The Man Who Would Be Jack London


After months of communicating over the phone and exchanging emails, I made my way to Jack London State Historic Park’s visitor’s center.

I had rented a car and driven from San Francisco to Sonoma County, the site of London’s Beauty Ranch and the location where the author passed away in 1916 due to his hard-living lifestyle.

As I waited, a pickup truck pulled up and I noticed the license plate was framed with Mike Wilson as Jack London.

I was sure that I had found the preeminent Jack London impersonator I had been searching for.

I first encountered The Call of the Wild when it was among the collection of four-legged weepers on my bookshelf, including Old Yeller, The Incredible Journey, and Where the Red Fern Grows.

When I asked around, I found that people knew Jack London as the author of dog stories, but very few had read any of his other fifty works, which went beyond animals.

London used his thousand words a day to address matters such as poverty and class disparity, the potential for authoritarianism, Darwinism and eugenics, prohibition and alcoholism, and the status of the freedom-seeking individual in an industrialized world.

His popularity was so widespread that he has been called the first celebrity of America. Despite this, during my decade-long studies of literature, I was never assigned any of London’s books.

Prior to my journey to Sonoma’s Valley of the Moon, I had been avidly reading Jack London’s books, which were not typically available at the local bookstore.

His writing style and its portrayal of violence, death and action provided the foundation for what would later be known as Hemingwayesque literature, found in the novels of Cormac McCarthy.

Similarly, London’s essays and science fiction stories were the precursor to anti-totalitarian works such as 1984, Brave New World and It Can’t Happen Here.

His tales of wandering and freedom were what likely inspired the Beat writers.

In the New York Times Book Review, E. L. Doctorow declared Jack London to be the “most widely read American author worldwide.”

Indeed, his works have been translated into more languages than that of any other American writer; The Call of the Wild has been rendered into eighty languages.

Collections of London stories in Russian have sold 200,000 copies in the initial printing, and he even appears on the cover of an Albanian anthology of American literature with Mark Twain.

At the end of his life, Lenin requested his wife to read him a Jack London tale.

In America, Jack London is honored with a postage stamp and a pedestrian mall in his hometown of Oakland, California.

Jack London Square, once a port in disrepair, is now a lively spot with restaurants, stores, hotels, entertainment, and other recreational activities.

For $350, people can purchase a “Wolf Track,” a bronze marker inscribed with a personal message akin to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The area was deserted when I visited, with an abandoned T. G. I. Friday’s and a few Wolf Tracks with loving messages like, “Peanut, A giant of a dog, Love, Eddie.”

There is a high school and a youth soccer league named after the author, and Kenwood Vineyards produces a “Jack London Series” of wine featuring his signature and a wolf drawing.

The grapes are grown in the Valley of the Moon, which was once the location of London’s ranch.

The legacy of Jack London has been left to a varied group of people, including hobbyists, self-learners, marketeers, lesser academics, self-publishers, and devotees.

This is why I found myself in a Sonoma parking lot, expecting a fifty-six-year-old Jack London impersonator, composer of Jack London-related music, writer of a book called Jack London’s Klondike Adventures, and the 2005 Jack London Man of the Year as proclaimed by the Glen Ellen, California-based Jack London Foundation.

When I inquired about attending one of his performances, he responded with: “No, at this point there are no Jack London performances planned for either of those dates; that is why I am accessible.

So, if it’s agreeable with you, I will come as Mike Wilson.”

I was grateful to spend any time with him. However, I was let down when Wilson emerged from the vehicle as himself rather than wearing his usual ensemble–boots, a white suit, and a Stetson hat.

He was wearing jeans, a tie-dyed T-shirt, and shades that got darker in bright sunlight. It was September, a bright and arid morning with the vegetation brown and no signs of trees changing color.

Wilson shook my hand, gave me a friendly greeting, and commented that I had chosen the correct footwear for our hike.

For nearly two decades, Mike Wilson has been portraying Jack London in educational institutions, Masonic lodges, and historical events.

He has even presented for fifteen hundred children in a single day and was contacted by Disney to provide advice for a movie adaptation of White Fang.

When asked about his upcoming performances, he replied that he had nothing confirmed yet. This response surprised me, considering his prior statement about a hectic schedule.

