The Call of the Wild


Introduction and Background

Jack London was born John Griffith Chaney on January 12, 1876, in San Francisco, California. London’s mother was single, as she had been abandoned by his birth father. His mother married relatively quickly after London’s birth, and he took his last name from his mother’s husband. London had an interesting personal life, and has a reputation as both a womanizer and an alcoholic, though his reputation seems to be greatly exaggerated. There is also disagreement regarding London’s death; he died on November 22, 1916, and the circumstances of his death suggest a drug overdose. In reality, London suffered from renal colic during his lifetime, a condition that prompted the use of morphine, so that, if he did die of an overdose, there is a good chance the overdose was accidental. However, because so many of London’s work featured suicides, speculation persists that his death may have been a suicide.

London focused much of his effort as a writer on adventure stories. In fact, he was one of the first fiction authors that was able to make a living from his writing. He is most famous for his stories that were set during the Klondike Gold Rush, including The Call of the Wild and White Fang. Though they are two separate stories with no overlapping characters, the two novels are frequently considered companion novels because of the way that they explore the concepts of civilization and wilderness. The Call of the Wild, which he sold to The Saturday Evening Post and Macmillan in 1903, is probably the most famous of his novels.

The Call of the Wild is one of those novels that can be read on two levels; at the basic level, it is an adventure story that describes life in the Klondike gold rush from the perspective of a sled dog, while on a more complex level it describes the basic conflict between civilization and nature. The novel focuses on Buck, a pet that is first transformed into a sled dog and struggles with the call of nature and the desire to leave behind all human companionship. It is considered a...

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