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tv   Life and Legacy of Jack London  CSPAN  November 27, 2016 11:00am-1:01pm EST

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on facebook at c-span history. c-span, where history unfolded daily. 1970 nine, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and is proud to you today by your cablers had let provider. -- or satellite provider. next on american history tv, the life, legacy of jack london. in this two-hour program, we'll see selection of london's photojournalism and learn how the author of "the call of the wild" has influenced generations of novelists and writers. the bill lane center for the american west and stanford university libraries co-host this event. [applause] >> thank you, bruce. hello.
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my name is mark lavigne and i'm an affiliated scholar with the billing center for the american west. our program today is called "jack london, apostle of the american west." and it is being co-sponsored by stanford's bill lane center for the american west and the stanford university libraries. as bruce was describing, the bill lane center is dedicated to advancing scholarship and public public education on the past, present and future of western north america. so this is a very appropriate program for them, and the stanford university libraries offers access to a comprehensive range of scholarly resources both print and digital format in support of research and instruction here at stanford. today we inaugurate a new lane
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center initiative called arts west. it is designed to place a spotlight on the rich contributions of the arts and humilities in the american west. arts west offers the stanford community innovative public programming, on the writers, artists and cultural leaders that make the west a fertile ground for global creativity and artistic vision. it offers two distinctive series , the great writers of the west focuses on our western literary heritage and the great artists of the west elevates the western visual arts. we begin today with the celebrated western author jack london whose legacy encurious 100 years since his death in 1916 at the tender age of 40. we have gathered our stellar cast of jack london experts and
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scholars to share with us insights into the man's unique biography, the history of his era and his relationship and influence on western fiction. london also had a deep connection to stanford. even though he briefly attended u.c. berkeley. [laughter] he lectured often at stanford about literature, socialism and social justice and involved with the stanford graduate student. who remain lifelong friends and colleagues. and the stanford university press publishes letters and complete works just to name a few examples. our program today will consist of four presenters, followed by audience participation. our speakers today -- we begin
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with sue hudson and gene reisman. sue is with the huntington library. and gene is the university of texas at san antonio. and both of them will be giving us a presentation today on jack london's photojournalism. >> and peter will be talking about the era that jack london lived and the gilded age of california. and lastly, donna campbell from washington state university. donna will be talking about jack london, his relationship to western literature and other writers of the era and she says she's going to talk a little about the bohemian grove in jack london's involvement there at
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carmel and other places. so that should be quite interesting. there will be a reception immediately afterwards held in the red lounge, which is the room behind us and out on the patio area. make sure during the reception to tour in the red lounge, a special pop-up exhibit of jack london memorabilia which was loaned to the university today courtesy of sayera and darius anderson of sonoma. the program is being filmed by c-span for national broadcast and the webcast will appear on the bill lane center website in early october and the website address is west.stanford.edu. lastly, i thank my excellent teammate who is help me organize today's wonderful event. our gifted graduate student,
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curated the exhibit. we also thank the stanford university libraries and the canter center for the arts for supporting this effort. i please ask you to turn off all mobile devices and cell phones. i now turn the formal program over to my esteemed colleague and friend, bruce kaine and stanford professor of humilitys and sciences will who will be moderating today's symposium. >> thank you, marc. we will stick to the order that's in the program. we're on time, which is a good sign. and i think the one minor change is gene is going to go first and then sue. ok.
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>> good afternoon. and i mean afternoon. it's wonderful to see you all here. there we are. at the turn of the century, jack london's radical's new perspectives on america's filled magazines and newspapers around the world, his addition were demanded by countries numbering up to 100 languages. achieving lasting global acclaim was "the call of the wild" in 1903. london's brief, but remarkably productive career took him to many faraway places in the world and allowed him contact with diverse cultures. some on the brink of disappearance and others undergoing dramatic change.
