Jack London: A Very Brief Biography

1360 words - 6 pages

Jack London once said, “I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.” (Jack NP) This represents how London went about his life; he refused to be average and traveled the world in adventure and curiosity. London lived in the realistic time period and his writings reflect that. Realists attempt to portray life as it is and describe events as accurately as possible (Lipking NP). Another indication that London was a realist is the fact that realists do not distort events to agree with their views; he was an active socialist, but by reading any of London’s work, one could not tell (Lipking NP). His works of literature include very realistic, down-to-earth events and messages, but what separates London from every other writer in the realistic time period is his naturalistic side. Most of his stories contain some aspect of nature’s power and how humans must adapt. Early events in London’s life affected his views which lead to the deep, meaningful messages portrayed through the stories of one of America’s greatest writers.
Jack London was not born into a life of luxury, but the struggles he faced as a child and young adult shaped him into a timeless relic of literature. Due to many odd jobs he performed growing up, London decided that manual labor was not his passion and sought to contribute his talents otherwise (Jack NP). He enrolled into the University of California at Berkeley, but did not finish his education (London NP). He tried to support himself by writing and when he had no success, he was forced into a job at a laundry shop (London NP). After a brief period of working a minimum wage job, London decided to travel to Alaska in search for gold; although he had no luck striking gold, this adventure would serve as the backdrop to many successful novels (London NP). The events that took place in Alaska developed London’s view of “survival of the fittest,” as well as the idea that nature is tremendously powerful and humans must adapt. London’s conflicting views changed the literary world; it offered an interesting perspective that had not been presented yet. He honored the power of nature, but, unlike the Transcendentalists, did not describe it as divine and he also introduced the realism aspect that humans have the ability to adapt and live with the commanding forces of nature. This philosophy is logical; it gives praise to the land we live on, but also motivates humans to use their minds and not fall limp to the world around us. London was born right in the middle of the Realism time period and his writings gave rise to its ideals worldwide. He wrote many works of literature (short stories, novels, plays) that were greatly accepted and appreciated by people of his time and still valued today.
One of London’s best works, “To Build a Fire” is a short story about a man and his dog traveling in the Yukon who fall helpless to the overpowering forces of nature. James Feast wrote a critical...

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