The Call of the Wild
written by Jack London
The Folio Society | ISBN 698743265124
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‘He saw, once for all, that he stood no chance against a man with a club … The facts of life took on a fiercer aspect; and while he faced that aspect uncowed, he faced it with all the latent cunning of his nature aroused’
The Call of the Wild opens during the Alaskan gold rush ‘in the fall of 1897, when the Klondike strike dragged men from all the world into the frozen North’. Not just men but dogs are required, strong pack animals with long coats to pull sleighs full of gold ore and provisions. Buck, a 140-pound cross-breed, is stolen from his comfortable home in California and sold into a life of slavery. He is passed from owner to owner, brutally clubbed and whipped, and forced to drag backbreaking loads over thin ice. After being beaten nearly to death, he is rescued by a prospector named John Thornton, who earns Buck’s passionate devotion. In Thornton’s care Buck flourishes, and becomes the most famous pack dog in all Alaska. But when the tie with Thornton is broken, Buck escapes the world of humans and fulfils his destiny to become a leader of wolves.
Readers who first encountered The Call of the Wild as children will find re-reading it richly rewarding. The story is moving, its themes powerful and elemental: the thin line that divides civilisation from nature, the relationship between humans and animals, and the true meaning of strength, both mental and physical. It is also a great adventure story; a classic American tale of a drifter and survivor. Jack London himself took part in the Yukon Gold Rush in 1903, aged just 21, and three years later The Call of the Wild was published to immediate acclaim. London’s writing would prove to be a great influence on authors such as Jack Kerouac and George Orwell, directly inspiring Kerouac’s On the Road. David Vann, author of the bestselling Legend of a Suicide, set in the Alaskan wilderness, has contributed a new introduction to this edition, and Abigail Rorer’s illustrations are thrillingly evocative of the frozen Yukon.
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