Jack London’s “The Sea Wolf”

I read this on my iPhone, mostly because I could.  More about that another time.

What happens?

Nordic Ubermensch sea captain fishes man-overboard effete academic wimp out of San Francisco bay and makes a man of him amidst scenes of appalling mano a mano savagery, brutality, violence, poor cooking, seal hunting and lengthy philosophical dialogues concerning the virtues of materialism vs idealism.  Believe me, it’s strangely great in a Gladiator sort of way.  Then a woman arrives on the ship and everything turns to mush and melodrama. Typical woman, eh?

Why bother reading The Sea Wolf in 2009?

Because it’s a tremendous yarn, in a sub-Conradian-meets-Zarathrustra sort of way, provided you turn a blind eye to pretty much everything political incorrect.  It’s also the gayest ‘manly’ novel in the history of the universe (“His body…was as fair as the fairest woman’s.  I could not take my eyes from him.  I stood motionless, the bandage unspooling from my hand.” And so on. And on.)

Isn’t it a bit sexist to complain about the introduction of a female character?

“The dear and lovely woman! And she was so much the woman, clinging and appealing, sunshine and dew to my manhood…” And so on. And on. And relentlessly on.

You’re not selling it to me.

Look, the first hundred pages are as good as anything in Conrad’s Typhoon.  And as a huge best seller in its time, it’s of historical interest – London was one of the first Americans to make a living out of fiction writing.

What are you reading next?

I just finished Iris Murdoch’s ‘Under The Net’.  Maybe I’ll do that on Friday.  I’d read the Bookers but everyone else has read them for me.


About Dad Who Writes (Gabriel)

Writing, reading, listening, parenting... On Twitter as @dadwhowrites. View all posts by Dad Who Writes (Gabriel)

5 responses to “Jack London’s “The Sea Wolf”

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