Wilson apparently sensed my confusion.

He informed me, with the last sip of coffee from his travel mug before putting it back in his truck, that he had become a much more determined writer due to the Jack London situation.

He said he used to just write articles for the purpose of getting money, similar to what I do, but he stopped in 1994.

He asked about my physical condition and, after I indicated that I was fit, we began walking on the asphalt pavement.

The morning sun was making the droplets of dew on the ground evaporate.

He then stated confidently, “I make sure that I have a job in the hardware store so I can write whatever I please.”

2. This section explores how to alter the text in order to remove any plagiarism. This involves changing the structure of the text without compromising the context and the semantic meaning of the text. The formatting must be preserved.

It was twenty-five years after I read The Call of the Wild when I became interested in Jack London again, thanks to Irving Stone’s biography Sailor on Horseback from 1938.

Stone portrayed London as a ruggedly romantic hero. He was born to an unmarried spiritualist in San Francisco in 1876, although his father was probably an astrologer who never admitted paternity.

Jack grew up in the poverty of Oakland and had to quit school at thirteen to work in a cannery. By fifteen, he was frequenting waterfront bars, had bought a boat called the Razzle Dazzle, and was catching oysters illegally.

At seventeen, he sailed to Japan to hunt seals, and also worked as a coal shoveler in a jute mill. After a month in prison for vagrancy, he managed to finish high school in one year, and then enrolled at the University of California in Berkeley.

He became known as the “Boy Socialist” due to his speeches at Oakland City Hall Park. London, however, was not suited for college life.

He later commented that “the life there was healthful and athletic, but too juvenile”, as he had already experienced harder times.

He left college when he ran out of money and went to search for gold, but returned home with nothing.

He chose writing as his profession and in 1903 wrote The Call of the Wild, which brought him instant fame and would later sell millions of copies.

Over the course of thirteen years, Jack London produced fifty books and a great many magazine articles.

To craft his best-known work, People of the Abyss, he spent time in the East End of London observing and critiquing industrial capitalism.

Additionally, he reported on wars in Japan and Mexico, and the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

On two occasions, the renowned American presidential candidate Eugene Debs asked London to join his Socialist ticket as his vice president, though London declined both times. Subsequently, he divorced his first wife and wed Charmian Kittredge, who he affectionately referred to as “Mate-woman”.

In 1907, London’s disenchantment with his own success drove him to construct and sail a boat, the Snark , on a seven-year journey around the world.

However, he soon realized the crew he’d gathered weren’t up to the task, and so Jack resolved to teach himself navigation before setting off towards Mexico.

The boat eventually made its way to Australia, but Jack was felled by a tropical ailment and had to end his voyage here.

During his time in California, Jack London was working on establishing an agrarian utopia that incorporated sustainable and organic agricultural practices.

He invited the unemployed to help build the project in exchange for room and board. To discuss philosophy, agriculture, art, and politics, he gathered a diverse group of people around his dining table.

His grandest endeavor was the construction of Wolf House, a mansion made of local volcanic stone and redwood timbers that he thought would last for one thousand years.

Unfortunately, the day before completion, Wolf House was destroyed by a fire.

Scientists determined the cause was the spontaneous combustion of turpentine-soaked cloth, though London speculated it may have been from an enemy’s sabotage or a disgruntled worker.

Jack was deeply distressed. His alcohol intake increased. His muscles weakened.

He was unable to defeat the renal disorder he had contracted while in the South Pacific. In 1916, he passed away from uremic poisoning–kidney failure–at the Beauty Ranch.

Stone recounts his death in Sailor on Horseback as a suicide: “The doctor discovered two vacant vials labelled morphine sulfate and atropine sulfate on the floor of the room; on the night table he found a pad with some figures on it, which indicated the lethal dose of the medicine.”

This was prefigured in London’s novel Martin Eden, in which his self-representative hero, outraged by the bourgeois society that welcomed him, throws himself from the window of a ship’s cabin and plunges to the bottom of the ocean.

In John Barleycorn, his memoir of an alcohol-soaked life, London has a series of hallucinations with “the Noseless One” that center around death.

