Jack London (1876-1916)
Jack London, an American writer of short stories, novels, memoirs, and socialist essays, grew up in poverty and was mostly self-educated. Born in San Francisco as John Griffith Chaney, he was raised by his mother, a music teacher, after being abandoned by his father, an itinerant astrologer. He would later take the surname of his stepfather, a poor shopkeeper. Throughout his life, London was variously a hobo, seaman, Klondike Gold Rush prospector, Socialist Party candidate for mayor, investigative journalist, and war correspondent, as well as one of the great American novelists. He is criticized, however, for racist viewpoints and a brand of socialism that at times reads more like fascism. Major works include The Call of the Wild (1903), White Fang (1906), The Sea Wolf (1904), The Iron Heel (1908), Martin Eden (1909), The Star Rover (1915), and others.
John Barleycorn , the autobiography of Jack London, takes its title from the 19th Century personification of alcohol in the person of John Barleycorn, who the author describes as " a red-handed killer" that "slays youth." Opening in support of the right of women to vote and the prohibition of alcohol at a time when neither had yet passed in the United States, London traces his own relationship with alcohol, from his first hangover at five years of age to the ongoing lure of San Francisco's waterfront bars, into the succeeding years as the alcohol worked slowly, progressively, to gain control over him. First published in 1913, to a startled readership.
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