AN ALLEGORY OF MAN The Call of the Wild is not only a story of a dogs adventuroustransformation; it is also a story in which a dogs life reflects truthsabout the human condition. In this sense, the novel bears someresemblance to the literary form known as the beast fable, whichgives human characteristics to an animal in order to illustrate orsatirize human society and human nature. The familiar story of therace between the tortoise and the hare, for example, illustrates thefolly of human arrogance and the value of human persistence. The other dogs are largely one dimensional fable types whocan be described with adjectives usually given to humans. Daveis old and wants to be left alone. Joe is testy and mean tempered.Buck, on the other hand, is a more complex humanized animalthan those found in fables. Even the first sentence states that if hecould read, he would know that dogs were being kidnapped forservice in the Yukon. Throughout, in human fashion, he observesand draws conclusions. At first he has moral scruples, and healways seems to understand human language. John Thornton saysto Buck, "God! you can all but speak!" (43). On an individual level, Buck seems to parallel Jack London him-self. Like Buck, London was born and grew up in northern Cali-fornia. After leaving home, he traveled deeper and deeper into theheart of darkness, as Buck does, observing the depths to whichhuman beings can sink in their treatment of each other and thesavagery of nature itself. As a young man, London began to experience the violence and hardship caused by nature and man inthe jobs he took on for survival: working on ranches, farms, andcanneries in California, where living and working conditions wereabominable. He got his glimpse of human hardship in the sweat-shops operating around San Francisco. His search for adventurebrought him into contact with the violence of nature during a seal-hunting expedition in Hawaii, where he was also shocked by whatman had done to man.
Jack London, an illegitimate child born in San Francisco in 1876and reared in poverty across the bay in Oakland, California, hadbecome the highest-paid, most widely read, and best-known writerin America by the time he was thirty-seven years old. In part, Lon-don achieved such tremendous popularity because he was thequintessential American adventurer, a westerner living in a countrythat culturally thrived on and was identified with exploration ofunknown territory. He lived an adventurous life and then usedevents from his own life as fodder for his profession as a writer.At the early age of fifteen, he bought a small boat and embarkedon an illegal and dangerous career as an "oyster pirate," raidingother mens lucrative oyster beds in San Francisco Bay. Then hejoined the other side of the law in an equally hazardous job, help-ing the California Fish Patrol capture commercial fishermen plyingtheir trade illegally in the bay. At seventeen, he signed on as anable-bodied seaman for a perilous seven-month seal-hunting ex-pedition in the Pacific Ocean, a journey that took him to Hawaii,Siberian Russia, and Japan, where he and the rest of the crew al-most lost their lives in a treacherous typhoon. In 1894, at eighteen,he hoboed across the country, on foot and in boxcars, as part ofa social protest by a group of unemployed men who called them-selves "Kellys Army." Passing through Erie County, Ohio, on thistrek, he was arrested for vagrancy and served time in a peniten-tiary. After his release, he made his way up the east coast and thenreturned to California across Canada by coal car and down fromVancouver by ship, earning his way by stoking coal. Two years later, in 1897, at the age of twenty-one, he set sail forJuneau, Alaska, to join the great rush for gold in the Yukon, ajourney that required climbs over jagged, icy peaks and downtreacherous rapids just to reach the gold fields. After enduring abitter subarctic winter there digging for instant wealth, in latespring, while suffering from scurvy, he rafted down the YukonRiver on his way back home to California. These adventures, especially his Yukon experience, narrated to the public in his writings, made him an international hero whose escapades were oftennewspaper headlines. The publication that first brought Jack London worldwide fameand continues to be his best-known work is a short novel whosemain character is a Yukon sled dog named Buck. That work, begunin December 1902 and published in 1903, was entitled/be Call ofthe Wild. London had earlier written a short story entitled "Batard," inwhich a demonic dog kills his equally demonic owner. Londonoriginally saw the story of the noble, sympathetic Buck as his apol-ogy for having written "Battard." He planned it as a 4,000-wordshort story for a magazine. But the project soon overtook him, ashe described it. In the two months it took him to write it, it grewto a 27,000-word novel. The result was an indisputable classic. The success of this novel, which appeared serially in the Satur-day Evening Post and was published as a book by the MacmillanCompany, has been nothing short of phenomenal. On July 1, 1903,the day of its publication, 10,00Ocopies were sold. Within the first forty-three years of its publication, 6 million copies were sold inthe United States alone. Furthermore, the book was even morewidely read and acclaimed in countries outside the United States.At the end of the twentieth century, it has been translated intosome ninety foreign languages. The novel has sold better and hasgone through more printings in France and Germany than in theUnited States, is one of the most popular American books read inChina and Japan, and is the most widely read American book inRussia. The total sales throughout the world, counted in the tensof millions, have made it an international best-seller of all time.