London devotees, who tend to support the notion of strength and courage, are swift to point out that Irving Stone’s book was full of inaccuracies and exaggerations.

Therefore, the publisher changed its category from biography to Biographical Novel.

Nonetheless, the argument over Jack London’s death fuels the extensive industry about Jack London’s life.

The focus of attention for Jack London enthusiasts is Sonoma County, the location of the state park and the headquarters of the Jack London Foundation.

This organization was established in 1976 by Russ Kingman, a successful advertising professional who ran the World of Jack London Bookstore and Research Center.

Kingman gained recognition as the foremost collector of Jack London books and artifacts during his lifetime.

His 1979 book, A Pictorial Life of Jack London, disproved Irving Stone’s suggestion that the author had committed suicide.

Jack, like any other person who had been suffering from renal colic, had taken morphine.

It is plausible that while enduring the excruciating pain he took an increased dosage of the morphine.

It is feasible that the additional morphine played a role in the coma, but it was actually caused by the accumulation of toxins in his body due to his non-functioning kidneys.

Enthusiasts of London consider this book to be the most precise biography on the topic, but it can only be obtained through a publisher in the Czech Republic.

Since the passing of Kingman, his followers have kept his legacy alive.

Recently, on the Foundation’s website, there was an article titled “A Comparative Study: How Jack London’s Death Was Depicted by Various Biographers” that argued the idea that without any hard proof, it is not necessary to assume Jack London took his own life.

Furthermore, Jack London International, a bilingual website with fans of Jack London and members of his family, featured an essay by Reinhard Wissdorf called “Suicide? Nope!” that described his journey to Beauty Ranch and his realization after viewing London’s death certificate that what he had read in the biographies was false.

Mike Wilson, an impersonator of London, has an additional website that states London’s death certificate states that he died of uremic poisoning and does not include the word suicide.


The third step is to make sure that the structure of the text is changed without compromising the meaning and context of the words. It is important to retain the markdown formatting.

Mike Wilson stated, as we entered the eucalyptus grove that London had planted a century ago, “A lot of those who lack knowledge think that this is one of Jack’s major errors.

In actuality, it was a logical decision.

People say that when you cultivate trees for timber, you shouldn’t place them so close together, but Jack understood that , while those who criticize him do not.”

Wilson pointed out that these trees were planted not for timber, but for the purpose of pier pilings. He then went on to distinguish between two demographics of Jack London admirers.

The “academicians” who just want to psychoanalyze him and his works, and the “blue-collar scholars” who truly appreciate the man himself.

These latter, Wilson referred to as the “brass tacks kind of guys.”

My area of expertise is that I am more knowledgeable about his life than any other person I have encountered.

There are those who believe they have a better grasp of the situation, however, they do not know anything. I am the go-to source when it comes to the life of Jack London.

Wilson pointed out the many parallels between himself and Jack London.

They were both from the working class and had no college education; they both wed women from middle-class families with college degrees; both attempted to make a living from ranching and farming in Sonoma County; and they both attempted to balance writing for money and writing literature.

He stated that there were two key components to understanding Jack London; the first being that he was the first successful author to come from a lower-class background, and the second being that he was a socialist.

Mike declared that if one looked up the word socialist in the dictionary provided by capitalists, it would be described as a kind of communism.

Jack, however, had a different interpretation, saying that it is anyone who attempts to enhance the environment in which they live.

Mike Wilson proposed an easier way to differentiate between the two: those who care for people and those who don’t.

Mike Wilson’s understanding of the term impersonator is concrete.

Even with his re-enactments of London, he believes there is a limit to the physical empathy a living person can have with the deceased writer.

“I have met countless individuals who have declared they are the reincarnation of Jack London, and I have to burst out laughing.

They are usually offended, but neither Jack nor I accept reincarnation in that way.”

As we ventured to the cottage where Jack London had expired, Mike related to me that he had become interested in the author the summer he visited San Francisco during 1967’s Summer of Love.

“It should have been called the Summer of Sex,” he said. “That would have been more accurate.”

Wilson found Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights bookstore where he was introduced to literature and heard a lot of gossip about London–claims of drinking, homosexuality, womanizing and suicide.

