Book of da Week: Jack London’s The Call of the Wild

Jack London's The Call of the Wild
Jack London’s pretty darned excellent The Call of the Wild.

The Call of the Wild is a really wild novella written by Jack London and published in 1903. We covered it in one of our daft posts last year (which contemplated why Jack London wasn’t from London), but 12 months on we’re giving it the proper attention it deserves.

At a slight 100 pages, London hammers home a brutal tale of a domesticated dog, Buck, going very wild indeed. It’s classic storytelling achieved through the writer’s experiences and love of the beasts whom dominate this tale (or should that be… tail?! *we pause as the polite, but contemptuous, laughter subsides*).

The Call of the Wild

This is the plot: Leading a comfortable life in California (that’s in America, people), Buck is half inched by some cad and sold to dog traders. Eventually saved by a kindly man named John Thornton, Buck enters the Klondike gold rush era and becomes a figure of strength and loyalty to Mr. Thornton. As events continue to take brutal turns, Buck comes to terms with his instincts and looks wistfully to the wild, wondering if he should go “full dog” and embrace his roots.

We’ve written that synopsis in a deliberately simplistic way so as not to ruin the plot, but we are also simple. Look at our blog’s name! Anyway, this is London’s most famous work and it is, frankly, one absolutely everybody should read.

It’s a quite chilling story about primitive instincts and the clash of modern humans versus our prehistoric roots. At turns frightening yet fascinating, it’ll make the hairs you would still have had 100,000 years ago stand up on the back of your neck (unless you have a hairy back and the hairs are still there)!

We’ve championed some books as “read this, even if you don’t like reading” (such as Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London) material, and this is another excellent example. If you don’t read books, want to, but don’t know where to start, then here is one solution – The Call of the Wild. It’ll make you sit back and go, “Cripes! I should have read this decades ago!” And then you’ll cry about your stupid, former philistine ways. There there, dear, you’re going to be fine now!

8 comments

    • I’m reading Moby Dick for the first time right now and, cripes, it’s fantastic. Indeed, London’s writing style isn’t near Melville’s, but as a novella I think it can stand proudly on four legs and bark like a proud woof dog.

    • Groovy! A bewitching book to read as a youngin’ I’m sure. When I was younger I pretended to be a Velociraptor (this was after seeing Jurassic Park – way back in 1993). It was pretty straight forward: Snarl, hiss, jump, and decapitate. Yeah, they put me in a Young Offenders Institute…

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