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The sea-wolf by Jack London

The sea-wolf (original 1904; edition 1961)

by Jack London

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2,326312,710 (3.91)69
Title:The sea-wolf
Authors:Jack London
Info:Printed for the members of the Limited Editions Club by Connecticut Printers (1961), Hardcover, 354 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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The Sea Wolf by Jack London (1904)


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English (28)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
From one of my favorite authors. An intriguing tale of good vs. evil, embodied in a sea voyage and pitting a ruthless animal of a sea captain against a soft, weak, untested gentleman. Their battle of wits and will makes for powerful reading and the sailing descriptions and terms are well presented and believable.

A definite must read for Jack London fans. ( )
  ChrisNorbury | Apr 17, 2014 |
Shear genius! This is one of my new all-time favorites. Who knew London could write like this after laboring through "White Fang," which was good but not great. But this, this is as captivating as Wolf Larsen's eyes and behavior! Only through London's imaginative descriptions could I marvel at an entire page about a man's eyes.
“The eyes—and it was my destiny to know them well—were large and handsome, wide apart as the true artist’s are wide, sheltering under a heavy brow and arched over by thick black eyebrows. The eyes themselves were of that baffling protean grey which is never twice the same; which runs through many shades and colourings like intershot silk in sunshine; which is grey, dark and light, and greenish-grey, and sometimes of the clear azure of the deep sea. They were eyes that masked the soul with a thousand guises, and that sometimes opened, at rare moments, and allowed it to rush up as though it were about to fare forth nakedly into the world on some wonderful adventure,—eyes that could brood with the hopeless sombreness of leaden skies; that could snap and crackle points of fire like those which sparkle from a whirling sword; that could grow chill as an arctic landscape, and yet again, that could warm and soften and be all a-dance with love-lights, intense and masculine, luring and compelling, which at the same time fascinate and dominate women till they surrender in a gladness of joy and of relief and sacrifice.”

Excerpt From: London, Jack. “The Sea Wolf.” iBooks.
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Most of the book was like this. I was glad to be on my iPad so I could look up a lot of words to get the full expression of his writing. Fun read. I devoured it faster than usual. I could actually read it again to absorb the dialogue better. The many discussions about the ferment of humanity are awesome and there's even a bit of Ayne Rand philosophy in Wolf Larsen's attitude about altruism. Love this book!
( )
  KikiUnhinged | Feb 9, 2014 |
A classic tale of adventure at sea, The Sea-Wolf tells the story of the naïve young Humphrey van Weyden, whose ship is wrecked in a terrible storm. He is rescued by the mysterious Captain Wolf Larsen of the ship Ghost. Humphrey’s new life aboard Ghost will test him to the limits of his endurance but also bring him the greatest happiness he has ever known. Captain Wolf Larsen is a powerful, brutal man with a razor sharp intelligence. When there is an attempted mutiny on board he shows no mercy to the would-be mutineers, and when his brother Death Larsen attempts to take over the Ghost by force, there is no love lost between them in their vicious battle. Wolf’s cruel manner is thrown into sharp relief by the gentle spirit of the beautiful poetess also rescued, Maud Brewster, who charms both Wolf and Humphrey. As Humphrey falls in love with Maud, he must contend not only with the dangers of being at sea but with competition from his cruel and scheming captain. The Sea-Wolf is a dramatic tale of mutiny and shipwreck, but at its heart is the story of a love that flourishes in the unlikeliest of places. Jack London’s thrilling narrative of the seven seas remains just as gripping today as it was a hundred years ago. ( )
  BambambooTC | Aug 20, 2013 |
Apparently the adage that reasonable minds can differ is true.

I found this book quite disappointing. The characters were simplistic, and the story line was overplayed and unrealistic. An excellent adventure novel for those of high school age, but in my opinion little more. For those who appreciate subtlety and sophistication, better to look elsewhere. ( )
  la2bkk | Jul 29, 2013 |
My reactions to reading this novel in 1991. Some spoilers follow.

