Rough Draft I think that every book falls into one of a few different catagories. It either sucks, is entertaining, or changes your perspective. “Martin Eden” ranks in the highest of all posible catagories for changing my perspective. I tried to read Jack London on a number of occasions and just couldn’t get into him. His stories would rate as entertaining at best. I don’t know why I picked up Martin Eden, but will forever be grateful to the forgotten soul who recommended it. Martin Eden is different because of what is barely under the surface.
In my opinion, it’s less a story than a philosophy. After I read it for the first time, I was struck by the parallel to Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave. ” In it, Plato warns of the price of enlightenment. Once you have seen the light, you can never go back to seeing things the was you did before. You will isolate yourself from everyone. Plato seems to say that ignorance is bliss, and London seems to agree. In the novel, Martin is stricken with the desire to ascend in class stature after meeting a high-class, late 19th Century San Fransisco family.
He is enamored with the ease with which they debate social politics and wants to attain what he first sees as their level of intelligence. His vehicle for attaining their acceptance is to become a writer. To enrich his meager knowledge of these subjects he becomes an arduous reader of everything that he can get his hands on. In the process, he comes to realize that he has gained a true understanding of liturature and social philosophy, whereas everyone else merely talks with a false air of understanding. At one point he realizes that, in his quest to become an intellectual equal, he has surpassed them.
It is after his meteoric climb in intellect that he realizes that he is alone. He also realizes that the people he so eagerly sought to emmulate did not shun him because of his lack of intellect (for their own intellect was merely a thin veneer), but because of his lack of money. In his separate but related quest to become a successful writer, he is frustrated by every publisher’s inability to “get” his ideas. His inability to publish, despite his hard work, leads his love interest, high-born and condescending, to abandon him.
She has no faith in his ability to achieve fame as a writer and he has no disire to settle down into a 9 to 5 job to placate her socialite parents. After some time apart, he does succeed in getting published, and not unlike the breaking of a dam, fame and fortume follow soon after. Upon learning of his fame, she comes running back, ready to make him the centerpiece for conversation at her family’s socialite dinner parties. He rejects her and tries to return to the companionship of his earlier days as a sailor. Like in Plato’s story, he finds that he cannot rekindle the bond that he once had with old friends, and is alone.
While the story is an interesting case study into the nature of intellect and society, it is also a looking glass into the social scene in a major city during the turn of the century. The reader learns that the beat poets were around long before Kerouac and Ginsburg. This story is full of information — social, political, historical, and intellectual. Read it. ”The Sea-Wolf” by Jack London is about a young man who is forced to work on a sealing schooner after he is rescued from a ferry accident. The title comes from the captain of the schooner whose name is Wolf Larson.
Larson is a cruel and brutal man who, while on his ship, lives by his own rules. His morals are very shallow and he places little, if any, value on others’ lives. The story continues in portraying the life of Humphrey, the young man, and how he copes with the brutality of sea life and how he adapts to their way of life. Later on in the story a new angle comes in when the sealing schooner picks up a lost boat and brings abourd a female. The men don’t often encounter females seeing that their work is hard and they are out on their hunting trips most of the year.
So this brought a whole new perspective and the men didn’t know how to act. Larson, on the other hand, didn’t change much. Humphrey got to know the woman and became attracted to her for she was much like him interest wise. So one night, when everyone was asleep, Humphrey and the woman, Maud Brewster, secretly got into one of the hunting boats and escaped the ship in the fog. After they were on the tiny boat for a long time they began to doubt themselves and their survival. But then they spotted an island and landed there. They made their own shelter and killed seals, like the hunters did, for food.
Then one morning they awoke to find the dreaded Ghost docked at their beach. They were terrified, but soon learned that the ship’s crew had abandoned ship and only Larson was left. Larson had been inflicted with a horrible disease and he went blind and his body slowly began to deteriorate. After he died Humphrey and Maud repaired the Ghost and sailed back to the mainland. I personally liked this story very much because it was interesting and it kept my attention. It made me want to keep reading the story to find out what obstacle that Humphrey had to overcome next. It had a great plot and I’d recommend it to anybody.