The only reason Jack London isn't considered a candidate for the GOAT American fiction writer is because he was a working class socialist.

The only reason Jack London isn't considered a candidate for the GOAT American fiction writer is because he was a working class socialist. Change my mind.

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  1. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    I can't abide socialists, drunks, or racists, yet I've always appreciated London. I think his work suffers due to the overtly masculine tone (we live in an age of woman smut-readers and man non-readers) and the accessibility of his work and ideas. I don't know that many can identify with London in our eschatorial day. The literary outlets tend to prefer work with more pomp, or else jaded into a pomp-less oblivion, and London is more of an old-school man in the way of true American grit. True American grit is something which is only larped at for X followers nowadays.

    • 2 months ago
      Anonymous

      Very good point. He was one of a now-dead breed, the "all-American man." Now, the only people you find in that mold are very image-conscious larpers who probably have a large Instagram following.
      It's sad, because I feel he represents many of the noblest and most admirable aspects of the American national identity; fearlessness, pioneering, leaping into the unknown, love of (but also respect for the dangers of) the natural world, a deeply held sense of fair play, tenacity, etc.

      • 2 months ago
        Anonymous

        Yes, I also think that of him.

  2. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    There is also the whole issue of all those writers who were better than him.

    • 2 months ago
      Anonymous

      He is better than Steinbeck and Fitzgerald. That alone should make him mandatory reading. He's probably on par with, or, at worst, slightly inferior to Hemingway. Melville and Faulkner are the only two who significantly edge him out imo. But, Faulkner is more of a Southern writer than an American writer, so really it's just Melville.

      • 2 months ago
        Anonymous

        Go ahead and make your case, so far all you have offered is "because I think so."

        • 2 months ago
          Anonymous

          It's hard to describe why someone's writing is good, but I'll give it a shot. His prose is, first of all, extremely beautiful and many times reads more like poetry. He describes with perfect, vivid accuracy the inherent contradictory magnetism of nature and adventure: On the one, it's dangerous and could very realistically get you killed. On the other hand, it may be the only time in your life you actually feel alive, feel some semblance of what it means to be a living, breathing organism surviving in this harsh world. There is also an unvarnished, unwavering sincerity in his work. At no point do you feel that he's deluding you or himself about who he is or what he stands for. This is a very, very, very rare trait in any sort of artist, and especially a writer. His respect and love for his fellow Man, but also his unflinching and fearless glimpses into the uglier side of human behavior (and society more broadly) is unparallelled. I feel a deep love and kinship for humanity, nature, and all of existence when I read him.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            Jesus Christ this is terrible. Your reason for London being a better writer than Steinbeck or Fitzgerald is because he's sincere and has, you shit me not, poetic prose? That's it? The other writers do not have those things? What a waste of a thread, a waste of a discussion, and a waste of my time replying to it, but you deserve to know how awful this all is. Please stay away from this board for another 10 years

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            >The other writers do not have those things?
            That is correct, yes. Their books both reek of insincerity and you would know this if you yourself were an honest, upright person, but you're not.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            It's an easy thing to hind behind criticisms of sincerity, as it omits having to do any actual work. You talk of poetic prose? What's poetic about it? Is there meter? Rhyme? Alliteration? Where does London employ use of poetic tools that say, Fitzgerald, does not? You know Fitzy wrote with a copy of Keats on his desk at all times, and was known to quote nightingale in its entirety? You know Steinbeck bases sections of the grapes of wrath off of the Odyssey, the most influential poem of western civilization? You know they both take their titles from poetry? Your criticisms are, as the other anon said, upheld by nothing but your own feelings. I sincerely hope you stop posting here.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            At least he had something to say. You've demanded from him everything, yet you've given nothing. You knew from the start you were wasting all of our time by posting. You knew from the start. The (You)s always do.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            >yet you've given nothing
            I literally pointed out examples of how the other two writers are linked to poetry, that's more than can be said of the op. I had something to say, too. This thread is about changing minds, I've pitched the reasons why it ought to be changed, and now he's being a little snot about it. London is fine. His stories are okay for young men, but they're one dimensional. Maybe if he had written more, covering more, then we could have a conversation about his status, but as it stands, he's a just-fine author from years past that wasn't kitschy enough to get slapped on all the national parks like John Muir or Robert Frost were. Maybe he's a little better than Robert Service and a little worse than Robert Stevenson.

            [...]
            I'm not going to write a dissertation with a bibliography on why my favorite writer is my favorite writer. If you want that level of explanation, fricking pay me.

