A Brief Autobiography of Jack London: What Life Means to Me

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Through his travels and experiences with various individuals and cultures, London came to consider himself a socialist, someone who believes in the public ownership of the means of production and distribution of wealth. In comparison, a capitalist believes in an economic system based on private ownership of business and the ability for businesses to compete; America's economic system is capitalistic. Socialists view capitalism as the root of poverty and believe that equal distribution of wealth would put an end to the divisions of social class.

London unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Oakland, California, on the Socialist Party ticket several times.

Many writers cannot recall a time when they did not write. For them, writing is something they felt they were born to do.

This was not the case with London. He saw writing as a means to make money.

Jack London's "What life means to me."

He studied other writers and practiced mimicking their style as he began to submit jokes, poems, and short stories for publications. Most of these early attempts failed. At on the morning of Wednesday, April 18, , the quiet slumber of San Francisco's hundreds of thousands of residents was interrupted by a rumble such as they had never heard before. Although the powerful earthquake was over in one minute, the fires it caused raged for three days, destroying much of the West Coast's most densely populated and economically developed city.

That earthquake was not the most powerful ever experienced in the state or country, but it was the closest to a highly populated metropolitan area. City streets rolled up and down as if they were waves on the ocean. Tall buildings collapsed, killing and trapping not only pedestrians but occupants as well.

In all, the great quake destroyed 28, buildings over city blocks. More than , residents were left homeless. Estimates of those killed reach 3, According to eyewitness Adolphus Busch , whose words are recorded on Eyewitnessto-History. The helpless man watched it in silence till the fire began burning his feet. Then he screamed and begged to be killed. The policeman took his name and address and shot him through the head. In London's report of the tragedy, the first night after the earthquake found San Francisco not riotous, but absolutely calm and still.

Wrote London, "There was no hysteria [panic], no disorder. The same could not be reported about what happened as the fires continued to ravage the city. Evacuation efforts via ferries were made, and complete chaos took over. Men and women fought for seats on the escaping ferry boats; children had their clothing torn from their backs as people tried to pull them to the ground in order to get on the boat in front of them. Finally, the flames died out on Friday.

Jack London

Fire-fighters had given all they had—mostly in vain—to put out the fire. In the end, the flames had to run their course and burn themselves out. London spent the winter of in the Yukon, at the time part of the Northwest Territories in the northwest region of Canada a year later, it became its own territory. There, he joined thousands of others in the search for gold.

Onboard both ships were miners, carrying the gold they had found in the Yukon territory.

jack london

Suddenly, America was immersed in the gold rush craze, and London was among the hopeful gold prospectors seeking the gold deposits found naturally in the earth and in rivers and streams. Although not successful as a gold prospector, London did manage to write about his adventures. Those exploits were first published in the magazine Overland Monthly in From that point on, America could not get enough of London's stories. He met the demand: Rarely a day passed that he did not write something.

Between and , he wrote more than fifty novels and hundreds of short stories and articles. His routine was to write no fewer than one thousand words a day, early in the morning. The first decade of the twentieth century was busy for London. In , he married his friend, Bess Maddern. Based on deep friendship rather than love, the union was one of many of its kind during that era, when men of importance chose women of good breeding for their wives.


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London and Maddern had two daughters, but the marriage did not last. In , London and his wife divorced, and he married his secretary, Charmian Kittredge, in Throughout their lives, the two would call each other "mate," and their marriage lasted until London's death at the age of forty. The couple's only child, Joy, died just thirty-eight hours after birth. London had written his first novel, The Son of the Wolf, in In , London wrote what would become one of his most famous novels, an adventure tale titled The Call of the Wild.

In between writing and researching his novels, London continued to write magazine features, both fiction and nonfiction. He maintained a heavy correspondence with readers, who wrote about ten thousand letters to him each year. London's writing appealed to readers across the globe; he was the highest paid writer of his time. His critics, however, called him a hack, someone who churns out writing that is popular with the public but has little literary merit.

What life means to me pdf

They accused him of sensationalism writing to gain attention because he often used his power as a popular author to discuss topics he believed were important, such as socialism and women's suffrage the right to vote. The accusation of being a sensationalist, modern critics recognize, may stem more from London's choice of words—he preferred strong words over precise words—than his choice of topics.

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Open space was important to London. As an adventurer, he had developed a strong connection to both land and sea. By , he had made six more land purchases and was the proud owner of Beauty Ranch, an estate comprising 1, acres 5.

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The ranch was actually an experimental farm, where London promoted the concept of scientific breeding for the best and strongest features of animals and even imported European purebreds to improve the quality of his stock. He was a pioneer in soil conservation, and used tilling overturning many layers of soil and terracing shaping a slope into steps to prevent soil erosion to improve the quality of soil on the hillsides. In addition to growing grapes, London planted vegetables, fruit trees, grass for hay, and even cacti.

In , London and his wife began building their dream home. The sprawling Wolf House was built of redwood trees, the roof made of imported Spanish tiles. On August 22, final cleanup began, and the couple made plans for moving their custom-built furniture into the house. At am, London got word that his house was on fire. Nothing could be done to save the building, and the writer was crushed as he watched his dreams go up in smoke.

Worse yet, he felt that someone had deliberately set fire to the Wolf House. Investigations into the tragedy showed that the fire probably started because someone had left oil-soaked rags at the scene. The mystery was never solved, and the house was never rebuilt. The Londons were determined to sail around the world in a yacht designed by Jack. The plan was to take seven years for the voyage, but the reality of the trip was far different.

A severe case of sun poisoning forced the couple and their small crew to sail for land in Australia, where doctors told London he could not spend any more time in the sun.

The voyage, which began in , lasted just a little over two years, and the Londons returned home, heartbroken. After two great disappointments the fire and interrupted voyage , London was a depressed man. He traveled to New York as well as to San Francisco and Los Angeles on business, and he spent much of his writing time on his boat, the Roamer. His wife coaxed him into returning to Hawaii in and again in Each time, he spent months there, writing and relaxing. London could never relax for long, however, when he thought about life at Beauty Ranch and all that he wanted to get done there.

Because he was forever trying to expand his property and ranch, London was constantly in debt and under pressure to write. London's doctors were concerned about his health and urged him to cut back on the use of alcohol and improve his diet.

Jack London's What Life Means to Me

London refused and remained focused on writing so that he could fund his interests. He pushed himself to the limit, and on November 22, , London died of uremia toxins in the bloodstream. He was just forty years old. For years, he had suffered from a painful kidney disorder, which could have only been made worse by his drinking alcohol.