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london sailed aboard a pacific ceiling vessel, joined an army of homeless men, traversed the klondike, documented the poor of london, covered the japanese war in 1904 and the u.s. invasion in 1914 as a war correspondent. he toured top universities on social speaking engagements, urging the children of harvard and yale to throw off their chains. he covered the san francisco earthquake and the jack johnson to world heavyweight bouts. he he sthailed pacific from 1907 to 1909 where he observed the helpers of molokai. slave trading and other results
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of white colonialism. and in his spare times, undertook ranching in northern california once snubbed by the critical establishment during the cold war, too popular, too socialist, too west coast, too unorthodox. london's writings have come under new study by scholars, not only for their literary artistry but also for what they teach us about dynamic, cultural and historical issues of the era with the burst of new additions and scholarships in the last 40 years, there has been a renaissance, a critical interest in london's writings, especially on class injustice, race, gender, immigration and u.s. imperialism. though nearly any bookstore in the world offers any selection of his titles, up until now, the absence of london's photographs was a glaring and somewhat ironic omission. once viewed around the world on
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the front pages, his photos up until recently had only been seen by a very few scholars who had access to them at the huntington library. london himself was one of the most photographed of modern celebrities but it is not widely known that he was one of the leading photojournalists of his day. during certain international news events, a staple of front page news. as biographical note, one of his lovers and collaborators was a stanford graduate and fellow socialist. the artistic merit of london's photographs makes him an accomplish -- for any photographer but they are of considerable biographical interest. readers of london will find them full of insights into the author and his works. london has long been described as one of the most visual to
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and he photographed people upon whom he modeled characters. his subject matter, the british court, japanese soldiers, korean refugees and tent cities in the aftermath of earthquakes, troops, sailing crew rounding the horn, field workers in hawaii, and the disappearing societies of the south islands he visited make his photos a great central the historian. london's word pictures describe new worlds, bringing into focus for the american public new places and people. they were not used to seeing and knew virtually nothing about. in the south seas, london's photos displayed scenes of health, disease, tropical medicine and race. but his versions of tropical islanders challenged the views of accepted views of the tropical other.
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i want to pause just for a moment so that you note how -- let's see. how his camera is held down like that. you look down into a crystal. and this will be important later when we discuss the perspective from which he photographed the people he did. now the next two slides are not, i repeat, not london's photographs. these are postcards collected by charm yan and in the typical way that south seas people were portrayed, women generally had their shirts off and were engaged in some sort of service activity. there was also a rage for looking at profiles of heads issues of measuring skulls, things like that. and also collecting images of tropical diseases such as elephantitis in this postcard. 50 years earlier in brazil, london did not use the accepted
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scientific views of natives. where his post his brazilians in rigid forms dictated by the british society, london used his new portable kodak a-4 camera. there you see it. one of the first roll of film cameras eliminating the need for sand cameras and glass plate which is normally would have not worked in the tropics. he used his camera to give us close-ups of old men's face, children begging in the streets, lelpers celebrating the fourth of july, rodeo and parade, young samoan mother and their children, and the women's market in the solomon islands, the sneering lips of white slave traders. before the snark trip, london's view of indigenous people and their cultures would have been tainted by racialist views he learned in his student days from leading scholars from berkeley and stanford. after the voyage, his ideas developed to resemble more than agassy's.
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as we well know, the turn of the century was a type of racial issues such as race and immigration. london's sense of the potential for human drama comes through in his photos, especially those which focus on the human face. bodies at work, children and the elderly, the ill and the disenfranchised. he rarely diminished his subjects. their dignity and self-hood predominate. most have captioned with names and other personal information. the natives are not types in his work nor aliens. in his frames in the many expressive face he is captured from people all over, struggling as they confronted ofty, homelessness, suppression, war, natural disaster, cultural and ethnic conflict, invasion,
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colization, racism, slavery, disease, etc. london documented issues of lasting, global significance. people as history he was there with his notepad and camera at a time and in places most people had rarely seen anyone that different. there to witness so much the most breaking news international developments of the turn of the century. these photos with a treasure trove of images that almost no one living had seen until today. but have much to tell us about the people who lived them, lived then at home and abroad, pictured by one of the time's most intrepid cultural adventurers. i will turn it over to sue hudson. [applause] >> we're going to play a little tag team. so jean will be back.
