Must be read by the youth, housewives, students and executives.
It was in Reno, Nevada, in the summer of 1892. Also, it was fair-time, and the town was filled with petty crooks and tin-horns, to say nothing of a vast and hungry horde of hoboes. It was the hungry hoboes that made the town a "hungry" town. They "battered" the back doors of the homes of the citizens until the back doors became unresponsive.
A hard town for "scoffings," was what the hoboes called it at that time. I know that I missed many a meal, in spite of the fact that I could "throw my feet" with the next one when it came to "slamming a gate" for a "poke-out" or a "set-down," or hitting for a "light piece" on the street. Why, I was so hard put in that town, one day, that I gave the porter the slip and invaded the private car of some itinerant millionnaire. The train started as I made the platform, and I headed for the aforesaid millionnaire with the porter one jump behind and reaching for me. It was a dead heat, for I reached the millionnaire at the same instant that the porter reached me. I had no time for formalities. "Gimme a quarter to eat on," I blurted out. And as I live, that millionnaire dipped into his pocket and gave me ... just ... precisely ... a quarter. It is my conviction that he was so flabbergasted that he obeyed automatically, and it has been a matter of keen regret ever since, on my part, that I didn't ask him for a dollar. I know that I'd have got it. I swung off the platform of that private car with the porter manoeuvring to kick me in the face. He missed me. One is at a terrible disadvantage when trying to swing off the lowest step of a car and not break his neck on the right of way, with, at the same time, an irate Ethiopian on the platform above trying to land him in the face with a number eleven. But I got the quarter! I got it!
Dark it was, but she made no mistake, the familiar sag and screeching reproach of the front gate welcome under her hand. She went along the narrow walk to the rear, avoided the missing step without thinking about it, and entered the kitchen, where a solitary gas-jet flickered. She turned it up to the best of its flame. It was a small room, not disorderly, because of lack of furnishings to disorder it. The plaster, discolored by the steam of many wash-days, was crisscrossed with cracks from the big earthquake of the previous spring. The floor was ridged, wide-cracked, and uneven, and in front of the stove it was worn through and repaired with a five-gallon oil-can hammered flat and double. A sink, a dirty roller-towel, several chairs, and a wooden table completed the picture.
An apple-core crunched under her foot as she drew a chair to the table. On the frayed oilcloth, a supper waited. She attempted the cold beans, thick with grease, but gave them up, and buttered a slice of bread.
The rickety house shook to a heavy, prideless tread, and through the inner door came Sarah, middle-aged, lop-breasted, hair-tousled, her face lined with care and fat petulance....
Eden represents writers' frustration with publishers by speculating that when he mails off a manuscript, a "cunning arrangement of cogs" immediately puts it in a new envelope and returns it automatically with a rejection slip. The central theme of Eden's developing artistic sensibilities places the novel in the tradition of the Künstlerroman, in which is narrated the formation and development of an artist.
Eden differs from London in that Eden rejects socialism, attacking it as "slave morality", and relies on a Nietzschean individualism. In a note to Upton Sinclair, London wrote, "One of my motifs, in this book, was an attack on individualism (in the person of the hero). I must have bungled, for not a single reviewer has discovered it."
It was a quiet night in the Shovel.
At the bar, which ranged along one side of the large chinked-log room, leaned half a dozen men, two of whom were discussing the relative merits of spruce-tea and lime-juice as remedies for scurvy.
They argued with an air of depression and with intervals of morose silence. The other men scarcely heeded them.
In a row, against the opposite wall, were the gambling games.
The crap-table was deserted.
One lone man was playing at the faro-table. The roulette-ball was not even spinning, and the gamekeeper stood by the roaring, red-hot stove, talking with the young, dark-eyed woman, comely of face and figure, who was known from Juneau to Fort Yukon as the Virgin.
Three men sat in at stud-poker, but they played with small chips and without enthusiasm, while there were no onlookers....
A vast silence reigned over the land.
The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness.
There was a hint in it of laughter, but of a laughter more terrible than any sadness--a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility.
It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life.
It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild.
But there _was_ life, abroad in the land and defiant.
Down the frozen waterway toiled a string of wolfish dogs.
Their bristly fur was rimed with frost.
Their breath froze in the air as it left their mouths, spouting forth in spumes of vapour that settled upon the hair of their bodies and formed into crystals of frost.
Leather harness was on the dogs, and leather traces attached them to a sled which dragged along behind.
The sled was without runners.
It was made of stout birch-bark, and its full surface rested on the snow....
Chafing at custom's chain;
Again from its brumal sleep
Wakens the ferine strain."
Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tide-water dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego. Because men, groping in the Arctic darkness, had found a yellow metal, and because steamship and transportation companies were booming the find, thousands of men were rushing into the Northland. These men wanted dogs, and the dogs they wanted were heavy dogs, with strong muscles by which to toil, and furry coats to protect them from the frost.
Buck lived at a big house in the sun-kissed Santa Clara Valley. Judge Miller's place, it was called. It stood back from the road, half hidden among the trees, through which glimpses could be caught of the wide cool veranda that ran around its four sides. The house was approached by gravelled driveways which wound about through wide-spreading lawns and under the interlacing boughs of tall poplars. At the rear things were on even a more spacious scale than at the front. There were great stables, where a dozen grooms and boys held forth, rows of vine-clad servants' cottages, an endless and orderly array of outhouses, long grape arbors, green pastures, orchards, and berry patches. Then there was the pumping plant for the artesian well, and the big cement tank where Judge Miller's boys took their morning plunge and kept cool in the hot afternoon....
"If nothing else makes Mr. London's book popular, it ought to be rendered so by the complete way in which it will satisfy the love of dog fights apparently inherent in every man."
— The New York Times
"…untouched by bookishness... The making and the achievement of such a hero [Buck] constitute, not a pretty story at all, but a very powerful one."
— The Atlantic Monthly
A gripping, fast-paced tale of adventure, The Call of the Wild focuses on Buck, a pampered sheepdog stolen from a California ranch and endures a harrowing journey into the Yukon. He is sold to men who use dogs to pull sleds carrying mail to the gold prospectors in Alaska.
In the course of this story, Buck tangles with other dogs, the forces of nature and packs of wolves. He must deal with human brutality and hardship but eventually claims his own nature as a wild creature after being cared for by a rough but kind man.
This book is a riveting experience, written by a true master of literature.
About the Publisher
Authors Jacob Nordby and Aaron Patterson founded Stonehenge Classics to restore timeless classics for the digital age and provide modern readers with new reasons to rediscover books that connect us to our past treasures of truth, beauty, and wisdom.
More Titles in the Stonehenge Classics Literature Series
don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie
Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
Kidnapped – Robert Louis Stevenson
The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
Dracula – Bram Stoker
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Washington Irving
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells
and many others...