Complicity and Resistance in Jack London's Novels From Naturalism to Nature

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This study presents a rigorous engagement with Jack London's novels as representations of a particular moment in American history, situating this attention within the wider project of historical understanding. The first section offers a close reading of London's short story "South of the Slot" (1909), in order to construct a theoretical frame upon which to hang later chapters. It then provides a broad historical overview of the critical traditions that for so long ignored London, suggests reasons why. The remaining chapters are devoted to readings of London's most important novels: Call of the Wild, The Sea-Wolf, White Fang, Martin Eden, The Iron Heel, Burning Daylight, The Valley of the Moon, and The Star Rover. Throughout the study, it foregrounds the constant tension between dominant and counterhegemonic voices in London's fiction, arguing that it is this tension that makes his work such a rich seam for the cultural historian.


“. . . astute and concise readings of contemporary relevant cultural and historical issues affecting authorship. . . . Gair’s work is provocative and stimulating. V . . . Rather than engaging in the forced desperation of Jungian readings, Gair examines more fertile realms involving culture and history. His book is an indispensable body of work necessitating serious consideration by all London scholars.” – Western American Literature

“. . . Gair’s study is an important early step in developing a new audience for jack London. In undertaking this task, Gair has decided to present the reader with a number of different critical approaches to London’s novels. While all of these preoccupations chare a concern with the representation of social conditions and the rendering of language itself, some investigations are fully realized and other concerns leave further questions that, one can assume, Gair wishes his readers to pursue themselves. Gair makes the compelling argument that London’s works may be read as vital representations of turn-of-the-century America society. . . . More satisfactory . . . is Gair’s discussion of London’s class consciousness. . .Gair follows through with a vibrant reading of The Iron Heel (1908), his subject’s ‘most famous revolutionary’ work. . . . readings that engage the text directly are most satisfying, leading the reader to consider anew the achievement of the American novelist.” – American Studies (Cambridge University Press)

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