tv Book Discussion on Jack London CSPAN October 31, 2015 4:33pm-5:31pm EDT
banks for coming to this southern festival of books. we're delighted to have you if you enjoyed yourself we hope he will make a donation on our website because this is a nonprofit event we would like to keep a free and open to everyone is really like your donations for that. i am delighted to introduce the professor from vanderbilt university and specializing of the 19th and 20th century
literature with the social critique to country music covering a wide variety of topics. in addition to her scholarly work play is welcome cecilia to the podium. [applause] >> they explore spending an hour to hear about jack london a name that is so familiar but in other ways unfamiliar. some people they come of surfing with of pioneers
loosely we think of the "call of the wild" these are books that have become classics there are reenlisted junior highs and high schools and and that is the jack london that we think we go. he went for the gold rush in 1897, he found almost as if they but but that cluster of stories listening to the inuit people to you tell their solutions -- their stars -- stories and the starving dogs everywhere. for he came back determined to be a writer to say what he could happen at that moment he was in sync with
the american public people were reading about exotic places. gosh -- "national geographic" with the disposable income and the time to spend an evening in leisure reading so london in this sense to always know he was the man and was safe with his editors you know, that i deliver the goods and i delivered to the market's with his livelihood with no other source of income.
but the jack london who is in his boyhood was not only poor but who worked at some of the most wheels of jobs in the industrial system had produced let jack experienced and stored up into muscle memory was a recollection with the scarry of how that was to be the industrial labour in the first killed day each that was his lifetime board 8076 the 100 your birthday of the declaration of independence. in philadelphia the first of america took the stage and
the imperial power and the big defection brainpower with ted million visitors that saw the philadelphia fair that summer. it was the bounty of good things that the industrial system has brought to america jack london, however lived the underside of that killed it gauge. what will read every -- ever wants a piece of kildare jewelry? underneath the cheyenne and the glitter something less valuable. so that was that mark twain branded that era.
to provide fresh beef at affordable prices for much of america. all of these good goodies and it wasn't pretty. yes he had the boyhood jobs that our customary with a paper route and helped the ice began to set up the pins in the bowling alley and all the themes they would do. $0.10 an hour to work as the
hours as to stay off the job. i'm sure that is true. two sick co-workers figures sliced off to require any safety equipment. and he was seduced by an employer that if you started at the bottom of the electric company workforce from a managerial position so in the dark bunker to heat up the boiler for steam
power to shovel in his wrist would swell and abroad he would wrap them with whether it would keep shoveling that he learned he was being paid less than two bin who previously had that job. and if not he may have impaired his wrist possibly with a lifelong disability. hi they've recognized he had done a co-worker had scalding baths of starch over 100 degrees in he realized from these jobs dead end a number of young band and women did the united states who work out their lives by mid dash with
the old course's ready for the rendering glue factory. how did he get out of that life? it is a serious question. rigo he shipped out on the voyage to the bering sea and criticized sailing but that was hard work. he came back home and went to the gold rush of wasn't working he felt if he did not is a visual labor he also would be dead sooner rather than animator. he had to of vintages. his mother was an educated woman from an ohio family in she taught jack to read in by age four he was reading in every spare moment he loved reading.