CLAUDIA DURST JOHNSON is Professor Emeritus at the University of Alabama，where she served as chair of the English Department for twelve years。 She is series editor of the “Literature in Context”series，for which she has authored numerous works。
Preface1. Literary Analysis：Adventure and Myth2. The Alaskan Panhandle and the Yukon Territory FROM： Fur Seals of Alaska. Hearings before the United States Committee on Ways and Means （1904） H. M. Robinson， The Great Fur Land；or， Sketches of Life in the Hudson’s Bay Territory （1879） Robert W. Service， “The Cremation of Sam McGee，” in The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses （1907）3. The Yukon Gold Rush FROM： M.H.E. Hayne and H. West Taylor， The Pioneers of the Klondyke （1897） “Stream of Gold from Klondyke，”San Francisco Call （July 18， 1897） “More Want to Go，” Oakland Times （July 30， 1897） Steamer Advertisement， San Francisco Call （July 18，1897） Advertisement for Equipment in A. E. Ironmonger Sola， Klondyke：Truth and Facts of the New E1 Dorado （1897） Advertisement for a Guide in A. E. Ironmonger Sola， Klondyke：Truth and Facts of the New E1 Dorado（1897） L. A. Coolidge， Klondike and the Yukon Country（1897） Joseph Ladue， Klondyke Facts. Being a Complete Guide to the Gold Regions of the Great Canadian Northwest Territories and Alaska （1897） William B. Haskell， Two Years in the Klondike and Alaskan Gold-Fields （1898） A. C. Harris， Alaska and the Klondike Gold Fields（1897） Josiah Edward Spurt， Through the Yukon Gold Diggings （1900） A. E. Ironmonger Sola， Klondyke：Truth and Facts of the New E1 Dorado （1897） L. A. Coolidge， Klondike and the Yukon Country（1897） Josiah Edward Spurt， Through the Yukon Gold Diggings （1900） Joseph Ladue， Klondyke Facts （1897） A. E. Ironmonger Sola， Klondyke：Truth and Facts of the New EI Dorado （1897） Joseph Ladue， Klondyke Facts （1897） W. D. Lighthall，“The Too-Much-Gold River，” in Joseph Ladue， Klondyke Facts （1897） Robert W. Service，“The Spell of the Yukon”and “The Heart of the Sourdough，”in The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses （1907） Hugh Wells， “There Is a Land，”and Anonymous， “This Is the Grave，”Carved into Trees on the Way to the Yukon （1897） 4. The Sled Dog FROM： Robert Leighton， Dogs and All About Them （1910） Edward Jesse， Anecdotes of Dogs （1878） Egerton Young， My Dogs in the Northland （1902） Edward Jesse， Anecdotes of Dogs （1878） Egerton Young， My Dogs in the Northland （1902） Robert Leighton， Dogs and All About Them （1910） H. M. Robinson， The Great Fur Land；or， Sketches of Life in the Hudson’s Bay Territory （1879） Robert Leighton， The New Book of the Dog （1907） Egerton Young， My Dogs in the Northland （1902） Egerton Young， My Dogs in the Northland （1902） William B. Haskell， Two Years in the Klondike and Alaskan Gold-Fields （1898） “Nome Dogs Battle Blizzard，”San Francisco Chronicle （Monday， February 2， 1925）5. Humans’ Relationship with Animals：The Issue of Cruelty FROM： The First Book of Moses Called Genesis in the King James Version of the Bible H. M. Robinson， The Great Fur Land；or， Sketches of Life in the Hudson’s Bay Territory （1879） Arthur Treadwell Walden， A Dog-Puncher on the Yukon （1928） William B. Haskell， Two Years in the Klondike and Alaskan Gold-Fields （1898） Egerton Young， My Dogs in the Northland （1902） Anna Sewell， Black Beauty （1894） "Our Mission，" PETA Web Site6. The Wolf：Symbol， Myth， and Issue FROM： "Wolves，" in The Colonial Laws of Massachusetts（1887） H. Perry Robinson， Of Distinguished Animals （1911） Nathaniel Reed， “Letter to Edward A. Garmatz， Chairman， Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries， House of Representatives， 1972，”in Predatory Mammals and Endangered Species. Hearings before the Subcommittee on Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation （1972） Araby Colton，“Letter to Wolf Defenders，” in Predatory Mammals and Endangered Species （1972） “Statement of Hon. Ron Marlenee， U.S. Representative from Montana，”in Endangered Species Act Reauthorization. Hearing before the Subcommittee on Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment （1987） “Testimony of Frank Dunkle， Director of Fish and Wildlife Service，” in Endangered Species Act Reauthorization （1987）Index
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