left a long time ago, which at that time was an unheard of act for the girl. Relationships with their parents ended forever, and before meeting with the astrologer Flora wandered from city to city, earning bread with music lessons. She was also passionate about astrology, was a passionate spiritualist, and had paid spiritual sessions. They lived with Professor Cheney together for a year, not legally married. Their son Jack was born on January 12, 1876, and Flora had a scar on the temple. The father did not want to see the child. After Flora’s suicide (as the professor thought) and the shame that had fallen on him, Cheney left San Francisco forever and did not acknowledge his fatherhood until his death.
Jack’s last name at the age of eight was given by his stepfather – John London, a farmer, a simple man, a tireless laborer and a loser. Within one year he lost his beloved wife and son, one of his acquaintances advised him to attend a spiritual session – maybe relatives would give him news from there and alleviate his suffering. It is unknown if he received the news, but he found himself a new wife there – Flora.
According to the recollections, he was gentle in character and a handsome outward man. What made him marry unbalanced and exotic Flora is a mystery to many. But Jack was lucky – he found a real father (which is rarely obtained from stepfathers) and two sisters, John’s daughters from his first marriage, who forever became his closest people, especially Eliza. (In general, John London had ten children from his first wife, but the elders already lived separately). The stepfather brought into the life of Jack family warmth – affection, sympathy and support in all matters, which could not, to his nature give him a mother.
Jack’s first true friends were his half-sister, Eliza, who maintained her attachment to him for the rest of his life, and nurse-nurse Jenny Prentis. The childhood of the writer passed in San Francisco and its environs, among ordinary workers.
The whole house was headed by Jack’s mother – a woman energetic, well-educated, but unbalanced and impractical, which often affected the budget of the whole family: eternal need, lack of money, hunger…
One day, seven-year-old Jack opened his classmate’s backpack and pulled out a piece of meat from a sandwich. “I ate it, but I never did it again … Great God! When my classmates were tossing pieces of meat to the ground, I was ready to pick them out of the dirt and eat right there, but I was holding back.” The letters of the writer reveal to us the tragedy of his childhood: “… I am merely presenting some prosaic moments of my life. They may be the key to my feelings. And until you become familiar with the instrument on which these feelings play, you will not be able to understand the meaning of music. .What I felt and thought during this fight, what I feel and think now – you do not understand it. Hunger! Hunger! Hunger! Ever since I was pulling that one piece of meat and knew no call but the belly call, and to this day, when I already hear a higher call – still m is zatmevaet feeling of hunger. ”
Young Jack was infused with a sense of responsibility from an early age and tried his best to help his stepfather and mother. He was up at three in the morning and went to sell the morning papers. Then, not having time to go home, he went to school, and after school – again on the street, to carry out the evening newspapers. “I brought every cent home, and at school I was burned with shame for my hat, shoes, clothes. Duties – above all, from now and forever, I had no childhood … On Saturdays I drove ice, and on Sundays I set up balls for drunk players … “.
But despite all the material difficulties, Jack was a curious and outspoken teenager.
He had a good time at school, addicted to reading from an early age, and his teachers enjoyed reading his books. In the rare free hours, Jack liked to wander the fields with his stepfather or read with his sister Elise light novels published in local newspapers. Sometimes they managed to break away from home and spend the whole day by the sea. Then Jack learned about the existence of a city public library and became one of its most regular readers. He is no longer satisfied with tabloid novels, and he eagerly addresses the “real” books – the “Adventures of Perigrin Pickle” by Smollett or “The New Magdalen” by Wilkie Collins.
But there wasn’t much time for reading. The stepfather was out of work, and the care of the family was laid on Jack’s shoulders. He spent many hours in the port, where he watched with burning eyes watching the mysterious life of large ships, enthusiastically watching for the desperate quarrels of sailors. Impressive and independent Jack was irresistibly drawn to the romance of the Seas. He willingly helped the yacht owners to wash the deck, carry out their other errands, and mastered the intricate art of driving small sailing vessels between cases. After graduating from elementary school, he managed to buy an old tree for his savings, on which he dared to cross the San Francisco Bay, even with a strong southwest wind.