Several years later, after he wrote a folk-rock song about London, Wilson was asked to go to Russ Kingman’s bookstore in Glen Ellen.

There, in the hallowed smoke-filled back room with other devoted London fans, he got to know what he thought was the true, and often misunderstood, London.

Mike spoke to me, attempting to dispel any rumors that he was a womanizer. He claimed that the appeal of this man was due to his courteous behavior.

Mike dismissed any allegations of Jack’s homosexuality by citing the sensitivity and eloquence with which he wrote about women.

Wilson was dismissive of the suicide theories, pointing out that someone familiar with Jack’s character would know that he was not the type to give up.

Regarding his professed atheism, Mike provided a direct quotation, “‘My house will be standing, act of God permitting, for a thousand years.’ Does that sound like something an atheist would say?

Not really. If you look it up, Webster got it right.”

Alcoholism is a sensitive topic. In John Barleycorn, London depicts a lifestyle ruined by heavy drinking, solo drinking, and starting off his day with booze–while still maintaining that he is not an alcoholic.

Wilson concurs. “The concept of Jack London as an alcoholic is inaccurate. Don’t believe any of it, alright? Jack London was not an alcoholic, not if you understand what an alcoholic is. He was just someone who drank.

But there is a big distinction between someone who drinks and an alcoholic.”

Wilson had a few stories to back up his argument.

For example, Jack was once known to have trekked across the Yukon with a bottle of whiskey, only to give it to a companion to use as an anesthetic prior to an amputation.

But the most outrageous tale Mike Wilson has ever heard is that Jack used to take a white horse from the ranch to the saloon in Glen Ellen.

There, he would consume copious amounts of alcohol and then, for entertainment, tumble off the same white horse.

Wilson triumphantly exclaimed, “Jack didn’t even possess a white horse! His favourite was a sorrel! Furthermore, Jack kept a fully stocked bar here!

There was no reason to go down there – he wasn’t looking for any visitors.”

I could not help but feel that there were some discrepancies in the argument, so I asked, “Would it be plausible that he just traveled on a horse of a different hue, and that the recollection was mistaken, yet the rest of the tale is factual?”

Wilson gave me a look of disbelief as if I had said something foolish.

“It could have gone any way,” he mused. “It’s hard to be certain of what went down since I wasn’t present.

That’s one of the humbling things about history: unless you were in the company of Alexander, it’s unlikely you can know for sure what occurred.”

We humbly ventured towards the Wolf House ruins. In our path was a vineyard, still kept by a relative of London’s, with its grapes ripe in the autumn sun.

However, Wilson’s annoyance was not soothed by this idyllic view.

He vented his frustrations to me, his voice rising. “Us working-class guys aren’t getting our share of the National Endowment for the Humanities,” he said.

“The only people who do are the ones connected with universities and they get those cushy, high-paying professor jobs.

Meanwhile, Mr. John Q. Public, who’s paying taxes, will never see that money.

It’s really unfair–the professors get a sixty thousand-dollar salary, plus a paid leave of absence and the Endowment gives them money to write a book, and they still own it!” He concluded with a disgusted expression, “That’s a real raw deal!”

Wilson has recently reduced his hours at the hardware store in order to focus more on two projects: a biography on London and a full-length musical.

However, when I inquired about the names of the works, he kept them a secret. Academicians have been a constant annoyance to him.

He stated, “I have experienced more plagiarism of my titles than any other writer I’m acquainted with. It’s not that I don’t like you, but one of the titles has already been stolen for two scholarly papers.

Those two people utilized it just for their studies. However, since they were in the academic world, they did not comprehend what it really conveyed.”

Making our way up the hill, Mike switched things up by walking backwards.

He suggested that I try it as well and offered his reasoning that this method was advantageous in terms of being able to maintain your breath.

He remarked, “It’s a completely different set of muscles.”

Giving a brief acknowledgement, I took extra care in monitoring the inner workings of my chest as it inhaled and exhaled.

Perhaps my companion was accurate in his assertion that the sensation was distinctive.

He made reference to Chilkoot Pass, the iconic trail to the Yukon, that had been the starting point of the journey of London and all gold rushers, while looking at the hill.

I inquired, “Have you visited the place?”

