Essay on Jack London: America’s Greatest Author

Jack London (1876-1916) was a heavy influence to the naturalism movement that occurred in the United States from the 1890’s to the 1920’s. The naturalistic movement combined realism’s emphasis on depicting surface reality with a philosophy of determinism, which holds that humans have little ability to impose their will upon their own destinies (Matterson). In To Build a Fire, London quotes that, “It was a clear day, and yet there seemed an intangible pall over the face of things, a subtle gloom that mate the day dark, and that was due to the absence of the sun” (Kinsella 608), in order to emphasize how vulnerable man is to his environment. Jack London’s passion for nature and creating stories during the time of the naturalistic movement had an incredible affect and influence on the life and writings of one of America’s greatest authors.In 1897, Jack London left the University of California to travel to the Alaskan Yukon in search of gold (Kinsella 606). London’s firsthand experiences in the frozen tundra gave way to the creation of many of his best-selling novels and short stories, like The Call of the Wild (1903) and White Fang (1906) (Kinsella 606). The production of many of his famous short stories allowed him to gain recognition throughout the world. With the fame that he obtained, he was able to preach his message to people throughout the world (Hartzell). He wrote to convey that man cannot always overcome certain forces of nature, and that we have to succumb to some of those forces in order to survive (Existential). London impacted his time period with his socialist style of writing. He was a “work beast”, which meant he spent most of his youth working in order to support his poor family. He worked a wide spectr…


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Hartzell, David. “A Short Jack London Biography.” The World of Jack London. 4 Apr. 2008. Web. 9 May 2014. .

“Jack London, His Life and Books (Jack London State Historic Park).” Jack London, His Life and Books (Jack London State Historic Park). Web. 09 May 2014. .

Kinsella, Kate. Prentice Hall Literature. Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2005. Print.Matterson, Stephen. “1890s-1920s Naturalism.” PBS, Mar. 2007. Web. 15 May 2014. .

“The Existential Theme in Jack London’s “To Build A Fire”” The Existential Theme in Jack London’s “To Build A Fire” Web. 07 May 2014. .


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