Thus, John London went through many professions – bricklayer, carpenter, vegetable trader, agent of the Zinger company, policeman, farmer … As a result, the family was in distress all the time, wandering from place to place, expensively paying for the next “economic hobbies” of Flora. When their farm, which yielded good income, because of “improvements” Flora declined, London moved to the suburbs of San Francisco – Auckland.
After graduating from elementary school in 1890, he enrolled workers at a cannery, where he worked for 18-20 hours. “I didn’t know of any horse in Auckland that would work as many hours as I …” he recalled at the time. Tired, barely getting home on foot and falling asleep to sleep the next morning, hardly dawn dawn, go to the factory again. He threw his books away, and for weeks his lurch swayed lonely at the pier.
Afraid of finally becoming a working cattle, he makes a pretty daring act for his age – he takes a nurse, Jenny, who loved him maternally, three hundred dollars, buys a Rizzle-Dazzle sloop and becomes an “oyster pirate” life-threatening poaching raids along with the “oyster fleet”.
Oysters “pirates” handed over to restaurants and had good earnings. When he was lucky, Jack was earning a ton of money overnight, able to gradually repay his debt and help his family. He again appeared in the city library, took with him a stack of books and voraciously read, closing in a small cabin of his sloop.
Now, equal to his new friends on fishing, a fifteen-year-old teenager has led a fully adulthood, loving violent fights, cabbages, undiluted whiskey, wild songs, even got himself a girlfriend, who arranged his first “family nest” on the sloop … », Watching as a fifteen-year-old sailor sings, gave him a year of life, no more. But once drunk he fell into the water and was nearly drowned. After that, he stopped drinking.
Fortunately, thanks to Jack’s courageous character (he quickly became king of the pirates), he was lured into service by a fishing patrol who was just fighting the poachers he belonged to yesterday.
He is then employed by a sailing schooner. Sophie Sutherland goes to the shores of Japan and to the Bering Sea to hunt for seals. Six months later, he appeared at home, gave away all his mother’s money and began working at a jute factory.
In 1893, Jack London hired a schooner to sailor and went to the Japanese coast to hunt for seals. After returning home seven months later, he was forced to work for a jute factory – there was unemployment in California.
Actually, she pushed Flora into Jack London’s writing, making his vague dreams a reality. Ever anxious about the idea of getting rich, she remembered that Jack’s father was writing books, and brought his son the San Francisco Call, where a contest for the best story was announced, and the winner was promised a twenty-five dollar prize. Jack, without hesitation, settled down immediately at the kitchen table, and a day later the story was ready – “Typhoon off the Japanese coast.” He received the first prize and was published in the newspaper on November 12, 1893, and the reviewer wrote in the same newspaper: “The most striking thing is the scope, deep understanding, expressiveness and power. Everything betrays a young master, ”not suspecting that the master is a seventeen-year-old teenager who has not even graduated from high school. But, unfortunately, the twenty-five dollars of premium went very quickly, and Jack continued to work in the factory.
In the spring of 1894, great unrest occurred in the United States (the period of the American crisis).
Huge unemployed crowds led by Kelly traveled from California to Washington to ask the government for help. At this time, Jack leaves the jute factory, hires a stoker for a power plant, and, upon learning of such an impending mass march of the unemployed, decides to become one of the soldiers of this “Kelly army”.
Catching up with Kelly’s army on occasional trains, he traveled free of charge to almost all of America, visiting Chicago, Boston, Washington, New York. During these wanderings, he nailed himself to the gang of teenagers who taught him how to “knock on the small one on the main course”, that is, to kneel on the central street, how to “ride” a booze, “clean a tight knot”, “shave off” an expensive hat from his head the passerby yawned … His language was enriched by such words as “bulls”, “pharaohs”, “zagrebaly”, “green dudes” and the like. This adolescent experience is included in his book The Road. After all, London never got to Washington, and as a result of his vagrancy, he went to prison and spent a month. In prison, he saw “things incredible and monstrous”, listened to “incredible, monstrous stories” about the arbitrariness of police and courts. Now he understood why, having been released, the former prisoners were not trying to seek justice and, having humbled and calmed down, decided to “not make noise” and “wash away”. Jack London recognized the class nature of American justice, as they say, in his own skin.
