by Jack London
Published by Collins Classics • January 1, 2011
144 Pages • ISBN 978-0007420230 • Paperback
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‘Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire, and to plunge into the forest.’
Half St. Bernard, half sheepdog, Buck is stolen away from his comfortable life as a pet in California and sold to dog traders. He soon finds himself aboard a ship, on its way to Northern Canada. Surrounded by cruelty, Buck’s natural instincts and behavior begin to emerge as he works as a mail carrying sled dog, scavenging for food, protecting himself against other dogs and sleeping out in the cold snow.
Sold to a group of American gold hunters who are inexperienced living in the wilderness, the dogs are treated badly and as misfortune besets them, Buck is saved by John Thornton. Indebted to his new master, Buck remains by Thornton’s side, saving him from drowning and protecting him with fierce loyalty throughout their time together. However, Buck can not deny the strong lure of the wilderness around him.
Exciting and action-packed, The Call of the Wild explores the timeless relationship between man and dog, and the inevitable draw of primitive instincts that pull Buck away from civilization and humanity towards the lawless and harsh wilderness.
Another one of those books that seems to have gotten past me in my school days, I just recently read The Call of the Wild for the first time. Like many of these books that I'm discovering pretty much everyone else has read except me, I think I'm glad that I came at them as an adult, as I don't think I would have revisited them had I read them earlier, and I don't think I would have taken away as much when I was younger. Jack London's story about Buck, a St. Bernard-Scotch Shepherd who is kidnapped from his idyllic southern California home to be a sled dog in the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush is a powerful tale. We follow Buck's journey as he discovers that not all men are kind like his previous owners, learns to navigate the ins and outs of the sled dog's pack pecking order, and finally as he discovers the primal nature of his being as he eventually starts to venture out into the wilderness on his own. The imagery that London uses in describing Buck's discovery of that primal nature is remarkable; I think of anything else in the book, I enjoyed these sequences best.