thereto oakland california public library's who helped him. they saw this kid, in scruffy that was by died and inquisitive. the first one was poet laureate in the state of california and the second was ab and named frederick a fastidious man well groomed to with fresh flowers on the desk he befriended the london those to the librarians and a mother who insisted that her son to learn to read. back from a the klondike and the gold rush facing more bejewel labor jobs, and i have to say, facing the possibility as well that if he would lapse into cry
because shortly he had. he saw there was easy money. he started to steal oysters from privately held oyster beds in the middle of the night and would end up in the awarding and then treat his friends to good times and then the money was gone. that if he would go into crime he would be in san quentin or maybe dead as a number of his friends were. so righty became his lifeline did he begin
tutorial 6918 hours a day this time with the hope to break out of the manual labor we have to ask coming to what extent did he flee those early experiences or to what extent might he have been vetted messages for his readers to take hold of? i want to show you. i will put it against my chest. this is a reproduction of the desk -- the dust jacket cover of the "call of the wild" the novel that made him famous 1903. guerrero's of dogs a very
good book designer. and they are all in harnesses. so if it's the story, a call love the wild, a dog taken from its home, is dognaped and take it north to the yukon where it is strapped into a harness with other dogs and we see them here. what matters to see is there a work group and if one reads the "call of the wild" in school these days very often the messages simply this is a tribute to individualism and freedom. these are the values of america. indeed they are our national values cobweb up for a long
period in that novel received a hero's dog in the harnesses and we see that of brutality. they are clubbed a hand whipped and lashed and in order for one to be fed another is undernourished. so of course, they are rivals. there rivals for food which is their wages. if not long section before the hero dog escapes will get an animal fable of the industrial world. wages are too low to support life. when we hear those dogs singing in a minor key a song for life, pleading for life would recede and described as pro-am you dating skeletons -- preview
leading skeletons it is looking at what has gone wrong in industrial america to the people are working like dogs he called himself a work beast. therefore he used the dog, another kind of peace to tell what is wrong in america. too many workers in a harness underfed and under paid with new freedom of their own and when one dogged the story is too exhausted to recover, it its muscles are in the state of complete depletion it is cut loose and got rid of.
so the workers for fitting their lives for this kind of work so london discovered a way to talk to the upper middle-class readers who had to buy his books who had the leisure to read the books and what he was trying to do with shape public opinion. for instance here is a situation that he faced. the upper-middle-class readers and he thought maybe there even 3 million of them in the population of the time of about 80 million, they sent to their children to school. of course, they did they would not dream of sending their boys or girls into a factory. but they thought the children of immigrants were the children of the pork certainly ought to be at
work there would help the families with their wages. and they would learn discipline to build character so there was the split between the lives of the children of the well off and the children who happen to come from poverty. wanted is from a group of reformers with the illiterate adults with no skills, and no ability to think clearly no mathematical abilities and in his novels a year and short stories cover remember he wrote 50 books, hundreds of short stories many were best sellers and the magazines that carry his stories were hurt -- were mass-market magazines out to the millions in of the
course somewhere in barbershops were there were borrowed everyone loved jack london. but embedded in his stories we have the opportunity to see a reformist a message that taps into our own time. we see it in print we are in the second to gilded age. what does this mean? rate to the quality is so vast it has captured public attention the occupy movement of a few years ago seems to have melted away but that 1% a and 89% are the figures that stock. we have children of
immigrants, the son of undocumented better not getting the proper schooling that they need. we have safety concerns of water that seems to periodically make ends for lack of testing. that eric and willingness to let the environment becomes unsafe. we are in the second to kill the day agenda i would extend that to jack london's interest in agriculture because he started far been -- farming. first he just wanted a weekend retreat he was a celebrated writer that reporters would flock to take pictures and he just wanted to get away his part
is now in this and all the county. fluff left london discovered is he bought land that was depleted by bad farming practices. it was wanting to see that going on in sonoma but in his research said it was going on everywhere in the united states. who not only in the cotton and the tobacco fields that quickly deplete the soil but also in the vegetables and fruits. farmers who jefferson called the stewards of the earth were not such goods to words. they would start a farm, when the soil was depleted with new lenders
mitt, move on. one of his neighbors said i worked out reforms. -- three farms in he thought this will just not work for america. he was in east asia and he saw the paddies where the rice crops were grown in the narrow strips and taught they have been beating themselves for centuries on this method. we need to do something like this. so he began a research program he always wanted to researching and learn the facts of what he was about. at this time the united states department of agriculture also realize that you ocean in the depletion of the soil was causing havoc in the american farmland they were
publishing bulletin's about it. jack london resolved not use any chemical additives on his soil, and not to use gasoline powered machinery on his farm. at the end of his life he was winning california's state fair prices, a blue ribbons for prize livestock. he wanted to establish a program that would be a model for the nation. here we are in the second gilded age with industrial agriculture causing all kinds of problems with pesticides, runoff, depletion of water so here again, and jack london leading the way using the word sustainable one time, urging the new farmer in trading to look around at
what a show was to ring and looked outside of the academy. london felt strongly although colleges the huge universities were doing a wonderful job but in some ways they were a closed book not sufficiently understanding the underside of the industrial world. make no mistake jack clinton did not want to return to their prior era of sad farming and people making their own soap from fireplace ashes. he loved the bounty of the new industrial system but the problem is those who have created the system, the rockefellers, read the carnegie's the vanderbilts vanderbilts, is that they
are hot style to the world they have made. they made it possible for a vast number of americans to enjoy the county of the production of this rich country and the products coming of the factories and the mills, the read it possible. but they stand aloof. their distribution is terrible. they have reserved to the good things of the world they have created for a small number of people. what is necessary is to open it up. i have given one example with the "call of the wild" in which we see the mistreated sled dogs. how to get public attention for the wrongdoings of the night gilded age.