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on this slide projector, you can see jack london as he was dressed to be in the east end, the poverty zone in the city of london and that was in 1902. london was engaged by the american press association to travel to england and then to south africa to report on the aftermath of the war. he got as far as new york before the association called him back. they said cancel that. there's no more story to tell. so come home. well in london's character fashion, he said nuts to that. he wasn't going to turn and go home. he went on to england. he had always wanted to spend time living in the poorest areas of a major world city like new york or london. and he had read jacob reese in his classic studies of poverty. london wanted to see for himself. he always wanted to see everything for himself to understand exactly what was going on and the situation.
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so he spent seven weeks living in the east end of london. the first thing he did is going to a pawn shop to buy a set of used sailor's clothing and that's you see jack on the right. to his right, to our left, is a man that we on know as burt. and burt went with london for much of those seven weeks. and about his change in clothing and status, london wrote this. no sooner was i out on the streets that i was impressed by the difference in status affected by my clothes. all civility vanished with whom i came in contact. presto in the twinkle of an eye, so to say i had become one of them. my elbows jacket was the badge and advertisement of my class which was their class. it made me a like kind and in places of fawning and too respectful affection, i share with them a comradeship. the man in corduroy and dirty necker chef no longer address me as sir or governor.
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it was mate now. and a fine and hearty word with a tingle to it and with a warmth and gladness which the other term does not possess. so london ventured out on of the streets of london and began experiencing and witnessing all of the rigors and the deprecation and the degradations of life of the poor and the homeless. he wrote back home in california i've read his misery and seen of it but this beats anything i could even have imagined. actually, i have seen things and looked the second time in order to convince myself that it was really so. this, i know. the stuff i'm turning out that is his writing, will have to be ex per investigated or it will never see magazine publication. i am in the thick of the east end.
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you will read so much my feeble efforts to depict someday. well his feeble efforts were far from feeble. he wrote in rather short order a non-fiction study of poverty in at least end of london called "the people of the abyss." and years later after he written most of his 50 books in just 40 years of life, he commented that that was the book that meant the most to him and took the most out of him as a young man. and one can see why. to read it is to experience the life that the people experienced on a daily level. one of the aspects of the poor that london particularly felt was the sad and tragic is the plight of the children. and you'll see it recurring theme of childhood and child likeness throughout all of the pictures that we show you today. london loved children and he loved promise.
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the innocence of children. so in the east end of london, he looked at the energy, the innocence, the high spirits of the children and knew that in a life of hardship and poverty, those qualitys and the purity of the children would never last. that all too soon, they would be degradeed by life of deprivation and want. this grieved him deeply and there was nothing he could do but he wished that zphote political culture would change to allow those children to grow up, to have a future. at another part of the "people of the abyss," he wrote this. on the benches on either side was a raid amassed with miserable and distorted humanity. the sight of which would have impeled doer to a more diabolical flights of fancy than he ever achieved. it was a welter of sexrags filth of all manner of loathsome skin diseases, open sores, bruises,
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grossness, indecency, leering monstrositys and beastle faces. -- bestial faces. a chill raw wind was blowing and these creatures huddled there in their ration, sleeping for the most part or trying to sleep. here were a dozen women, huddled there in their rags, sleeping for the most part or trying to sleep. it was this sleeping that puzzled me. why were nine out of 10 of them asleep or trying to sleep? but it was not till afterwards that i learned it is the law of the powers that be that the homeless shall not sleep by night. this is a view of the line of homeless men waiting outside the salvation army shelter for a
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dinner and a place to sleep overnight. london experienced this as well. he stood in line. you had to get there as early in the day as you could and ill might be on a day when you had nothing to eat all day. but you went and stood in line. and you might have to wait for four, five, six hours to get a place in the salvation army or other shelter. and if you were lucky enough to get in you would get dinner and a bed but before dinner even, you had to listen to an hour long sermon. and london makes no bones about it in his book. he was appalled by that that people who were weak from lack of sleep and lack of food were made to sit on a hard bench through a long sermon before they could get any food. he was very critical of all of the charitable groups including the salvation army. so it was with some enjoyment, actually, that i found in our collection of jack london's papers years later. i found a receipt for a check he had written, donating to the sal vation army.
