As a animal lover and dog owner, at first I wasn't sure if I could handle this book...and this after reading The Yearling! The story is told from the point of view of Buck, a young Saint Bernard/Scotch Shepherd mix (google them, they are gorgeous dogs) who is dognapped from his northern California home and sold as a sled dog up north at the height of the Klondike gold rush of the late 1800s.
This is a very short novella, the Puffin edition pictured above is only 150 pages long, which was good for me because I didn't find the writing style that engaging although it was very descriptive and evocative of place. Buck encounters hardship along the way but he also has joyful moments. It is questionable, however, if the ending is a happy one. It depends upon the perspective of the reader.
I did think that much of the canine behavior depicted was familiar based on dogs I have known, but I also think London anthropomorphized a little too much now and again. Dogs are smart, don't get me wrong. And in many ways, they are smarter than humans. But I don't think they reason in the same way that humans do and sometimes London attributed this kind of thinking and action to Buck.
I chose Jack London's The Call of the Wild for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2017 category of a "Classic About an Animal or With an Animal in the Title". This is also another two for the price of one since it is also included on the Modern Library’s 100 best English-language novels of the twentieth century, of which I now have only 28 left to read.
Here are two of my fierce huskies!
I love when one book fulfills two things! It's been awhile since I read this one; I thought it was okay, but I didn't love it. But then I'm not a huge animal story person. :)ReplyDelete
Thanks for the comment Lark! I didn't love this novella either, but it was on my list so I am glad to be able to tick it off now.Delete
I am also not really into animal stories. I think people are generally more interesting to read about.
Hi Ruthiella, Call of the Wild is a book I have on my to do list. Good point about how Buck is smart but his reasoning is different from humans and so what he's feeling might not ring true if London bases his personality too close on human reasoning. Great review and I really enjoy your back to the classics chalkenge.ReplyDelete
Hi Kathy. Thank you for your comment! I hope you enjoy this book when you get to it. It is so short, however, so it will be an easy one.Delete
I have heard good things about London's Martin Eden, so I hope to try that one next, but I think I will probably skip White Fang since I didn't love The Call of the Wild.
I like Call of the Wild--I read it as a kid and again as an adult, and Buck just struck a nerve with me. Another thing that has fueled my liking over the years is the fabulous Northern Exposure episode (Three Amigos) during which Chris reads CotW as a voice over during key parts of the episode. It was brilliant and fun--one of my favorite episodes ever.ReplyDelete
I've also visited the remains of Wolf House at the Jack London State Park in Northern California. It's very cool (I love ruins), and I'm trying to get there again as it's been about 25 years since I last was there.
Thanks for the comment Jane! I really liked Northern Exposure, but I don't recall that episode. I will have to see if I can find it on Youtube.Delete
It's a bit odd to me that this is sometimes listed as a children's book. I read it as a child and didn't like it...it wasn't a very happy ending. I appreciated it more as an adult, comprehending the "call of the wild" theme better. I agree with you London probably anthropomorphized too much, but at the same time...I thinking writing from an animal's perspective is an unusual and doubtless challenging endeavor. I found it fascinating in that regard.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the comment Joseph! I wouldn't give this book to a child to read personally, but I guess it depends on the kid. For a book from the perspective of an animal (of which I have read VERY little I admit) I preferred Watership Down. That was like LOTR but with rabbits.Delete
I enjoyed this one much more than I expected, I'd never read anything by London and only read it because it was on that Modern Library Top 100 list. Also I love the photo of your little huskies!ReplyDelete
Thanks for the comment Karen! This was also the only London I have read so far. I would be interested in trying his Martin Eden someday since Thomas at Hogglestock liked it a lot.Delete