I had the intention of attending the Centennial, however, I could not find a sponsor since I was making only seven dollars per hour and I have a wife and two kids to take care of.

Therefore, it was not possible for me to go.


The fourth step is to make sure that the structure of the text is modified to avoid plagiarism, while still keeping the same context and meaning.

The study of Jack London has not been left solely to independent scholars.

Jeanne Campbell Reesman, from the University of Texas, San Antonio, is the leader of the Jack London Society, which includes dedicated academics and publishes a newsletter called “The Call” and holds a biennial convention focused on Londonalia.

However, the “uncontested godfather” according to Wilson, is Dr. Earle Labor.

He has been teaching American literature at Centenary College of Louisiana, a Methodist college with roughly one thousand students, for more than thirty years.

Labor read a twenty-five-cent paperback version of Martin Eden while in boot camp in the early 1950s and decided to get a Ph.D. and write a dissertation on London.

When he arrived at the University of Wisconsin, the American literature specialist, Frederick Hoffman, refused to direct the dissertation, saying, “Jack London really isn’t a twentieth-century author–and besides, I don’t know that much about him.”

Hoffman had already dismissed London as “an interesting sideshow in the naturalist carnival” in his book The Modern Novel in America.

Labor persevered and in 1974 produced a biographical study of London. He noted that for London to be considered a great writer or a major American author, it “must be won by fair election at the critical polls.”

Labor’s primary objective was “to place London’s name on the ballot.”

It appears that Jack London’s legacy has been preserved for the past thirty years. In 1977, Andrew Sinclair’s biography, Jack, came out and was a best-seller.

Two years later, the Library of America released two collections totaling more than a thousand pages. In 1988, the three-volume Letters of Jack London was published by Stanford University.

Then, five years later, Viking issued The Complete Short Stories, which included 197 stories and was 2,629 pages. In 1994, The Portable Jack London was released, which put him in the same company as Walt Whitman and Mark Twain.

Since 1998, eight books have been reissued as Modern Library Classics. In 1997, St. Martin’s published a new biography written by Alex Kershaw.

I got in touch with Labor while he was taking a break during the summer and working on a biography which Farrar, Straus and Giroux has pointed out as being comprehensive.

“I have been a part of academia for the last five decades and I’m striving to write an authentic book about Jack,” he informed me.

“At the moment, I’m ten years overdue on the agreement, but I’m aiming to finish it this summer.”

Labor has a disdain towards the biographers that have already tackled the life of Jack. In his words, “They have been deficient and even deceptive, with each one of them attempting to capitalize on Jack.

His life is already thrilling enough; there is no need to falsify it.”

Labor has dedicated much of his career to resisting both sensationalism and snobbery. He noted that the New Criticism of the 1940s and ’50s tended to be elitist, favoring authors like T. S. Eliot and Henry James.

However, his work eventually broke through this bias.

He said that Stanford was surprised to see London become part of the Viking series, a process that took him 30 years to accomplish due to a disinterested market. Now, they are doing a second printing.

Labor, who is soon to turn eighty, teaches undergraduate literature classes and has hosted four Jack London seminars sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

He talks of a young African man who was born fatherless into a village, moved to the city, and learned French, and who claims that his will to survive was brought on by reading The Call of The Wild.

While he won’t label London as the greatest American author, he believes that his influence on a global scale may be greater than any other of his compatriots, so he has come up with a different title: Jack London, America’s Most Notable World Novelist.

Martin Eden was apparently the piece that spurred Susan Sontag to become a writer and Labor tells of this with a sense of pride.

Before finishing their conversation, he halted, as if he had just remembered something of great importance.

“Make sure you understand,” he continued, “that there is absolutely no proof that he killed himself.”


The fifth point to bear in mind is that the structure of the text should be altered in order to avoid any plagiarism, while still keeping the same context and meaning.

I initially had my doubts regarding Mike Wilson acting as Jack London since Mike is fifty-six and Jack died at forty.

When I inquired about this discrepancy, Mike replied that their relationship was more profound than I had imagined.

“Beyond the boundaries of age and geography, we share a bond of kinship,” he declared. “Jack is a close companion of mine.

I can relate to him, and I’m sure he’d comprehend me as well. Do you see now?”