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i'm pleased that he got past their disapproval of their action at that time. london was a great admirer of oscar wilde, especially a pamphlet that he wrote called "the soul of man under socialism." even though i can hardly feature two different figures as oscar wilde and jack london, they agreed completely on socialism and its hopes and dreams. in his essay, wildest writes the poor are grateful for charity. the best among the poor are never grateful. they run grateful, discontend, disobedient and rebellious. they are quite right to be so. charity they feel to be a ridiculously inadequate mode of partial restitution or a sentimental dole. usually accompanied by some attempt on the part of the sentimentalist to tyrannize over they're private lives. london shared this view completely.
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in one of his notebooks that we have at the huntington library, he wrote a note that's healthy headed "the rebels." he write the joy is meaningless. they are entities this which cockney girl who slanged or spoke in slang, the criminal who is shamelessly applied their trades. while i was really puffed by -- puzzled by that word entity, i read it again and thought it's entities. so i checked it out in the oxford english dictionary and i found one of the meanings of the word entity is a person who is a real person to reckon with. someone who is secure in his or her own being and comfortable with him or herself and able to meet the world open faced, full forward. and so london was admiring the poor who stood up for themselves, who didn't bow their heads and deferential treatment
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of the people who had the money. and so he admired the people who stood up for themselves and he always did. for london, the city like london, and other large cities, london, new york, the city was a source of poverty and a polluted place that starved both the soul and the body. he looked to the soil, to the rural life, as a place that would restore physical health and psychological well-being. when he found the land he wanted in 1905 in the sonoma valley he wrote to his editor to describe "130 acres of the most beautiful primitive land to be found anywhere in california." like so many immigrants before him who had traveled over land or around the horn to reach the land of golden dreams, london recognized
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the special meaning and opportunity of california. his dream was to create a ranch that would operate according to modern ecological principles. he believed that his ranch would be a socialist model that would benefit people and he determined to establish a part of the ranch as respite where labor worn workers from oakland and other cities could come for helpful rest and recovery from the city bred evil of their lives. in 1911, he decided to launch a three-month journey north from sonoma. driving a four-horse wagon so he and his wife could could see the wonders of the land. the four horses trip as it became known from june 12 to september 5 and covering 1,500 miles took them to oregon and back. he declared "i have written the call of the wild which so much my friends referred to as my bestseller. but the thing nearest my heart is the call of the north. the natural god-made paradise which equals the paradise
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inhabited by adam." the theme is healing by a return of the soil is one that occupied london for the fine years of his life in such stories as "all gold canyon." in this 1913 novel, we see the protagonist replicate jack and charmin's four-horse trip as they journeyed through the countryside flying the lives of in search of their own valley of the moon where they may find health and peace in the beauty of the land. here's a quote from the point of the novel where they come upon the valley of their dreams. "across sheer ridges of the mountains separated by deep green canyons and broaderening into rolling vineyards, they caught their first sight of sonoma valley and the white mountains that rimmed its eastern side. all the sky was blushing to rose which descend upon the
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mountains, fetching them with wine and ruby. sonoma valley began to fill with a purple flood, the mountain rising, inundating drowning them in purple. the fires retracted from the sky, bathed the canyon with crimson. in which wine-wood burned and smoldered. the air was aromatic with laurel. wild grapevines bridged the streams from tree to tree. oaks of many sorts were failed -- veiled in lacey spanish moss. ferns and breaks were lush beside the stream from somewhere, came the plank of the morning dove." well in great contrast to the piece in the serenity of the landscape and going back to nature in a sense came april 18, 1906.
