A review by jackwwang
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London


My dad always liked this book, and I don't think I got much out of it reading it in high school. Second time around was a better experience.

London's prose harkens back to the 19th century world of ornate literature. I looked up way more words in this book than any novella of comparable length. As a fan of Hemingway I would normally be turned off from such ostentation, but here it stylistically works, and one forgives the excess decoration for the nosltagically charming sense of a more poetic past it creates.

The ideas behind the novel are also quaintly simplistic and nolstagic. London deals in themes of darwinism, purity of nature, bringing along in full force the romanticization of nature from London's transcendentalist peers. The ennoblizing of the idea of the natural, the wild, the strong are cute as it is applied to a dog here, but with a little reflection I realized they bear a distrubing similarity to Nietsche's ubermensch and any of Ayn Rand's protagonists. One then would realize that these connections are not just innocent, it was the same strain of thought that drove the social darwinsm which around the time of this book's publication drove experiments in eugenic sterilizations, and justified oppression and mistreatment of out-groups.

Read with caution, enjoy the prose, but beware the lurking insidiousness.