            You're just going to make a claim, refuse to defend it with anything tangible, and pitch a hissy fit when someone challenges it. The other anon nailed it again. You're clearly 18

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            >You're just going to make a claim, refuse to defend it with anything tangible, and pitch a hissy fit when someone challenges it.
            My claim is an aesthetic judgement and if you think you can mechanically break down what exactly makes a work of art great you're a fricking drooling moron who should be shot and thrown in a ditch.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            I think for the 3rd and final time, I have to say this. The other anon is right. You're just saying, "because I think so."

            Fine. I think you're wrong. Is that what you wanted out of this?

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            What exactly, in your mind, is required to justify calling someone a good writer? I said he has good prose, that his work includes a pervasive element of sincerity, and that he accurately describes nature and the impressionist human relationship with it. How do you want me to "prove" these claims? The only possible answer is, again, that you want me to quote specific passages from specific works and use them as evidence. I'm not going to fricking do that because it's a waste of time and won't convince anyone.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            >I said he has good prose
            No, you said he had poetic prose. You also said a whole bunch of weird shit about how it must be a risk to show such raw human emotions on the page, and how it might... Get him killed? He wrote about a super wolf you fricking bozo, it's not exactly risque stuff. Let me ask you this, and you can answer it with all that sincerity you value in yourself: what did you want out of this thread?

            >Robert Frost
            >kitsch
            Pseud detected! Pseud alarms going off like crazy! Someone arrest this pseud! He shouldn't be allowed to run free like this!
            >worse than Stevenson
            Just stop talking already.

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          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            >No, you said he had poetic prose
            I said he had "extremely beautiful" prose that sometimes reads as poetry.
            >You also said a whole bunch of weird shit about how it must be a risk to show such raw human emotions on the page
            No, I didn't.
            >and how it might... Get him killed?
            I was talking about nature and the human urge to explore. For example, to go to the Alaskan tundra or aboard a fishing vessel. You know, the things London wrote about. My POINT, if you had bothered to read it, was that the core characteristic that makes London a great writer is that he portrayed nature and exploration as both savage, dangerous, and potentially lethal AND beautiful, awe-inspiring, and existentially invigorating. It's this juxtaposition that is at the heart of most of his work and that I don't personally believe I've seen any other writer execute more skillfully or truthfully.
            >He wrote about a super wolf you fricking bozo, it's not exactly risque stuff.
            Filtered, midwit, cope, seethe, etc.
            >what did you want out of this thread?
            I wanted to discuss my favorite writer and why he is consistently underrated and looked down upon by academics, such as yourself. Particularly because he was shamelessly working class and this disturbs those with middle class, wannabe-bourgeois sensibilities; again, such as yourself.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            Thanks for calling me an academic, lol.
            >he portrayed nature and exploration as both savage, dangerous, and potentially lethal AND beautiful, awe-inspiring, and existentially invigorating
            Steinbeck does this in a lot of his writing, especially the grapes of wrath and to a god unknown, but Id wager you haven't read those.
            >Filtered, midwit, cope, seethe
            It was a joke. That said, it's premise is carried out simply, in a way that can be and has been historically meant for children. His writing is often used as good examples for teenage reading, which is probably why you like it so much.
            >working class
            That's also me. Granted, I'm not out in the Yukon, but if that's your precedent for a great writer, then I don't know what to tell you. Sorry you don't get any Shakespeare, I guess. Also, please stop posting on the board. Meant sincerely.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            >Thanks for calling me an academic, lol.
            It wasn't a compliment.
            >Steinbeck does this in a lot of his writing, especially the grapes of wrath and to a god unknown, but Id wager you haven't read those.
            Steinbeck, at least as far as I could interpret, portrayed nature as threatening and hostile and counter to human interests. Sure, that's part of the equation. But there's no love there, no embrace of the wild like with London.
            >That said, it's premise is carried out simply, in a way that can be and has been historically meant for children.
            Again, this is because of hostile contempt for working class authors and the belief that they are childish, inferior, and so on.
            >Also, please stop posting on the board. Meant sincerely.
            I have posted here for 12 years and I will be posting here long after you are dead.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            >Steinbeck, at least as far as I could interpret, portrayed nature as threatening and hostile and counter to human interests. Sure, that's part of the equation. But there's no love there, no embrace of the wild like with London
            You refused to engage with the two books I mentioned, which is funny because they both do exactly this, just significantly better.
            >I have posted here for 12 years
            Then how are you still so ass at it? You made a dog-pile thread. It's almost clickbait, and because you've done so little to back up the claim, which would have taken less time than continuing this argument, it might actually be considered clickbait. Your favorite author is mid. Not because he is working class. Lots of the greats were. He's mid because his writing does nothing innovative, experimental, or significant. He's not a voice of a generation. He's a voice of a subset of a subset of one... That already had a few others. If he's your favorite author, have at it, man. But there's nothing special about him.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            >Again, this is because of hostile contempt for working class authors and the belief that they are childish, inferior, and so on.
            So why don't they say such things about Sherwood Anderson?