that is what he was up to. he told his wife he wanted to get inside the head of his readers to plant a seed seed, capture thinking that "the reader" decide even though he is thinking. we could call it brainwashing. he did not have that term but that is what he wanted to do for the well-being of those that were not getting rich from breaking lou dash from writing it had the weather opportunities to read enjoyed the industrial world that jack was finally able to win july. . . --
if we ask what does socialism mean, what did it mean to him? two things. aren't we, he asked, social beings? don't we want to live together as social beings, all of us? shouldn't the organization of our world, can't we figure this out and do better for ourselves, those were his two principles of socialism and very distinct from communism which he had no use
for and anarchism which he thought was crazy. too often, those sort of marriage in the public mind and were on that,. london's wife said whenever he gave lectures that were socialistic in their ideas his book sales slumped and may be that is true. here for instance is what he would say, standing up on a stage in new york where 4,000 people came to hear him, gail university, woolsey hall, 2,000, president of yale was there, conservative professors were there and so were workers of the winchester repeating arms factory and other mills and various smelters in the area.
london would ask why, in this country of 80 million people, are 1 million not properly housed and fed? why in this country are 80,000 children working out their lives in mills, then he would pause. he would ask what does the great capitalists have to say to a insert this? he does not, he cannot. beat twe the people must do bet. not everyone was thrilled to hear his mandate, is injunction to come forward and reform, but many many more appreciated his fiction, his stories and novels and in them, in them, were
embedded life lessons. let me talk about one separate from the call of the wild. in london's novel, it was very popular until a few years ago, it is still in print, we as readers ally with martin, young man, he has been that sailor, he wants to get educated, trying to find his way, he has a girlfriend from the upper-middle-class, he is watching his verbs call all is going along bubbling. we find in the summer martin is broke. the girlfriend and her family at the cool mountain resort, martin also goes to the mountains as a laborer and laundry and here again you can hear it, jack london could draw upon his experience in that laundry.
here is the scene. on the terrace, in starched linen, cool, white lace, callers, all the resort guests are sipping iced drinks and fanning themselves trying to keep cool, meanwhile in the laundry is martin and his co-worker toiling all day, coiling half the night, facts of starch, the steam irons, fear of scourging some lady's petticoat, london keeps this team going for a couple of chapters. we can't miss it as readers. we are stuck there, not on the terrace, down in that laundry, and in the middle of that novel, by which time we are for martin, we went in to do well, london is asking what side are you on?
can you do something about a world in which slave labor is making it possible for some people to enjoy leisure? shipment everybody have some leisure? shouldn't working conditions be altered for the benefit of people doing this hard, hard manual labor? ask anybody who has read that novel and they will say remember that one free seeing? absolutely you remember the laundry scene because london made clear that his reform imperatives had to be a part of fiction. here is what is different about jack london from other reformers. others. one had come from affluent families. it is to their credit that they
saw american culture failing in so many regards. work places that made you sick, children pulling in the mills when they should be in school and on and on. but they wrote reports very often, maybe made a speeches, the reports appeals to the intellect. fiction could appeal to the heart as well as to the intellect. hearts and minds. that was london's dual goal and that is what he did. when we look back at jack london's life, his writings, what it means, we asked for today, so what? why should we go back and rethink this singular figure?
