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The Call of the Wild (1903)

by Jack London

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
19,395314229 (3.79)2 / 529
The adventures of an unusual dog, part St. Bernard, part Scotch shepherd, that is forcibly taken to the Klondike gold fields where he eventually becomes the leader of a wolf pack.
  1. 161
    White Fang by Jack London (Anonymous user, kxlly)
    Anonymous user: Jack London's other famous tale of dogs in the wild.
  2. 30
    War Horse by Michael Morpurgo (LipstickAndAviators)
    LipstickAndAviators: Both are tales of an animal going through various hardships, many different masters and lots of adventures. The setting is very different, being about a cavalary horse in World War 1 but often the themes and scenarios are very similar.
  3. 52
    Watership Down by Richard Adams (mcenroeucsb)
  4. 21
    Finn the Wolfhound by A. J. Dawson (infiniteletters)
  5. 10
    The Good Dog by Avi (bookel)
  6. 10
    A Dog Named Wolf by Erik Munsterhjelm (bookel)
  7. 10
    Sixteen in Nome by Max Brand (VictoriaPL)
  8. 10
    Howl at the Moon by Robert J. Hogan (bookel)
  9. 11
    Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow (fundevogel)
  10. 11
    The Wolfling by Sterling North (bookel)
  11. 11
    The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service (Curran2)
  12. 02
    The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna (hippietrail)
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» See also 529 mentions

English (297)  French (4)  Spanish (3)  Danish (2)  Catalan (2)  German (2)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (312)
Showing 1-5 of 297 (next | show all)
This short novel was another book I managed to avoid throughout junior high and high school, and now that I'm firmly ensconced in middle age, I decided to give it a go- I'm so glad I did.

Buck is a half-St. Bernard, half-shepherd dog living the lazy life with a judge and his extended family. He is kidnapped and sold by one of the judge's employees, and is shipped off to the Klondike Gold Rush, where he is mercilessly beaten and broken, and turned into a work dog. London tells Buck's story from Buck's point of view, as different owners come and go, until he finds his ideal master in John Thornton. Buck learns to survive, then thrive, but he is often drawn by an (un?)imagined call to the wild, to be as free as his wolf ancestors.

All my reading life, I was led to believe this was a mild story about a man and his dog (*yawn*), and their adventures. Instead, "The Call of the Wild" is a harsh, often violent and gory, tale of Buck's survival. This might explain the failure of some recent film adaptations, which seem to be stuck in the "family-friendly" reputation of the book. I was captivated by Buck's situations, and repulsed by the harsh realities. Reading as Buck "turns wild" is both exhilarating and melancholy. London's reputation has suffered over the past few years. He was an alcoholic, free-love-practicing Socialist who was terrible with money; and has now been charged with the ultimate cancel culture crime- racism. I'm usually able to separate the author's personal life from the written work, better than I can do the same between film makers and films, and London's words quickly made me forget any Wikipedia entries and self-righteous social media protests.

I happened upon this copy in a book lot I received a long time ago, and this edition was complete and unabridged. The foreword and afterword were written by Dwight Shain, but the afterword gets John Thornton's name wrong THREE different times on one page, which is very sloppy publishing. I don't know if I'll happen on another London story, but color me pleasantly surprised at this. ( )
  Charles_T_Tatum_Jr | Oct 31, 2023 |
Although parts of this story were brutal the book was a beautiful story of nature. ( )
  secondhandrose | Oct 31, 2023 |
I remember how alive this felt when I read it as a boy but I can't recapture that feeling anymore. ( )
  A.Godhelm | Oct 20, 2023 |
“He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.”

First published in 1903 'The Call of the Wild' is set during the Klondike Gold Rush in Yukon in the 1890's. It is written from the perspective of Buck, an impressive St. Bernard and German Shepard cross stolen from his California home to be sold to gold prospectors to work the icy trails of Alaska and northern Canada.

Buck’s journey, involves beatings, a series of new masters, brawls with other sled dogs and struggles for survival but in the process he is transformed from loyal pet to uninhibited, into an, at times, aggressive animal.

“The Call of the Wild” is an adventure story and as such is great for young people to read, its language is simple and easy to follow but it can also teach children about inner strength, respect for authority and for nature albeit told from the point of view of a dog.

Buck witnesses and learns from men’s experiences. He comes to understand human nature, what makes men good or bad. He discovers and does what is necessary to gain supremacy among his peers. He realizes that to be part of and succeed in a man-made society, he must abide by men's rules. Buck experiences instinctively pulls him toward his natural primordial ways, but his love for his last human master John Thornton is the thin thread tying him to a life among humans and draws him back to camp. But when he is unwillingly separated from Thornton he gives these ties up for good.

