Call of the Wild by Jack London

The Call of the Wild (Dover Thrift Editions)Summary: Classic children’s books about a dog that is kidnapped to work the Klondike Gold Rush.

I remember reading Call of the Wild as a child.  I am sure it has been over 25 years since I last read it.  But it still seemed quite fresh in my mind.

Jack London wrote clear prose.  He feels like a western writer (like Zane Gray or Louis L’Amour).  In fact I would not be surprised if I read this after reading some Louis L’Amour books. I had several uncles that were long haul truck drivers.  And they spent a lot of time reading on their off time.  The westerns were passed around frequently and I think that I probably read most of L’Amour’s books by the time I was 13.  I am not sure if the prose feels similar because they were writing at a similar time, or because there is a similar western individualism that is flowing through the authors.

The Call of the Wild is clearly a children’s book in orientation.  It is told in third person, primarily from Buck’s perspective.  It is not Buck (the dog) narrating but a unknown narrator that is telling Buck’s story.

Buck was a hunting dog in California.  He belonged to a rich family and one of their gardeners stole him to make some extra money.  Buck was sent up to the Klondike where a gold rush was on.

The theme of the story is mostly about the line between domestication and love as an animal for his master and the wild desires of an animal.  As with many older children’s book there is a different sensibility now compared to when it was written.  Buck is involved in dog fights (although it is not a book about dog fighting like Jack London’s White Fang).  People die, animals are mistreated, racial and gender slurs are used.

I was interested because some of the individualism and romanticism of Call of the Wild feels like Jack London was a proto-Ayn Rand.  But when I looked it up, Jack London was actually an outspoken socialist.  So I guess it really is true that it is hard to read ideology from fictional texts.

Call of the Wild Purchase Links: Free Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook (only $3.95 if you buy the free Kindle version first), Paperback ($2) – There are many other editions but at the time of posting these are the cheapest.

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