Jack London: Civilized Savage?



Jack London perhaps epitomizes the restlessness of the American spirit.

He remained young at heart, and never seemed content. And America, as a nation, is young. Despite its power and global dominance, it’s an infant.

America’s also paradoxical – and so is London. America contains some of the finest examples of civilization, but also of wilderness and savagery.

London is similar, for despite not having a formal education, he was an incredibly intelligent, prolific, perceptive writer. And yet he never seemed content in sedentary conditions, and always yearned for the road, for freedom.

The sheer vastness of North America, and the vacant spaces between towns and cities, causes two impulses: to settle down and survive, or to forever be on the road and live. Jack London was lured by the latter. Such is well captured in his most famous work, Call of the Wild (1903), in which an Alaskan dog leaves its home to join a wolf pack.

This “calling” back to the wild is evident in much of his fiction, underlining the extent to which London believed that our “wild” or “savage” side never goes away, but that we just get good at hiding it. The Sea-Wolf (1904) tells the tale of a man who converts from civility to a simpler way of living, and so carries a similar idea.8

Jack London, like Hemingway and Twain, is woven deeply into the American psyche. And America is a country that was literally written into existence. Such is perhaps why America, out of all Western nations, seems to hold its writers in such high regard. And there are few set so high as the legend that is London.

For this reason, here at iClassics Collection, we decided to celebrate the centennial of Jack London’s death.


By creating an immersive, interactive app that allows you to experience London’s work as you never have before.

The power of this master’s imagination is transformed into beautiful illustrations, interactive elements, animations, and original music scores.

Join us in celebrating 100 years of a literary great: watch art, literature and technology clasp hands and wander into the woods of a wilderness into which London so often frequented. 

Find out more by clicking here



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