Jack London's Naturalism

Topics: Management, Sociology, Marketing, Morality, Law, United States / Pages: 22 (5435 words) / Published: Aug 28th, 2010
Jack London's Naturalism:
The Example of The Call of the Wild by Earl J. Wilcox BOTH JACK LONDON'S intentions and his accomplishments in The Call of the Wild account for the artistic success of the book. For the story which London intended to write—about a dog who merely reverts to the wild—developed into a full, 32,000 word novel. And the simplicity intended in the implicit atavism in the dog's reversion also became a more complex discussion than London apparently bargained for. But a fortuitous combination of events led London to produce the most popular and the best piece of fiction he ever wrote. Thus while he gauged his audience accurately in writing a popular account of Darwinian literature, at the same time the novel gave him an opportunity to explore the philosophical ideas which had been fermenting in his mind but which he had not found opportunity to express in full in his fiction.Joan London reports her father as saying that he did not recognize “the human allegory in the dog's life-and-death struggle to adapt himself to a hostile environment.”1 And even after he had reread his story several times, he allegedly said, “I plead guilty, but I was unconscious of it at the time, I did not mean to do it.” (Joan London, 252) London's disclaimer has been eagerly accepted by critics who point to the discrepancies in both his plot and his philosophy. Indeed Miss London accepts her father's reported statement as fact, as does, apparently, Roy W. Carlson, and others who can find little to praise in even London's finest work.2 But London was aware of his intentions in the novel, at least in some of the “allegorical” aspects. For sometime later, in defending himself against charges of President Theodore Roosevelt and John Burroughs, who had accused him of being a “nature-faker,” London states his artistic purpose in The Call of the Wild and White Fang:I have been guilty of writing two animal stories—two books about dogs. The writing of these two stories, on my

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