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and i think we all know what happened that morning. the great san francisco earthquake struck. and here we see a page from charm ya's diary and she headed that notation in red letters, "earthquake." jack and charm yan were living at the lodge and they were awakenened by the quake. they got on horseback to ride all over their land and see what the damage was. then they hopped a train to santa rosa and observed and photographed the damage. the they hopped a train coming down to san francisco and did the same thing. they spent 24 hours walking all through san francisco and even got out in a little conservative out on the bay to look back on the city that had undergone such devastating ruins. london had said he didn't know if he couldn't write about that. it was so devastating and so overwhelming an experience and such ruins loss to people but he did write about it and he called it the story of an eyewitness. and his was the first eyewitness account of the earthquake and
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fire to be published about the san francisco tragedy. it was published about two weeks after the event in colliers magazine. here is a section of the essay in which you'll hear very short telegraphic sentences that really gives you in the immediacy of being there on site. "not in his history has city been so completely destroyed. san francisco is gone. nothing remains of it but memories of a fringe of dwelling houses on its outskirts. it's industrial section is wiped out. its business section is wiped out. it's social and residential section is wiped out. the newspaper buildings, the hotels, palaces, all gone. remains only the fringe of dwelling houses on the out outskirts of what was once san
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francisco." this is a shot of city hall and some of the devastation. here we see the west side of city hall ruling, looking north on larkin street from city hall. city hall again. and a long view from california and mason streets. this is the crocker mansion on nob hill. kearny street, looking north from sutter street, through telegraph hill. the san francisco stock exchange. so, even money couldn't survive. [laughter]
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ms. hodson: here we see a view from mission street to the ruin of the smokestack of the san francisco gas and electric company, the station a. this is part of one of the tent cities that spring up, mostly on the outskirts of the city, but throughout. this was on market street missed -- market street between battery and front. st. francis of assisi church on montgomery avenue. the barbary coast. and here we see dupont street. mission dolores. another market street refugee tent city. also in his essay, jack wrote this -- within an hour after the earthquake shock, the smoke of
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san francisco's burning was a lurid tower that swayed in the sky, reddening the sun, darkening the day, and filling the land with smoke. i am going to turn it back to jeanne now. [applause] ms. reesman: that, by the way, is the steps of the santa rosa city hall. well, we turn now to japan and korea in 1904. the japanese war of 1904 is not so remembered today, but it is of great significance at the time. it was the first time in asian nation had beaten a european
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one. the czar and the emperor of japan competed for control of eastern asia and its seaports. the world did not think japan was capable of fighting the russians, but they suck the entire russian fleet at port are in one day in a surprise attack. london was sent by hearst syndicate to cover the news. he was frustrated at japanese censorship, while attached to their troops. he kept getting arrested and sent back to seoul with the other correspondence. exactly not want the high cost of their own men to be publicized. he saw only one battle, but because he could not photograph action, he turned to people behind the lines that had been affected by the war -- beggars, ordinary villagers, village leaders, japanese soldiers with injured feet.
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he made more photographs here than a most anywhere else. arrested twice in the process, teddy roosevelt was the one to get him out of court-martial in japan. you will notice here that london is shown with a japanese officer as though he is our man in the orient, discussing the war. that did not happen. you will notice the anaachronyms him of a camera with a cloth. that is not what he used. he made -- let's see. he was portraying the people who were victimized, but the piece -- newspaper wanted jack london on the front of the paper, as though he were, somehow, america's representative. that is on the passenger ship on the way to yokohama, were unfortunately, jack fell off part of the deck and broke both his ankles, which was to trouble
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him for the rest of his life. this is called -- harbor. man-making pipes in so -- met a -- a man making pipes in seoul. this one he called manchurian barber. you will continue to notice his gifted eye for composition, especially with linear convergences. "dykes and ditches were broken down, feels turn into mock and scored with great groups by the wagon with us. everywhere, the patient toil of peasant people was stamped into the earth and destroyed. always, one received an impression of strength." this is a little village. "arrived at this forlorn village. people scared to death.
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already had japanese soldiers can we put the finishing touch to their fright. they swear they have no room for us, no fuel, food for our horses. we force our way into the stables, captures 25 pounds of barley hidden in a man's trousers. this is but one of the days." this is the red cross wagon about which he writes an entire dispatch. you can see what is happening, creating this quagmire. this when he called "chow." "following the report was the ripping of a vast sheet of cloth.
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two miles away, across the river and to the right of tiger hill, there was a bright splash, a puff of smoke, and a dust cloud arose where the flying stressful tore the earth. again, the russians were assailed from three cents. the day was lost, they knew it. yet, they fought on doggedly. night was falling. as the japanese drew closer, the russians turned loose their horses, destroyed their guns, encounteredet bayonet, threw white handkerchiefs from the pockets in token of surrender." this is the japanese army entering what they called pyongyang today in north korea. "next day, we found the road as far as the eye can see across the valley, from past to pass, coming and going and double lines.
