The book of Jack London - (1921) PDF by Charmian London

The book of Jack London 

The book of Jack London




Here in his own workroom, at his own work-table, which, like himself, is deep-grained, beautiful, unshamming even to its rugged knots and imperfections, I write of the Jack London whom I knew. "That one of us should go before the other is unthinkable/ he often said. Or, "It is beyond my imagining that I should be without you. . . . 

By rights we should go out together in some bright hazard, gallant shipwreck in a shouting, white gale, or shoulder to shoulder in some forgotten out-land where the red gods have called us." And again, " If I should go first, Mate Woman, it would be for you to write of me if you dare be honest," always he challenged. "But you could hardly do it," he would consider. "I fear you d not want to write of my shortcomings, which you know only too well, and your work would be valueless without them.

 Also, neither you nor I, unless it should be when I am very old, and when others are gone past wounding, can write without the restraint of the very circumstances and characters that helped to make or mar me.

 And, anyway, my dear," was his familiar conclusion, "I m going to live a hundred years because I want to, and I m going to beat you to it someday and write my own book of myself, and call it Jack Liverpool and it's going to make everybody sit up!" In some such fashion, we would speculate, summer afternoons, perhaps riding over the Beauty Ranch, or lying on the slanting deck of a ship in the Trades, or tooling our alert four-in-hand across a mountain range. 

I warn, therefore, that this book is written only for those sincere and open-minded folk who want to know the real and living facts that I can tell. So unusual a man should be honoured with an unusual biography, and mine is bound to be frank beyond the ordinary since I must approach it with frankness or do a spurious piece of work. 

I do not minimize the criticism to which I subject myself, but my philosophy is of a sort that transcends fear on this score. For Jack London was my man of men, and because I have answered these many years to his call of "my woman ", I am unafraid. I am privileged to speak my mind about him, what of his own desire; and I can but feel that I knew him somewhat, if only because he said so. 

I am forever enslaved to him for his love, for his teaching, for his infinitely manifested charity and sweetness, and this enslavement is the guerdon of my existence, in that it has taught me freedom, and led to where, within my capacity, I might view and explore the wide spaces of life and thinking. But only name him, and forthwith a thousand vivid, trenchant thoughts clamour for delivery. Even more sharply than during his life I now realize how he was eternally whelmed by surging ideas, whenever his embracing mind laid hold of a theme. 

Often and often I have seen him near despair at the impossibility of capturing and holding, for presentment to his listener, the myriad related thoughts that crowded hard under a single impelling one. The material at my hand is manifold and priceless. Much of it I shall forego, lest I wound where he hesitated to wound. But, within limitations dictated by like consideration for those he spared, I must in simple justice to him bring to bear all possible illumination. 

That is my passionate commitment to myself and what of himself he lavished upon me. One book of mine, "Our Hawaii, " has been termed by some readers as "too personal," whatever that may signify. But in my sense of the word, " personal " is precisely what that narrative set out to be. And now, suppose that all biographers assume a conservative, too-proud-to- explain pose concerning this intimate man-soul, who of his admirers misled, or at best puzzled by popular misreport, and desiring more light upon his gripping personality, is to acquire what only I have to offer? Would a woman court happiness with such as Jack London, she needs must learn to regard life broadly. Her reward, if she is wise enough to claim the reward, is obvious.

 What I absorbed of Jack London was by means of throwing wide a willing intelligence toward his nature and mental attitude. And since he went out in the midday of his brave years, I have sensed him in still subtler ways. I summon the dear ghosts of all he has meant to me, in the largess of his sharing, and always he shared;, all heritage from him of unclouded vision, purpose, straightness of speech; whatever I have meant to him; all these I beg to help me in my loving and difficult task.

 At the outset, I am appalled by what is ahead of me. Almost it looks a vain endeavour, one I would far better abandon, and confine my revelation to the commonplace if commonplace can be found in such a life, lest I invite failure by reaching too wide and deep. None but a fool dwells upon the small irks of a journey that has been undertaken all the way and back,  love and service and adventure. It is the long, long run that matters. 

The big basic considerations, the rudimental integrities, these are the saving things that buoy up life and persuade us at the end that we " liked it all." And so, in reviewing what was in our long run a rainbow trail round the curve of the world, though I shall try to write from the height of my head, making honest this document, as he would have it, without sainting his humanness, I know I shall find myself most often directed from the depth of my heart toward a bountiful estimate of his abounding lovableness, charm, and variety. 

I should be glad if I could believe that he, friend, lover, husband, for a dozen rich years, were now consciously standing over me guiding my pen his pen, with which I begin his portrait; glad for my own sake, at the same time decrying the selfishness to stay him one moment from that Field of Ardath that ever, to him, in his fairest hours, meant dreamless rest. But since I cannot even in his loss find hope and faith in what he did not believe for himself, for me, for anyone, I can yet know that what of his gift there resides in my being from those long, comprehending years together drives brain and hand to lay what I may of him "cards up on the table," as he fearlessly played his own game of living. Shortly after his death, my already awakened mettle to write of him was spurred by the remark of an American author to a common friend, "Jack London was a far greater man than some of his intimates may let us know." I, at least, shall not merit this curious implication. Jack Lon don gave so greatly to all who could see and hear and feel. 

Those who gained worse than nothing from the privilege of association with him, neighbour, sharer, the young patriarch whose burdens were so nobly borne, I can only designate as the deaf, the dumb, the blind. This, then, is my goal: to strive to expound him through the evaluations he placed upon himself which untiringly he strove to make clear to me. And to my everlasting joy and benefit, my lamps were always lit that I might less and less blindly gaze into the unfailing wonder which I found him. The vision I cherish rises undimmed, definite, appealing to be revealed as he would declare himself. Once more, as in other prefaces, I crave indulgence for that I must appear somewhat profusely in my own pages. 

Verily, in order to make a book about Jack London, I should have to make a book about myself which indeed would be all about Jack London. Here I give to the world my Jack London a virile creature compounded of curiosity and fearlessness, the very texture of fine sensibility, the loving heart and discerning intuitions of a woman, an ardent brain, and a divine belief in himself. And since he was first and foremost his own man, I render, as nearly as may be in the premises, also his own Jack London. If I prove candid to a degree, let it be remembered that he would be first to have it so.

Some contents of the book:

I the stuff of stars 15
Ii birth 25
Iii boyhood 29
Iv Livermore valley 45
V boyhood to youth: Oakland estuary, sailor-
Ing, etc 62
Vi cannery buys sloop "Razzle dazzle" queen
Of the oyster pirates 73
Vii oyster pirating < 83
Viii fish-patrol 99
Ix " Sophie Sutherland," sealing 110
X autumn into spring, 1893-1894 jute mill;
Coal shovelling; boy-and-girl love . . . 135
Xi tramping " the road" 147
Xii tramping 165
Xiii high school 187
Xiv at the University of California .... 210
Xv into klondike 222
Xvi out of klondike 247
Xvii return from klondike lily maid letters. 258
Xviii the cloudesley johns correspondence . . 277


book details :
  • Author: Charmian London 
  • Publication date: 1921
  • Company: New York, Century Co

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