Jack London writing "The Sea-Wolf", 1904
A century after his death at 40, the name Jack London and adventure remain nearly synonymous. Outspoken and defiant, the writer stuffed a bounty of living into a short life, and many of his works such as The Call of the Wild, To Build a Fire, and Koolau the Leper are reflections of that thirst for experience.
As an adolescent London prowled the Oakland waterfront and was an oyster pirate on San Francisco Bay. By 17 he had traversed the Pacific and visited Japan on a seal-hunting voyage. He crisscrossed North America as a hobo in 1894. After dropping out of college, he joined the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897, where, instead of real gold, he snatched a hoard of experiential loot for his fiction. In 1904 he journeyed to Korea to report on the Russo-Japanese War, and three years later began a voyage to the South Seas on his self-designed ketch, the Snark.
In addition, he was an ardent documentary photographer, a progressive rancher, and an early advocate for animal rights. Concepts from Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer surface in his works, and for all his travel and writing, it was London’s intellectual journey that was the most significant adventure path he ever travelled. Join Kenneth Brandt, a professor of English at the Savannah College of Art and Design, as he examines a writer whose life was as thrilling and eventful as any of his novels.
Brandt is executive coordinator of the Jack London Society and editor of its magazine, The Call.