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            >Robert Frost
            >kitsch
            Pseud detected! Pseud alarms going off like crazy! Someone arrest this pseud! He shouldn't be allowed to run free like this!
            >worse than Stevenson
            Just stop talking already.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            Is he a vitalist? Seems to be writing vitalist works in in a vitalist era.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            I don't know if he ever explicitly identified with the philosophy, but his works do touch on a lot of those themes and I think that would be a fair characterization.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            Which, whilst very current to his era, is obviously in conflict with his Marxist admirers.
            https://d2cu82y6eo7f22.cloudfront.net/2020/01/09214104/11HG43-Schlosser.pdf

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            The thing is (and I think Orwell pointed this out), London was a very "instinctive" Marxist. I'm not sure he ever actually read or studied Marx or Engels in any depth. His social was born of his real-world experiences and the oil and suffering he witnesses among the American workers. So, he was definitely not "ideologically pure" and there was a certain idealist atmosphere pervading his works, in spite of his stringent atheism.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            I agree it doesn't distract from London's own merit, in fact it probably saves him from being written off and discarded with the socialist realists and other exploded heros of communist literature. But it is of interest how his communist admirers reconcile his Spencerism/vitalism to their thought, and whether their cheerleading for London is mere historical partisanship rather than philosophical affinity or estimation of his pedagogic merit.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            >It's hard to describe why someone's writing is good
            It's not, you just lack the knowledge required, every 18 year old getting a literature degree learns it first year. You still are just saying "because I think so," just using more words to do it.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            It's an easy thing to hind behind criticisms of sincerity, as it omits having to do any actual work. You talk of poetic prose? What's poetic about it? Is there meter? Rhyme? Alliteration? Where does London employ use of poetic tools that say, Fitzgerald, does not? You know Fitzy wrote with a copy of Keats on his desk at all times, and was known to quote nightingale in its entirety? You know Steinbeck bases sections of the grapes of wrath off of the Odyssey, the most influential poem of western civilization? You know they both take their titles from poetry? Your criticisms are, as the other anon said, upheld by nothing but your own feelings. I sincerely hope you stop posting here.

            I'm not going to write a dissertation with a bibliography on why my favorite writer is my favorite writer. If you want that level of explanation, fricking pay me.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            Didn't ask for a dissertation, just asked for something more than "because I think so," easily accomplished within the length of the post you wrote, just requires you to actually learn about literature.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            You very clearly want me to cite sources and quote specific passages from specific works and break down why I think they are superior to Steinbeck or Fitzgerald. I'm not going to do that because that would be a spectacular waste of time.

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            What I asked requires no quotes or citations or excessive length and you are showing your ignorance by claiming such.

      • 2 months ago
        Anonymous

        London was a pulp writer at best. If he wrote sci-fi he'd be remembered as one of the greats; but seeing as he wrote literary fiction that didn't say anything that hadn't already been said and had no cultural or historical relevance like Fitzgerald and Steinbeck, it's safe to say, no, he wasn't

  3. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    Is he any good? I have to say I've only seen the opposite, that London gets a haigiographic mention from communists when they dabble into literature as a rote acknowledgment of his place in their canon.

    What did Lukacs think of him?

    • 2 months ago
      Anonymous

      President Xi is more well read than most people on this board.

  4. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    He wrote might is right. He’s simply too based for this world

  5. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    Steinbeck and Hemingway were both socialists, and are considered great writers.

    • 2 months ago
      Anonymous

      Sure, but neither of them were working class. Both came from wealthy, educated families. The American intelligentsia has immense contempt for proletarian writers, especially if their works contain left-wing themes.

  6. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    Faulkner mogs. London a shit.

  7. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    Because he was a eugenicist and a racist.

  8. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    I always thought he was British.

  9. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    He's too limited to be among the greats. Once you've read To Build A Fire, A Piece of Steak, Call of the Wild and White Fang, Love of Live, The Law of Life he doesn't have much more to offer. He repeats those same themes with diminishing returns.
    Four great short stories (and they are great - APOS is the best boxing story in American fiction, beats Hemingway and Mailer) and two children's books aren't enough.

  10. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    London is the European ideal of a perfect American writer.

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