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there were squads of cavalry, and attachments of infantry. officers mounted, and officers of foot. parties of the red cross outfit. bunches of pioneers drifting along and repairing the road. none of the telegraph court work on the military wires. bullies, bullet cards, packed bullets -- trains of little, and ponies squealing horses. all down through it alone, chinese from manchuria, looking neither through the right or the left, but heading southward with curious eyes in a land where peace still smiled. as i write this, 1000 soldiers are passing through our village. men are busy drawing rations for themselves, horses, and for the army." these are his fellow correspondents watching that battle. exhausted japanese soldiers.
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this man was the former russian ambassador to seoul, and that little horse was named -- jack ended up owning it after the ambassador was escorted out of the country -- he named her bel le and that was the first horse he learned to ride. this is one of my favorite pictures because -- not getting my pointer. at any rate, you can see the father is looking directly at jack's, the child looking down. "the troops streamed by. the horses fight, an interpreter squabbling four feet away from me. the frost is in the air.
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i must close my doors, light my candles. a korean family of refugees, household goods on their back just went by." now, he made two portrait series in korea which shows artistic intent. in other words, he was not snapping snapshots. "for days we had four star our horses along a road which swarmed -- there shoulders were stooped forward, their faces bent toward the ground, their food and sake. villages were deserted. doors and windows went missing. houses appeared blank and sightless. protesting against the general devastation. here and there along the road, old men and women, and children, sold food. the first series is of children, and there are numerous photographs of the orphan children of seoul.
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the small girl has a smaller the small girl has a smaller sister on her back. this boy is probably about four years old, working street to street for something to eat. the second series of portraits involved old men, and some of them are village leaders. some of them are ordinary citizens, but the way he catches the faces shows his intent on portraiture. london's focus was on the human cost of war -- not really narrating battles. correspondents could photograph sunken ships, etc., but london wants to see people's faces. children, old people, and even the sufferings of a japanese enlisted man caught his camera. now we move to the south seas and the crews of the snark from
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1907 to 1909. it seems odd that a man newly remarried, having bought an extensive range in sonoma valley, embarked on a writing career, would spend a small fortune to have a sailboat built and try to sell it around the world with his wife and a small, amateur crew. that is what london did, claiming he learned navigation aboard the first week. i tried that with my students. didn't get past page two. against all odds, including near bankruptcy before the sailing, the collapse of every necessary system and structure aboard, the total ignorance of the hired captain, his wife's uncle, when it came to navigation, a supposedly impossible southeast traversed of 61 days -- no sailor would have done that. they got caught in the doldrums and almost ran out of water. they did run out of water.
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a rain squall save their lives. the snark had been smashed in an accident in the harbor before they left. she would not come about, if you are a sailor. she would not heave to, or stop. i can talk more about that during questions and answers. his reason for sailing, he says "i like -- here is the seas, the wind, the waves. here is the seas, the wind, the waves of all the world. here is ferocious environment. and here is difficult adjustment, the achievement of which is delighted to the small quivering vanity, which is i. it is my own particular form of vanity, that is all. his sense of adventure to flex his california coastal self, as the golden gate was the opening
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to the gold of the orient and all of the south seas. in the same fashion as headed west implied going to california, london's west expanded to what used to be called much of the pacific rim. today, oceana. "i leave it to you," he says "who ever heard of a sailing but that would not heave to. in my brief experience, i know i never did. i stood and looked at the naked face of the inconceivable and monstrous. a stormy night, a splash of wet in the air. there was a promise of rainfall, the trough of the sea -- if you are in a trough horizontal to the waves, you capsize. the snark complacently rolled. we took in the sea anchor,
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hoisted the sale, and rang the snark off. not to the hot meal that should have awaited us, but to scale across the cabin floor. laye cook and cabin boy like dead men. and to lay down in our bunks, with our clothing on, ready for a call, and to listen to the water knee high on the galley floor. here they are in mali. here they are in their lava lava's. london's powerful curiosity that other communities and individuals around the globe took him west to the marquesas. to the dangerous archipelago, the society islands, samoa, fiji solomon, gilbert islands in australia. along the way, he photographed men, women, and children, in a variety of settings, and those are controlled their lives,
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missionaries, traders, government officials. heroismasis was on the of ordinary islanders. a wonderful portrait of an old hawaiian man working in the field. portuguese children working in the pineapple fields, really anticipates dorothea lange in the wsa photographers. his friends in honolulu, when he was lionized by all of the wealthy, or white people that belong more have been in hawaii for a long time -- they made a mistake. the editor of the honolulu advertiser and other dignitaries took london to the western side of the island, where the plantations were. there, he discovered the mix of
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nationalities whose slavery fueled the the island economy. i would say, like sharecropping, really. they were indentured on contracts, and found it very difficult to get out of them. the hawaiian, chinese, japanese, filipino, and portuguese plantation workers. he was slung out of favor when he wrote and photograph these people and the leper settlement on molokai. from a scientific point of view, and a sympathetic point of view. they were there for the fourth of july rodeo. onto the marquesas island, and here is the famous phonograph that when aboard the snark. 500 records. in tahiti, they met a man named ernest allen called nature men. he was an early proportionate of vegetarianism, socialism, and eventually runoff by the french, who got tired of his red loincloth and his red flag.