Perhaps this event made him return to the sailor and returned home to Auckland. Months of wanderings made the young man think seriously about the future. And now, being at home, Jack takes over the books. He reads the pages of the “Communist Manifesto” as a revelation, puts the most interesting thoughts in the notebook, emphasizes the final lines in bold lines.
Jack firmly decides to become a socialist and again sits at his school desk at the age of nineteen, which has embarrassed him. And on Saturdays and Sundays, he earns a random assignment. But not only does he do floor and window washing in his spare time. He begins writing articles and essays on a regular basis in a school journal.
Being in high school made Jack anxious – he was three to four years older than his classmates. The students did not approve of his work as a janitor and were wary of even his journalism activities.
At the same time he is interested in the then fashionable socialist doctrine, read out by the writings of the Utopian socialists, the “Manifesto of the Communist Party” by Marx and Engels. It was during this period that he became a member of the Auckland branch of the Socialist Labor Party. He could now often be seen at various rallies.
One day, in 1895, he climbs on a bench and makes a fervent speech, and he is arrested. Local newspapers have widely covered the case, calling Jack a “socialist youth,” and many in America have known him for many years by this nickname. The story came to an end many years later, when, after the death of Jack London, the mayor of Oakland planted an oak tree in honor of the writer-socialist at the very place where he was arrested in 1895.
But it happened decades later, and while many of his acquaintances from “decent families” were horrified to read in the next issue of the school magazine his article “Optimism, pessimism and patriotism”: “Americans, patriots and optimists. and bring education to the masses! ” Needless to say, after that the doors of many houses were closed in front of him. But Jack did not grieve; he was still in the family of the Applegate engineer, whom he met at the Auckland club, with his son and daughter Mabel, with whom he had a friendly relationship.
Mabel is a fragile, bewildered creature with impeccable manners and neatly laid-out university knowledge in a pretty head. He fell in love with her with all the fervor of age and worshiped her as a deity. This whole story will be reflected in his most famous book, Martin Eden. “In almost every country in the world, I have met authors who have assured themselves that, owing to their impetus and determination to become writers, they owe it to reading Martin Eden …,” says Irving Stone, a biographer of Jack London.
But, perhaps, for Jack London himself, the decisive “impulse” to become famous as a writer and get rich was to love Mabel. However, this impulse could be love for any other girl, just Mabel brilliantly coped with the role played by fate – its indecision and class prejudice involuntarily spur the ambition of the aspiring writer.
In 1896, he left school and spent nineteen hours a day reading his books, preparing for admission to the University of California at Berkeley. Jack passed the exams successfully, but only one semester was studied due to lack of funds: mother and stepfather had to be kept.
Again, he faces a huge problem – what to make a living? And Jack is determined to become a professional writer. Spending the last penny on postage stamps, he begins to send through the magazines his stories and essays, humorous couplets and sociological articles, but none of them are accepted for printing. The need makes him go to work at the Belmont Academy Laundry. A future writer who will glorify America all over the world has been washing, starching and ironing the underwear of students, teachers and their wives for eighty hours a week. On Sunday, he was only capable of getting some sleep.
From this impasse, he was snatched by the Klondike gold rush: from the newspapers he learns that gold was found in Klondike in Alaska, and immediately there was a flood of seekers of earnings and adventures. The Gold Rush forces Jack to quit his studies and for a short while, on July 25, 1897, London, together with Shepard, the husband of Eliza’s half-sister, sails for money from their mortgaged house aboard the Umatilla ship in Klondike, Alaska for gold. On the ship, they sailed from San Francisco to the city of Skagway, then a tedious passage through the Chilkut Pass. To pay the porters Indians for half a dollar for every pound of cargo they could not – so, it was necessary to ferry all the equipment and provisions on itself. Jack was ready for such a test. But Shepard, 60, bought a ticket for a return flight to San Francisco.
