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Title: 'The star rover' : Jack London and the culture of his times
Author: Briscoe, E.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1998
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This thesis documents the significant involvement of London's fiction with contemporary culture. In doing so it calls particular attention to his intellectual restlessness and to his methodology of adoption and adaptation. I argue that London combined his role as a successful popular writer with a steadfast commitment to experimentation and innovation, producing works that were and are complex and challenging. In the first chapter I analyse the circumstances that contributed to London's successful emergence into the literary marketplace at the turn of the century. I examine the genesis of London's Klondike stories, and argue that they presented readers with prose that was meticulously tailored to reflect the characteristics and dilemmas inherent in the northland environment. The following three chapters focus individually on three novels that provide the reader with especially pronounced stylistic and structural challenges: Before Adam (1907), The Iron Heel (1908) and Adventure (1911). Each chapter outlines the immediate context of the works and then proceeds to a close critical reading, highlighting the unique perspectives they offer on popular tastes and attitudes. I demonstrate that London's innovations clearly distinguish him from his contemporaries and that they resist efforts to abbreviate the remarkable variety of his work. In the final chapter I turn to the subject of authorship itself, arguing that Martin Eden (1909) provides us with a gritty portrayal of authorship's estrangement within America's fierce economic environment. The result is a novel that powerfully illustrates both London's intense involvement with contemporary culture and his capacity for responding to it with insight and originality. By revealing the multiple sources that influenced the genesis of individual works, I hope to shed new light upon the connection between London's reading and his writing; and thereby make possible new assessments of his relation to turn-of the-century literature.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available