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you can see the tenderness of some of these photographs. the samoan prince and a samoan princess. this man was called bob, and we can talk about him a little bit later. he is the model for the story. this photograph caused great consternation at mcmillan. can you guess why? it is not the naked savage. it is the fact that a white woman is in the same frame as a naked savage. we can talk about that in a bit. this was another photograph that mcmillan wished to excise from the book. this young man is martin johnson, in all his glory -- an 18-year-old boy who managed to join the snark crew, and later became an adventure with his wife. this was an hashish party.
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the gentleman there on my left is george, one of the owners of the plantation -- sorry. on the right, far right, is tom harding, the other owner of the solomon islands foundation. they dried coconut meat to make soap for procter & gamble. george and his wife were eaten in 1914. this is one of my very favorite pictures, and i will just say a few words and turn things back over to sue. this family is in the gilbert islands. they are cannibals. london somehow gets them, and one thing you'll notice about them -- they have on all their finest jewelry and decorations, but what they all have is a cigarette, or a pipe. tobacco is money. they are showing you a new rolex, a new porsche. london gets it.
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if you look at it, you have to understand he was flat on the ground to get that shot. he often shoots up to enoble them. they were saved by the local missionary. these are all in the solomon islands. and there is jack saying goodbye with his camera. thank you. [applause] ms. hodson: i just want to utter a half dozen words to sum up the entire show of photography. jack london's literary idol was the novelist joseph conrad kent conrad wrote "my task is before all to make you see. that, and no more, and it is
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everything that if i succeed, you should find there, according to your desserts, charm, all you demand, and perhaps, also, that glimpse of truth for which you have forgot and to ask." thank you. [applause] >> ok. next up is peter blodgett. mr. blodgett: thank you, bruce, and i am happy i managed to navigate past my cospeaker donna campbell without having landed on her or over her. it is crowded quarters, but i trust that by the end of the
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program, you will agree that having the four of us up here was worth it. let me offer particular thanks to mark for their marvelous management of today's festivities. in doing so, that me also say that, really, i'm sure we didn't really need quite so warm a welcome, but i do appreciate it nonetheless. my part in the festivities, of course, is to speak about jack london's west, or the west in which jack london found himself. i am the outlier here. i am an historian. and i bow to the knowledge of my colleagues about london, and i am going to safely avoid most reference to him in the course of my remarks today. although, as a proper historian, i do share my profession's belief in the significance of contingency in history. i am also fully aware of the
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dangers of relying upon coincidence as the framework for any argument. nonetheless, in undertaking my portion of this appraisal of jack london's life and career, there are some irresistible coincidences at the moment of jack london's arrival and departure, to which i must refer in framing my remarks here today. let me begin, therefore, by teasing out certain historical adjacencies to jack london's birth on january 10 of the year 1876. it was, of course, as any of us who are not completely numerically challenged will realize, the year of the american centennial, including the great exposition in philadelphia of that year. it is the year that alexander graham bell had his success in
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communicating with his mr. watson through his pioneering efforts with the telephone. it is the year of the -- and this is -- i hope not forecasting what this year may bring us, but it is the year of the hayes-tilden presidential contest -- one of the most bitterly disputed in american history, that ended up hanging upon the disputed electoral ballots of south carolina, louisiana, and, wait for it -- florida. [laughter] mr. blodgett: it is the year of the publication in britain and the united states of the adventures of tom sawyer, and, of course, as i am sure our distinguished panelists will elaborate on, it is intriguing to see how those two grand
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meteors of 19th-century american letters would intertwine themselves over time. most intriguingly, at least to me as an historian of the west, it is also the year in which george armstrong custer, on june 25 of that year, two and then less than two months later, wild bill hancock transferred into american mythology, entering the great pantheon of americans who are winners by virtue of being losers. certainly true of custer, and to a degree, i think one could say that of hickok as well, although i never have, and hope not to at any time in the near future had the pleasure of aces and eights,
