(1876-1916) is an American writer.
Grow in poverty. His father, W. H. Cheney, left his wife before the birth of his son, who was adopted by a ruined farmer John London, the second husband of the future writer’s mother. London in his youth changed many professions:
he worked at a cannery, at a power plant, at a jute factory, was close to the “oyster pirates” of the San Francisco Bay, in 1893, sailed by a sailor on a schooner. In 1894, J. London took part in the campaign of the army of the unemployed to Washington; Wandered about the United States and Canada, he was imprisoned for vagrancy, arrested for his socialist activities.
In 1897-1898, during the “gold rush”, he made a trip to Alaska. In 1902, during the Boer War, London, as a military correspondent, visited England. In the book of essays “The People of the Abyss” (1903) depicted the life of the poor in the slums of the English capital. Great interest was shown in the works of Leo Tolstoy, IS Turgenev, FM Dostoyevsky.
In 1907-1909 he was on a round-the-world trip, described in the book Journey to Snark (1911), in 1914 he was a correspondent for an American newspaper in Mexico, where he collected material for a book about the Mexican liberation movement.
The literary activity of London began at the age of 17, when in 1893 the newspaper Golos San Francisco published his first essay “Typhoon off the coast of Japan.” Then came the first
“The North is the North,” wrote London, “and human hearts are subject to strange laws, which people who have not traveled to distant lands will never understand.” Often the “travelers” themselves did not understand them. For heroes who are given the sympathy of London, the main thing in the north was not gold, not enrichment: one was forever captivated by the Klondike romance – “the world beyond the horizon,” others valued most of all the purity of human relations here acquired. However, people were driving a gold rush to the North, and she could not help inflaming low instincts. High romance and dreams of unhealthy “golden” rush intertwined, leaving a bizarre imprint on the minds of the inhabitants of the northern country.
The unselfishness of thoughts, which are marked by many heroes of the northern cycle, is not in good agreement with the passion of competition that rests with them and dreams of wealth. London did its utmost to avoid this contradiction, and yet it did not spoil more than one of his stories. He still had to get rid of the worship of success and the power given by wealth. In the best northern novels, London was able to show that selfish motives are irreconcilable with the norms of humanity and good. They were a true saga about the North, and stories about the Indians became one of the legends without which it was incomplete. Just in Indian stories, London’s poetic realism brought the most mature artistic fruits. The author drew Indians with deep sympathy – magnanimous, industrious, close to nature: “The Courage of a Woman” (1900), “The Legend of Kish” (1904).
In the Indian novellas there are “century of steel” and “stone age”, and the outcome of this clash is tragic. But London also portrayed people who are able to endure suffering without renouncing national pride, and those who are ready to fight for their dignity, in battle with the enslavers, to uphold the inalienable right of man to live freely.
The narrative art of London has reached perfection in the animalistic story “The Voice of Blood” (1903). As in the “White Fang” (1906), the characters of animals are masterfully outlined here. The story “Before Adam” (1906), which reproduces episodes from the life of primitive people, is close to them. The style of northern stories and stories with their dramatic collisions is very tense, the language is full of vernacular and accurate winged turns.
The novel “The Iron Heel” (1912) thematically echoes the socialist journalism of London (articles “Revolution”, “How I Became a Socialist”, “The Struggle of Classes” and others).
To the theme of the class struggle, London appealed and in recent years of creativity in the novel “The Lunar Valley” (1913). It depicts the life of American workers, but the fear of the heroes of the novel before the capitalist city with its fierce class struggle is replaced by their search for a serene corner of nature.
One of the best realistic works of London is “Martin Eden” (1909). Contemporaries writer was perceived as a typical for American literature “history of a stunning career.” They saw nothing in the novel except the plot: at the cost of a titanic effort, a simple sailor becomes a world-famous writer just to get frustrated in literature and in wealth, to commit suicide. In the drafts the novel was long wearing the ironic title “Success”. However, London’s plan was broader. And to realize it, it was necessary not so much a satirical pen as the experience of the lyrical narrative accumulated in the northern tales, the psychological mastery perfected in The Sea Wolf, and the knowledge of the secrets of creativity acquired during the years of writing,
Nowhere else has the writer managed to combine such an organically combined event and philosophical plan. To link the history of one person with such strong threads not only with the social and literary context of his epoch, but with one of those eternal themes that in one way or another appear in all the best London works. In “Martin Eden” it was the artist’s theme and his agonizing struggle with stubborn material, with the tastes of contemporaries, with the need to sell his art, with his own human weaknesses. And the theme was so close to London, so hard for them that the novel acquired in its work the meaning of confession.
In the cycle of stories and novels of London about the southern seas there is an external drama of situations, admiring adventures; strong characters of the natives are revealed in a clash with the formidable forces of southern nature or with white colonizers-adventurers: “Mapuy’s House”, “Whale’s Mouth”, “Mowgli” from the collection “Stories of the Southern Seas” (1911).
In the “Heart of Three” (1920) London turned to a new, but very promising genre of American literature – a film story.
In the 1920s, American critics hurried to declare London a hopelessly outdated writer. She rejected it completely, and it was required to carefully review his books and in the very unequal legacy of London to take away the true values.
In the fact that they are not perishable, you are convinced by rereading London today. Much remained intact only for his biographers and for historians of American society of the beginning of this century. But to the way he created, to the paths planned for London, literature returned so often and drew from his experience so generously that some of his works can be called modern without any strains today.