At the ruins of Wolf House, a vast and lonely expanse of lava-stone blocks, we stood.

London had been too disheartened to reconstruct the house after the fire, so the blocks remained, two stories high in some places, surrounded by the growing redwoods, which were gradually blotting out the sunshine.

Wilson informed me that when he gave schoolchildren tours, Wolf House was their most beloved spot.

Putting on the Jack costume is like being Santa himself.

There’s something about the character that children instinctively respond to – they just seem to adore the idea of it.

When I first stepped out as Jack, it only took me a few minutes before I was completely taken in by the experience.

Mike Wilson indicated that he had never sought out recognition. He proclaimed, “A lot of folks in the world of Jack London are in it for the glory. I’m not trying to be critical.

Everyone has their ambitions. However, it was never my intention to be honored for my involvement with Jack London.”

But what is it that motivates him to keep at it? It can’t be only the gratuity and the adulation from second-grade students that pushes him onward.

At times, when I’m engaged in certain activities, I become overwhelmed with emotion and I fall apart.

Afterward, I’m completely drained of energy and need to concentrate hard to get back home. I give it all I’ve got, and my wife says: Wow, it’s my husband–but you’re Jack London.

I found it difficult to accept that my friend Wilson had a penchant for channeling spirits, as I had few convincing testimonies of his ability to impersonate Londoners.

A few years ago, when the newspaper and park put together an event, they bypassed Wilson and selected a younger, San Francisco-based actor instead.

Wilson informed me that the actor had more connections and was better known to the park personnel, whereas Wilson was simply a foreigner in the thickets.

I had inquired two park rangers to suggest an impersonator, and both of them, asking me to not disclose their identities, advised me to opt for the other option.

Overcome with anxiety for Mike Wilson, I wondered if all his years of commitment and emotion would be in vain if he was not proficient at it.

My fear of what I might discover was growing, and so I concluded that the only way to find out was to ask Wilson right there, that warm afternoon in the redwood shade of Wolf House, if he would recite a few lines from his act.

I sensed this could be my only opportunity to feel the soul of Jack London in the present moment. Therefore, I decided to take the chance.

I begged as I offered the tape recorder.

6. In this section, the focus is on changing the structure of the text while retaining the same context and semantic meaning. The formatting is to be maintained.

In 2005, the City Council of El Segundo, a middle-class suburb of Los Angeles, refused to approve the proposal by the local librarians to name two new reading rooms after Agatha Christie and Jack London.

The town had previously planned to simply ratify the proposal without debate.

John Gaines, a Councilman, voiced his support for Jack London, mentioning that he had read all his books as a child.

However, he went on to point out that London was known around the world as a communist. Alongside Mayor Kelly McDowell, he voted against the proposal.

Mayor McDowell spoke to the Los Angeles Times and stated that, in his opinion, Jack London’s political beliefs are not seen as mainstream in the present day, especially not in his local community.

He went on to explain that the city he resides in is quite conservative with traditional values.

Although it is accurate that London is looked down upon by those who dictate the literary canon, it is true that he is not favored by anyone.

Aesthetic critics still reject him since he is not as skilled a writer as James or Faulkner; Pete Hamill wrote in a new introduction to John Barleycorn , “Hemingway was a literary artist of great caliber and London was not.”

But those seeking an educational perspective are also displeased, not because of his sometimes awkward style, but because of his political beliefs.

Despite his life embodying the classic American Dream that might please those who seek traditional values in their books, London’s writings criticized this view.

It is very unlikely that someone in a Jack London Reading Room will be able to explain to a twelve-year-old what Ernest Everhard meant when, in The Iron Heel , he told the daughter of a capitalist:

The clothing you have on is smeared with blood. The stew you consume is composed of claret. The liquid of small children and powerful men is dripping from the rafters.

I can close my eyes and I can still hear the sound of the drops hitting the ground everywhere around me.

Those on the left who might be teaching a concept of class struggle find themselves thwarted, unable to explain to their students why London admired the “blond beasts” or why Martin Eden had a particular opinion of the “clever Jew” which symbolizes:

The entirety of the feeble and inept individuals who perished following natural laws on the edges of life were deemed unfit.

