Usually, I skip the “Introduction” section of a book mostly due to impatience – when I’m ready to start reading the book I just want to start reading the book. Also, sometimes, especially in a critical edition, the intro contains “spoilers” which I don’t want to know and/or tells me how someone else has interpreted the book, which I don’t really want to know (yet anyway!) either.
But for whatever reason I decided to read the introduction to The Call of the Wild, which I am re-reading in the context of HBO’s recent hit drama series “The Night Of.” This particular introduction is by Alex Kershaw.
I am SO glad I read this intro because I learned some fascinating information.
The gold rush
First it talked about how Jack London went to the Klondike region for the gold rush. He didn’t end up finding any gold. What did he find instead? Characters and stories. These characters and stories played out for years in his fiction. He said:
“It was in the Klondike that I found myself. There, nobody talks. Everybody thinks. You get your perspective. I got mine.”
When he returned from not finding gold, he couldn’t find a real job so he went into a writing frenzy. Finally, he was offered a job at the post office, a good paying stable job. He didn’t take it. But not because he didn’t consider taking it; he didn’t take the job because his mom told him not to. She had faith in his writing and told him to keep writing. Wow!!
The big break
His big break, then came with an article in The Atlantic Monthly. I was so happy to hear this because I love The Atlantic.
This intro refers to it as “the most haughty literary magazine in the United States.” Ha!!
He then published the novella Call of the Wild to great acclaim, and he made a fortune, more than any other writer in history, at this time.
Interesting fact: He was a socialist.
Here comes the sad part: He became disillusioned with the fame and fortune and died at age 40, perhaps by suicide.
Reading this intro, I know, will enhance my appreciation of this famous novella.
The Night Of
As of now I have only read one chapter, but as for reading it in the context of its multiple mentions in HBO’s The Night Of, the similarities between Buck and Naz are, thus far, eerie. And this will likely be the topic of my next post so stay tuned.
In the meantime, I urge you to watch The Night Of!
This information on Jack London is paraphrased from a Signet Classic Edition published in 1998.
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