Jack and his companions – Thompson, the miner Goodman and the carpenter Sloper – had to smuggle eight thousand pounds for many hundreds of miles up the Yukon River. That’s where Jack’s physical strength, knowledge of the maritime business, snubbing and endurance have come in handy. But the four friends failed to reach their destination before the winter began: the confluence of the Yukon and the Stuart River had to winterize only seventy miles from Dawson.
“There is no God but the Case, and Good luck is his prophet,” so paraphrased Jack London’s once famous saying, In the winter of 1897 – 1898, chance and luck accompanied an unlucky gold prospector. He did not find gold, but it was then that he met the heroes of his future stories. For a long Arctic night, hunters and adventurers, Indians and gold-diggers, vagabonds and drunks spent time in conversation at Jack’s hut. The life stories they told, at times unimaginable, but most of them amazing and fairy-tale, firmly settled in Jack’s memory to go to the pages of his life-affirming books in the near future. At the same time, Jack London studied Marx’s Capital and Darwin’s Origin of Species.
After suffering from scurvy, London was forced to return to San Francisco. He brought with him not gold sand, but sketches to the stories and stories that went into the gold fund of American and world literature.
Returning from Klondike without a penny in his pocket, Jack London learned that he had died to his stepfather, whom he passionately loved. All the worries about the family lay on his shoulders. He only occasionally managed to do casual work – the West experienced the effects of the crisis. After buying stamps for the latest money, Jack sends out his short stories to magazines, but they always come back. Jack puzzles, he stubbornly studies published stories, re-reads books by his favorite authors – Robert Stevenson and Rudyard Kipling, tries to unravel the secret of Ambrose Beers’ success. His admiration is evoked by the talent of the Stevenson storyteller; at Beers, he notes “the brilliance of metallic intellectualism,” which “appeals to the mind, but not to the heart.”
His observations of that period testify to a deep understanding of the creative originality of different writers, and to the ability to appreciate the general state of contemporary American literature. Full of life, full of vibrant characters, written in vibrant, lively language, stories and short stories in London, it was difficult to break into the pages of magazines dominated by anemic, sentimental characters. He notes with bitterness in one of his letters that the fate of the writer in the United States is determined by “an innocent American girl who should by no means be shocked and who cannot be offered anything less fresh than mare’s milk.”
The sharp discrepancy between authentic life and its image on the pages of American literary magazines in the late nineteenth century was noted by another prominent American realist writer – Theodore Dreiser. Ambrose Vire described the literary San Francisco of that time as a “paradise place for the ignorant and obtuse” as a “correctional colony of morals.” In the essay “How to start printing” London described his situation during this period: “… let me say that I had only liabilities and no assets, had no income, had to feed several mouths, and as for the housekeeper. she was a poor widow, whose necessities of life strongly dictated the need to pay rent to a certain extent on a regular basis. That was my financial situation when I dressed in armor and opposed magazines. ”
Jack was so weak from malnutrition that he could hardly get up from the table where he wrote his stories. The rags to which his clothes had turned did not even allow him to visit his beloved Mabel. It was not the first time that he had been visited by the thought of suicide;
The development of the “black genre” was interrupted by an unexpected letter from the well-known literary magazine “Transcontinental Monthly” with the news of the publication of the story “For those who are on the way!” where the story was also taken. A solid “Monthly” for one of his best stories paid a fee of five dollars, and a non-solid “Black Cat” for a passing story – forty! For Jack London at the time, it was a fortune. The difficulties are not over, but literary luck has already found its way into his home.
So in the January issue of Transcontinental Monthly (Overland Mansley), Jack Jack’s first story in 1899 saw the story of Jack Westondale, a simple yet complicated story. Other contributors and witnesses to this story – and above all Mailmut Kid – were destined to soon be reborn in the pages of the writer’s new stories, which would constitute his first compilation “Son of the Wolf”, where the Klondike experience went. Criticism was choked with praise: “a great, powerful artist …”; “Inspires the reader to believe in human courage …”; “In contrast to the standard-happy endings, he is dominated by tragic intonations where a person fights the natural forces of nature …”. The Son of the Wolf was put by reviewers on the power of the human spirit even above Kipling, the beloved writer of the time, whom Jack London regarded as his teacher, but it would only happen in a few years.