A very enjoyable novel to read -- for about the first half. Brutal, brilliant, relentlessly Darwinian Wolf Larsen, captain of the Ghost, is one of fiction’s great characters. His utter reasoned, selfishness, malicious ruthlessness, and passion for life’s struggle are charismatic. Brutal he may be (and London explicitly compares him to Milton’s Lucifer) but, like Humphrey van Weyden and Maud Brewster, we are fascinated by him, his body, mind, and the soul he would deny. Larsen stands as an eloquent exponent of the pure Darwinian struggle where a man is rewarded by elation for living, for moving. He owes only himself gratification (“piggishness” as Larsen calls it) and knows he must live by preying on other life. But, unlike van Weyden, he makes no distinction between man and the rest of life. Man struggles and preys and is as amoral as any other animal. This great story of dramatized philosophical conflict between Larsen and “sissy” van Weyden’s bookish (Larsen is impressively versed in many matters), civilized, spiritual values is compelling.

Then the character of Maud Brewster is introduced and the novel degenerates. It is not enough that, through contrived coincidence, Brewster and van Weyden know each other. They have to develop a sappily described romance. Granted their demeanor may have seemed natural to London, and Gilligan's introduction indicates his displeasure, but he says London’s personal life was often filled with such nonsense. Brewster is Larsen’s antithesis. This is explicitly stated, and London does an implicit contrast between Larsen’s finely developed body and Brewster’s perceived fraility. Larsen's materialism is compared with Brewster's spirituality. But the dialogue and romantic description is overblown to modern ears. I think London could have portrayed the same events in less grating, shorter ways.

Gilligan is also right in seeing this as sort of a brutal, adult Captain Courageous where Larsen, in his own words, teaches van Weyden to stand “on his own legs”. Unlike Gilligan, I don’t have any particular problems with van Weyden transforming from scrawny, pretensious, bookish, isolated, pampered literary critic to hardened, practical man of the sea who has seen man’s brutality and accepted a bit of the vista Larsen has shown of life. He is willing to revert to the primitive in protecting his “woman”.

This savagery of the animal kingdom shows up elsewhere in the novel. Leach’s constant challenges to Larsen seem like a young pup challenging the alpha wolf of a pack. Van Weyden’s protectiveness of Brewster is mirrored in the seal bulls protecting their harem. But Brewster is annoying. I kept hoping Wolf would throw her over the side or somehow shut her up. And both van Weyden and Brewster refuse, being the sensitive, civilized, literary types they are, to gun Larsen down. A shortcoming that Larsen himself berates and mocks. He mocks van Weyden’s squimishness, his inability to act out of self-interest to preserve his interest, to forsake morality and convention for self-gain, to forsake, I suppose, government for anarchy (Larsen, towards the novel’s end, calls himself an anarchist).

I find the conflict for van Weyden’s soul between Larsen and Brewster interesting in terms of London’s own values. To an atheist, materialist Larsen represents a view of life’s struggle, its self-contained value apart from notions of immortality and soul and life’s unfairness towards those less fortunate and the tragedy of brilliance like Larsen’s wasted due to the circumstances its born into. Larsen is unswayed by Brewster sentimental, spiritual arguments right up to the end, even though his body is imprisoning him and the essential quality of life for him -- movement -- is being taken. To London, Brewster’s caring, her gentleness, even towards Larsen, must temper the Darwinian universe and make it a better place for man, but he personally rejected her and van Weyden’s religious values. A brilliant character in Larsen that transcends the book’s faults -- including the Ghost coincidentally showing up on Endeavor Island or the obvious symbology in Larsen’s illness.
  RandyStafford | Nov 18, 2012 |
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Sutherland, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I scarcely know where to begin, though I sometimes facetiously place the cause of it all to Charley Furuseth’s credit. He kept a summer cottage in Mill Valley, under the shadow of Mount Tamalpais, and never occupied it except when he loafed through the winter mouths and read Nietzsche and Schopenhauer to rest his brain.
“One kiss, dear love,” I whispered. “One kiss more before they come.”

“And rescue us from ourselves,” she completed, with a most adorable smile, whimsical as I had never seen it, for it was whimsical with love.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0895773384, Hardcover)

In The Sea-Wolf, London's most gripping novel, Humphrey Van Weyden is rescued from the freezing waters of San Francisco Bay by a demonic sea captain and introduced to fates far worse that death. Through this story London recalls his own adventures on a sealing vessel at the age of seventeen. John Sutherland's notes include a history of pelagic seal hunting and an account of the many cinematic versions of this novel.

About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:49 -0400)

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A young art critic is forced to endure the wrath of Wolf Larsen, captain of the sealing schooner which rescues him after a shipwreck.

(summary from another edition)

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