Even though they had a shrewd outlook and a propensity to work together in a collective manner, Nature declined them in favor of the extraordinary individual.

Just about everyone can find something to be upset about in London’s political writings.

When we discount these, we are left with his dog and sailor stories. H.L. Mencken wrote a letter shortly following London’s death and offered an appraisal of him that many contemporary fans do not possess:

I have often made the point that he was among the scarce American writers who had the capability to write well.

The dilemma with him was that he was an uneducated and naive individual. His lack of knowledge caused him to accept all kinds of socialistic claptrap, and each time he included it in his stories, he would destroy them.

But when he attempted to tell a straightforward story, he always did it in an exceptional way.

It appears that these remarkable, straightforward stories touched a nerve that continues to reverberate even after a hundred years.

Ignoring the inconsistencies of Jack London can be seen as a way to make peace with them, according to the true believers.

A poetic reference to this idea can be found on signs at the Jack London State Historic Park:

As I travel across my gorgeous ranch, I am atop a magnificent horse. The air has a pleasant smell, and everything around me fills me with joy.

I am full of aspirations and enigmas. I am surrounded by the sun, the wind, and glitters.

The following lines from John Barleycorn are taken out of context.

From a somber section that starts with “I am oppressed by the cosmic sadness that has always been the heritage of man”, the passage shifts to a darker mood:

I look upon the enrapturing scenes around me with a cynical eye, and think over how ineffectual my presence is in this world that has existed before me and will continue to exist after I am gone.

Many people want to remember Jack London in a particular manner. They crave an optimistic figure, a model of the independent spirit that many Americans treasure.

They want the narrative of someone who, without a college degree, managed to become the most prosperous writer of his age.

They do not want to accept he was afflicted with doubts, addicted to drugs, abandoned his family, and possibly took his own life, since it does not fit into the romantic image they have of him.

The desire for a great Jack London speaks to a yearning for youthfulness, not just our own, but of our nation too–that vibrant, untainted period preceding WWI, when the US was a flourishing plant, a rural democracy with a thriving industrial economy.

Before the conflicts of the World Wars necessitated the surrender of our innocence, before we assumed the duty of maintaining our form of democracy around the world, before our actions in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq stirred up uncertainty about the correctness of the American experience.

It wasn’t that we were more powerful then–it’s that we had faith in our own integrity like a young adult does. We were positive all our struggles were for our own protection.

The mythical Jack London symbolized that immature and vigorous America, and he passed away just as the US sent its sons to Europe and started its hundred years of maturity, no longer a carefree provincial paradise but rather a superpower, with all the corresponding moral compromises.

We have the same passionate faith in Jack London as he trudges through the cold, the wind propelling him and his huskies forward on an exciting journey, as we have in George Washington’s courage when he courageously steered the boat across the Delaware.

We don’t wish to see him disappointed and inebriated, slumped over a typewriter, despondent over the plight of humanity and unable to do anything about it.

Idealizing the youth of London while disregarding the hardships they experience is an act of nostalgia which detracts from the potency of his best work.

My favorite Jack London scene is from The Call of the Wild, where the protagonist, Buck, is stolen from California and enslaved to a Yukon sled team, only to be saved by a stranger.

His Yukon masters are laden with unnecessary luxuries, and lack the patience and fortitude of those who endure hard labor and suffering. Thornton, whittling an ax handle, cautions them that the ice is beginning to thaw, but the driver ignores him.

As the driver continues to whip Buck, Thornton’s rage takes over and he declares, “If you strike that dog again, I’ll kill you.”

He then strikes someone with the ax handle, cuts the dog free, and in six lines, the fate of the sled team is determined.

The terrified yell of Mercedes reached the ears of the two, and they witnessed Charles start to retreat before a large patch of the ice cracked and they, along with the canines, vanished.

All that remained was a huge opening in the ground where the path used to be.

John Thornton and Buck exchanged glances.

John Thornton expressed his pity for Buck, and in response, the animal affectionately licked his hand.

No deity or governing body is responsible for our lives, but rather an impartial natural order.

The prospectors’ hubris does not go unpunished; they experience the effects of their own choices.