When the magazine with its first story came out of print, Jack London looked at the kiosk for a long time, then went to a friend, took ten cents, and finally became the owner of a priceless copy of the magazine. Although the Overland Mansley paid little for five to eight dollars for the stories, and very carelessly, the writer sends a second story, White Silence, which is printed in the February issue of the magazine.
Thus, 1899 was a turning point in the fate of Jack London: during the year stories and essays by the writer appeared in several magazines and newspapers not only in the West but also in the East.
Known for its high literary demands, the Boston-based Atlantic Mansley Magazine (The Atlantic Monthly) takes the story of The Northern Odyssey, published in January 1900, into print. In the same year, the respectable Boston publishing house Houghton Mifflin released the compilation Son of the Wolf, which combined nine stories of the so-called “Northern” cycle. The publication of a book in London in conservative Boston, long considered the literary center of the country, meant unequivocal recognition of the writer. It was a distinctive phenomenon in the literature of the United States of the period, radically different from romantic stories written in full accordance with the requirements of the “tradition of misogyny.”
“Son of the Wolf” is a cruel book about a man’s fierce struggle for existence – with another man, with the “white silence” of nature, trying to “prove to man his worthlessness”, with the primal fury of the beast. Not every person emerges victorious from this struggle, and “those who have repeatedly shared a bed with death will recognize her call.” Because of the stupid coincidence, Mason is terribly crippled, and his friend Mile-mute Kid ends his inhuman suffering by firing at a stop (“White Silence”). Unable to stand the loneliness and hardships of life in the North, they kill each other Carter Weatherby and Percy Katfert (“In the Far Land”), Sitka Charlie crushes with his companions the Indians Ka-Rumor and Gouhi, who violated the law of the North – took a handful of flour (” Wisdom of the Snow Trail “). From the pages of the book, a cruel and at the same time simple life stood up to the readers, people needed endurance and courage, willpower and endurance. The most courageous survive – that is the meaning of the stories
Characteristic and the manner in which these stories are written The narration is guided and vigorous, the author expresses neither sympathy, nor dislikes, neither conclusions nor generalizations. It opens the veil as if it were over one, then over the other picture, and gives the reader to judge for himself what he has seen and heard. The factuality of the story is beyond doubt, it becomes clear from the first words of the narrative. that the author is well aware of the people who describe him and the circumstances in which they find themselves. The vitality and authenticity of London’s stories set them apart from most of the pseudo-romantic stories that have filled the pages of many publications.
In general, this period was a turning point in the history of American literature. Together with the first collection of stories by Jack London in the same 1900, he saw the light and Theodore Dreiser’s novel “Sister Kerry”. a work that was about to open a new page in a book of American literature. Just a few “five before, such realistic works as Stephen Crane’s novel Maggie – The Girl from the Street (1893), Frank Norris’s novel” MacTig “(1899) were published. It is remarkable that Norris was the first to pay attention to that” beautiful and irresistible ” the wrestling spirit “of Kipling’s works, which so attracted Jack London.
In the reviews of the first book in London, critics have emphasized. that the stories collected in it are “full of fire and emotion.” Noting in the young author’s works that Kipling’s “power of imagination and dramatic roller coaster”, critics could not help but notice that his stories distinguish “a sense of tenderness and a clear love of heroism, which can rarely be found in Kipling’s “.
The book diverged well, several young publications drew attention to the young author. Even before the publication of the book, the monthly magazine “McClures Megesin” acquired from the writer several of his stories and gave his consent to the purchase of everything he wrote. The American story goes back to a new stage of its development.
Even before Jack London, great masters of the story were created in American literature – the romantics Edgar Poe and Nathaniel Gottori, later – Francis Brett Hart, Steven Crane, Ambrose Vere, who tore the bonds of “the tradition of zealotry. But perhaps it is Jack Londonotonism who has the credit” American story – it became the property of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people of America.Jack London was able to combine in his stories the eternal feelings and experiences of man with his modern reality.