I think I must have first read The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, in high school, and it’s been ages since then, so I put it on my Classics Club list and reread it. Of course, with more life experience since my first time reading it, I found it to be much more profound and powerful than I remembered. The writing is beautiful, and this story of survival is very moving.
From the publisher:
The Call of the Wild is a novel by Jack London published in 1903. The story is set in the Yukon during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush—a period when strong sled dogs were in high demand. The novel’s central character is a dog named Buck, a domesticated dog living at a ranch in the Santa Clara valley of California as the story opens. Stolen from his home and sold into the brutal existence of an Alaskan sled dog, he reverts to atavistic traits. Buck is forced to adjust to, and survive, cruel treatments and fight to dominate other dogs in a harsh climate. Eventually he sheds the veneer of civilization, relying on primordial instincts and lessons he learns, to emerge as a leader in the wild.
A favorite quote (that shows the beauty of Jack London’s writing):
There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.
This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad in a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was alive and that fled swiftly before him through the moonlight.
As I reread it, the storyline came back to me. It’s such a powerful story of survival, betrayal, loyalty, trust, the brutality of civilization and the savage beauty of nature. I remembered the cruelty and the kindness, so it had made a strong impression on me. But as I said before, with a lifetime between first reading it and now, I understand the depth of the story much better at this age. So, if you read it in high school and haven’t revisited it since then…it’s a beautifully written book that will touch your heart and leave you thinking.
I chose to read this book as one of my 50-books-in-5-years for The Classics Club.
I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “WANDERLUST: Reading the States,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each of the 50 United States. This book took place in Alaska.
Somehow, I have never read this but now I will! I loved Mrs. Mike as a young reader and when I reread it a couple of years ago, I loved it still. However, my older self viewed it through a completely different lens. Life in those cold, wild places was so different from my experience!
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Marlo, I read Mrs. Mike about 10 years ago and liked it very much. I don’t know why I didn’t find it in my younger years! It’s so interesting how our older selves see different things as we reread beloved books from long ago. And appreciate things more!
I have never thought about picking up this book but your review makes me think I need to re-asses my decision!
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Iliana, it was not easy to read about the cruelty that Buck suffered, but it was quite a story.