celebrated marquee name in american letters to this day? one answer is that his is a lesson on how an individual taking hold could make a big difference in a society that really needs correction. london's life span moved from the gilded age into the progressive era. wind we had legislation involving children in school, kindergarten movement, workplace safety. these were issues that came into the united states and into the thinking not only of political figures but of citizens, citizens who london said had been stirred in their minds in this phrase, he said i want to stir a noble discontent, a noble
discontent to appeal to the best of our moral and ethical drives and to convert that discontent into action. so london's life span, could really be a model for this world we are in now that once again needs so much attention for society and well-being and i needn't name all the terms. i want to read you a little passage from my book and show you some footage. are we up for that? the passage i want to read comes just add the point where jack london had been on a speaking tour of the sort i was talking about a while ago, gave his talks in new york, gave his talk
at deal but he had been on tour throughout the u.s. speaking at colleges and universities, he wanted young people to know what their obligation would be ahead of them in their careers. he and his wife, he had new the remarried, his second marriage was the successful marriage. his first marriage, now divorced, he had two daughters in oakland and let me say he supported his ex-wife, he supported his daughters, his mother and an african-american nursemaid, and any who cared for him when he was just an infant and he supported her for the rest of her life too so he had serious financial obligations. he had come back from this lecture tour which was demanding and the reigning and he is back at the ranch literally and everybody thinks oh good, he is
settling down going to farm. jack london waited an imperial cigarette, reached for his think pencil and began an important, jolting letter to the editor of cosmopolitan magazine. it was february 18th, 1906. >> very close. the materials checked out work registered library card. please note that includes those things when the author talks. >> we will be out of here at 20. should i -- ask the cameramen, should i start reading again? what do you think? keep it going, keep it going. all right. it was february 18, 1906, and is opening sentence was as simple
as it was stunning, quote, the keel is laid. the nautical term fractured the pastoral moment, london seemed rooted in residence in this although my hills of his 130 acre california ranch. lost no time getting back to writing from his lectures for the previous fall and early winter. his wife blamed the rigorous tour for the dark shadows lurking about his eyes but jack relied on the healing powers of his blessed ranch as he called his farm. he hummed to himself while filing letters and scanned the newspapers for possible story ideas convinced the daily papers represented life in its raw essentials. they bought two seated rig and run about to glen ellen for the railroad station and ordered
fruit trees and dozens of varieties for the ranch, when their dog surprised them with a litter of puppies jack selected the best one for his daughters in oakland. at work each morning he often paused to read his latest manuscript pages aloud before the ink was dry. she later typed them and tallied the world, to all appearances the londons were at home at glen ellen for the foreseeable future. jack's pronouncement, the keel is late, shattered that notion. the keel in question was the would spine of a beam that ran from the bow to the stern of a 45 foot sailboat he had ordered from san francisco boat yard located across the way from oakland. the boat under construction was custom designed by jack with two equal the vital goals in mind,
beauty and strength. qualities he prize in every realm of life including his favorite recreation, selling. just as he stables handsome horses and raised boxing gloves for fitness so jack london always kept solitudes or quick escape with friends. year-round sailing the inland waters of the san francisco bay was his passion as his friends and readers knew. while he enjoyed the summer's gale force sea breeze off the pacific he reveled in the defiant wintery howling no.s, whether boats named spray or roemer, his sailboats were unbeatable for what he called hard work and excitement because small boats test and amanda's ability to take wood and iron and rope and canvas and compel it to obey his will on the
surface of the sea. the announcement of the new kiel in the letter to the editor singled -- signaled momentous change. you was staking his claim to worldwide sailing adventures to begin next autumn. ever restless, defying borders and boundaries, he planned to devote the next seven years of his life to a personal era of global exploration with a small crew, he intended to sail the wild world and encountered lands and peoples first hand on his terms and under his command. the boat yard listed his boat as recreational but to jack london the trip around the world had one thing, personal achievement, big moments of living. that is a little sample of the book. i would like to show you some footage of jack london at his ranch. this is one of the eight
segments of the archive for motion picture footage that i have made arrangements to include in the e-book version of my book "jack london: a writer's fight for a better america". not everyone likes bound books. some people like to read on tablets. ipads, kindles, i have been able to arrange for eight of these segments with our tech person if you want numbered seven of eight, jack london on his ranch and here we go. this is actually jack london on the vote ranch, photographer out there at the cottage, there is jack helping his wife, she is going writing, okay, she rides
off, have a good time. this is their cottage again. we are going to see in a moment, jack driving at a wagon. here he a wagon. here he is, here he comes. his health is failing, he will die of mercury poisoning in his kidneys in 1916 from dosages of medicine, there it is. we are going on. his doctor had said it will shorten your life, behind in stone you see what was called the pig palace for feeding and
this is not as smoothly running as if it is in the e-book. there he is grooming his horse. he faces the camera, he comes up somewhat close, he is laughing, back to the cottage, we will get back to him in just a moment with his trooper hat the his health is failing, it is toward the end of his life. is one of the little clip that i thought in an e-book, why not. they are there like a bonus. anyone who cares to have a book, one of these today, i have but stash of dvds, i will give you one.