For older readers, Buck’s story serves as a parable. Like any person, Buck struggles to find life’s meaning. He experiences the conflict of choosing between following one’s instincts and playing to society’s rules. Buck fights for his life, a life that despite its hardships, he respects and appreciates. Buck exemplifies what is good and natural, despite periods of adversity.

There is understandably little in the way of dialogue, just a few phrases from Buck’s human contacts. Yet London’s simple language flows naturally and there is little need for dialogue. The reader can easily relate with the hardships that Buck, his canine brethren and the humans' have to endure during the harsh frozen Yukon winters and the sheer burst of new life that spring and summer can bring even if they carry their own risks.

For such a short, simple book, it is profound. As Buck fights to survive his ancestral roots are awakened and he comes ever more alive. There is something in this book for everyone no matter what your age and it is rightly regarded as a classic. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Aug 31, 2023 |
I felt this book kind of fizzled out at the end. The first 3/4 of it was amazing, but then it didn't have a comparable climax and denouement to balance the strength of the rising action. Still, it's an excellent book, and it's obvious why this is a classic. I'm looking forward to teaching this to middle-schoolers in a few weeks. I think they will really like it, too. ( )
  beckyrenner | Aug 3, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 297 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (373 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
London, Jackprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Allen, DouglasIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
AviIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Backman, KerstinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Backman, OlleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Banus, TudorIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bartos, Zoltánsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Behre, IngalillTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Berton, PierreIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bourrières, SylvainIllustrationssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bull, Charles LivingstonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burgess, MelvinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bylock, MajTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Callender, Wesley P., Jr.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Daniels, JeffNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davidson, AndrewIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dèttore, UgoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drangel, MathildaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dressler, RogerNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dressler, RogerNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dufris, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Engene, GeneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Galard, Mme deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Galard, Raymonde deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gascoigne, MartinIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goodwin, Philip R.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gregori, LeeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hootkins, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Husmann, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kidder, HarveyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Killavey, JimNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kramer, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lagerstedt, GeorgIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laverdet, MarcelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawlor, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leclere, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Minor, WendellIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moser, BarryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muller, FrankNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Munch, PhilippeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Munro, AlanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nagar, Sachinsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nyberg, OlaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palmquist, EricIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paulsen, GaryForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Poor, Henry VarnumIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schreiber, PabloNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Mark F.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Todd, RobertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vajda, MiklósTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wagner, Lloyd S.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Westerlund, Hans G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zimmermann, WalterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tide-water dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego.
[it was] because men, groping in the Arctic darkness, had found a yellow metal, and because steamship and transportation companies were booming the find, thousands of men were rushing into the Northland. These men wanted dogs, and the dogs they wanted were heavy dogs, with strong muscles by which to toil and furry coats to protect them from the frost.
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Disambiguation notice
This is the main work for The Call of the Wild by Jack London. Do not combine with any adaptation, abridgement, or omnibus containing additional works.

For example, don't combine this work with the Companion Library edition that also has Black Beauty. THIS belongs to the PUBLISHER'S SERIES and the other DOES NOT.

Unabridged editions include: Tor(0812504321),
This work should not be combined with either film adaptations or with the book by Jack London; it cannot be distinguished from either. If you have a copy of this work, please consider supplying the author's name (if it is a book) or the director's name (if it is a film adaptation).
This work contains additional material. Do not combine with the original work.
Be aware that the ISBN 1580495842 belongs to editions of both The Call of the Wild and an omnibus edition of both The Call of the Wild and "To Build a Fire".
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The adventures of an unusual dog, part St. Bernard, part Scotch shepherd, that is forcibly taken to the Klondike gold fields where he eventually becomes the leader of a wolf pack.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Buck, a sturdy crossbreed canine (half St. Bernard, half Shepard), is a dog born to luxury and raised in a sheltered Californian home. But then he is kidnapped and sold to be a sled dog in the harsh and frozen Yukon Territory. Passed from master to master, Buck embarks on an extraordinary journey, proving his unbreakable spirit...
First published in 1903, The Call of the Wild is regarded as Jack London’s masterpiece. Based on London’s experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence, The Call of the Wild is a tale about unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike.
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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141321059, 014119488X, 0141336544

Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100941, 1400108535

Library of America Paperback Classics

An edition of this book was published by Library of America Paperback Classics.

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Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1907832777, 1907832769

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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