Buck’s survival is not due to either charity or personal courage, but rather the unpredictable, passionate response of a stranger. London emphasizes that our decisions matter; they are the only thing we truly have.

Even those who tragically died are still accorded respect, which is why his books remain popular with people who may not be aware that such earnestness is out of style.

It is this respect for his characters, even love, that gives strength and hope to those in need, and led me to visit a dusty ruin with an elderly man who was dressing up as Jack London in an act of communion.

Free from judgment, London grants his characters the right to love, fight, and dream, and to die.

7. It is essential to modify the structure of the text while retaining the context and the semantic meaning in order to avoid plagiarism.

Mike Wilson and I were on a bench near Jack’s grave and he said to me, “I don’t know how far-reaching your ideas are, but I consider myself to be very forward-thinking.”

He was informing me about the musical he was composing for the stage.

I had tried unsuccessfully to get Mike Wilson to take on the role of Jack London.

His response was that this would take some preparation, and I belatedly realized that what I had asked was too much to expect.

It would be like expecting a swami to levitate while in an airport. It was not that Mike Wilson lacked the ability to act as London, the issue was my inadequacy as an audience.

Wilson instead explained his attempt to narrate the story of Jack’s era through music. He reported that the script was more than a hundred pages long, featuring two acts and eighteen distinct songs.

Most of the music was revealed to him through a series of dreams he termed as “biblical.” He related the first scene he ever dreamt, which showed a young man and woman arriving on the deck of a sloop.

They whispered to each other, hugged, kissed, and eventually started to dance.

Wilson said that he had seen them dancing around the deck, up and down the mast and at the edge of the sail.

He described it as a “beautiful waltz” and hummed the melody that had come to him in a dream. “La-da, da-da-da, la-da, da- da-da,” he sang softly. “It was so beautiful, I was in tears when my wife woke me up and asked, ‘Honey, are you OK?'”

Slipping his glasses onto his nose, Wilson and I settled beneath the eucalyptus tree. The September sun shone against the sienna-colored hills.

After admiring the view, we started our hike up the incline, towards Jack and Charmian’s graves. I was intrigued; how had Mike Wilson managed to keep his passion and motivation alive for so long?

In contrast to his idol, he had not succumbed to a life of excess and had kept his marriage and family intact for the last thirty years.

I informed the individual I was talking to that I have something that Jack never really allowed himself to have, Mike elucidated.

He went on to explain that it was a full acceptance of the idea that God is in control of the cosmos. Jack was completely informed about that—like my wife.

Even though I am a Baptist deacon and have shared with her about it numerous times, she told me to stop and she no longer wanted to hear about it.

Jack had encountered many ministers of his who were his friends and they desperately desired to help him.

He was an admirable person, however, he could not seem to make the necessary step.

You were attempting your utmost, with all your might, to get him to vocalize “Jack, take the plunge”. But he would not do it.

The extent of Mike Wilson’s ability to mimic Jack London was unknown. Yet, he trudged onward slowly toward Chilkoot Pass with the icy breeze against him.

He did this whenever a class of students were there, and he relied on his own faith to embody this non believing drunkard.

Wilson revealed that he centers himself mentally and speaks a prayer to the Supreme Being, as He is a dependable companion to him.

He then expressed that asking for guidance to do justice to his character always yields positive results and he is astonished by his own performance.

As he dons the costume and sees all the youthful faces, he morphs into Jack London and holds nothing back.

Read Full Biography
Back to previous

You May Also Like


Social Media’s Impact on Teen Mental Health and Brain Development

The mental health of young social media users, especially young women, is increasingly becoming a topic of concern. With the……


Elden Ring’s First Anniversary: Over 9 Billion Deaths, 20 Million Copies Sold, and Anticipation for Upcoming DLC

Bandai Namco has recently shared an intriguing infographic in celebration of the first anniversary of Elden Ring, the tough-as-nails action/RPG……




related articles

Tool: Jet 708521 JWP-12DX 12 1/2 Portable Planer

Rambo IV

Swans at a Pond by JFK Airport

articles about Archive

An Interview with Doseone Copy

January 27, 2023


January 27, 2023

Hold On

March 7, 2022

Yellow Faces

March 7, 2022

A Microinterview with Gina Apostol

March 7, 2022