you probably -- it tells you what page of the book everything is correlated to. i thank you and we should have some questions and we have to exit the building according to our employees from the cloud. are there any questions? [applause] does he get to make his trip? excellent question. does make the threat. here is the problem. between the time he ordered his boat and the time it was finished, the great san francisco earthquake of 1906, it created a terrible shortage of wood and other supplies, so the custom yachts, 45 feet long, is that had supposedly watertight compartments, everything just right, it leaked, the food was
ruined, all kinds of problems. jack london did make it to hawaii and for several months the boat was prepared. they sailed to the south seas island after island. the book that from that experience is called the cruise of the snark, is available in paperback, is a rollicking romp, in that cruise to the south seas by 1908, 18 months in, he and his wife and crew had to abandon the threat. they had all been so sick, he had slathered his arms and legs that had something -- a viral infection. the medicine, corrosive sublimate, had mercury. heavily laced with mercury. they didn't know, the store's got better but they knew they could not go on. they put the boat up for sale
and returned to the u.s.. and his doctor that in oakland said mr. linden, it shortens your life and it did. died at age 40, november 22nd, the same day john f. kennedy was shot. the 100th anniversary of his death. >> very close. please make your way to the service desk. does not include those names. thank you. >> you are welcome. is there another question? concern? something? yes, sir? [inaudible question]
>> was the friend with blacklisting? as a socialist, harrison gray, the publisher of the los angeles times said no one ever made so much money sympathizing with the port as jack london. and his wife noted phrases about the celebrated author jack london after he gave a lecture on socialism and the need for it, he would be called this man who calls himself london. stock up, his politics became too dicey for the capitalists running newspapers after all and for whom advertising lifeblood, and other capitalist enterprises, he was scorned and
critiqued the, blacklisted i am not sure, it is shocking to see, bounced around from one big magazine to another and would end up in a small socialist magazine like wilshire's as in will drive in california. innocence he was not officially blacklisted but by the powers that be when they felt he was too brassy and too popular. yes, sir. >> nice philosophy. >> he did. great story called the dream -- had to go into a socialist magazine. he was the member of the socialist party until late in life when he got frustrated as
we now all our with our political dysfunction and he felt the socialists were dithering and squabbling and not making the kind of head way they should be making and he resigned not because he was disaffected as a socialist but the organization was, just what i said, dysfunctional. he was allied, the organization to help college and university students understand the benefits of that political set of ideas. >> are we done? >> i think we are done. >> what he might think.
has the results -- >> yes. just this one last sort of philip. you would be tweeting, he would be out there, he would be writing fiction that urged rethinking of what has been done to deprive workers in america of their rights, he would be out in front. i was asked what he still write fiction? absolutely he would. let's remember, he would ally with, walter mosley, a very popular writer who taught us a lot about racism for the last 20
years, walter mosley, went undercover as a journalist and told us what it was like to be a server in a place like danny's or cracker barrel. what it was like to clean houses for people who would just walk over your body while you were on your knees scrubbing and also john grisham whose latest novel gray mountain expose as the coal industry's rate of the appalachian mountains and the choking of the streams the lens what this has done to people from kentucky through tennessee into ohio and so on. those are three, london would be
booktv has covered many of these candidates. you can watch the on our web site, booktv.org. >> joining us on booktv is doug casey. what you do for a living? >> guest: what do i do for a living? i wear a number of hats actually. venture capitalist, publisher and author, you have my last book in your hand, very pleased to see it and we will get to that in just a minute. >> guest: how did you get into the businesses you are in? >> guest: like many things it is a question of making a right turn at a corner instead of a left turn. so lot of things are accidental. when i was a kid the first thing i wanted to be was the paleontologists, all about