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the fabled dead man's hand that hickok had drawn before jack mccall put an end to his career as a gambler, and turned him into a hero. so, i am here to look at the west in the 40 years that london was present with us. of course, that has to begin with the west of the gilded age, as several people have already mentioned. derived, as we all know from mark twain's and charles dudley warner 1983 novel, "a gilded age, a tale of today," this span of the last quarter of the 19th century has established itself as the irresistible metaphor, not only for the cynical
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malfeasance and uninterrupted corruption of those years, but as the characteristic description of the epitome of such behavior -- of the academy of such behavior in any other time and place, as we see today any number of people resurrecting it for our own time. but what is the west in that era? well, it is the region that spans the continent from the mississippi river to the pacific slope. it is one in which the extraction of wealth from often obdurate realms of land and sea is often the essential aspect of the american west. it is extracted industries that are essential -- such things as mining, livestock-raising, and agriculture, more generally. those are the key things for the entire region. there is, of course, a handful of cities.
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the one just a little distance from here, the one whose name should never pass the lips of any angeleno -- san francisco, folks. it is ok. and which the center of american society in the west was already taking place, but really, outside of a handful of urbanized locations, was an era in which the pursuit of opportunity was one in which involved extracting wealth from some aspect of the landscape. it is also an era characterized by that aggressive pursuit of opportunity by millions, while at the same time, a great many others were denied access at all to the opportunity for wealth --
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denied the opportunity for liberty, and in some instances, denied the opportunity, even for life itself. if you look at the effects of indigenous people of the west, you look at the treatment of mexican-americans, chinese, japanese, or other immigrants of color, it is certainly an era of staggering economic gyrations, including the panics of 1873 and 1893 that would have significant impacts upon the west for years at a time. it is an era of oligarchy. that is pretty clear. not merely in the center of the country, or the eastern states -- you know, the rockefellers,
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the guggenheims, and other economic figures of great wealth, whose fortunes are even now taking shape, but in particular, figures here in the far reaches of the country, hollis huntington, mark hopkins, leland stanford, and charles crocker, of course -- the celebrated, or infamous big four of american railroad history. it is, at the same time, however, the moment at which there are cultures of dissent and opposition that are already beginning to appear. and as much as the extractive industries would characterize the west, the response that so many would suffer would become absolutely crucial for defining this landscape as well.
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it is also important to remember though that it wasn't merely the age of the gilded, but also the era of progressivism. for the dissent, the opposition that was beginning to coalesce at the end of the 19th century was certainly taking shape as part of a series of significant movements, beginning, of course, with populism, and really, coalescing in particular with the progressives of the very early part of the 20th century. many of them, actually based here in california. the urbanization of the region played no small part of that, because, of course, so many of those who supported progressivism were of the middling classes -- people of
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sufficient means to pursue their opportunities, while not so economically well-heeled as to be leaders of the oligarchs of the west. it was also a time in which, especially in california, but elsewhere as well, americans began to become increasingly unquiet about what the results of the impacts of these great oligarchs of resource development would be, leading to the kinds of pursuit of resource preservation that would characterize much of the 20th century. it is an era of accelerating technological advance in nearly every field of extractive industry. that would be a development that would have enormous importance upon the great pool of unskilled
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laborers who made up the west's working classes, and it was also an era that would begin to stress, along with, or in concert with theodore roosevelt, the tribune of the progressive era, the importance of immersing oneself in the outdoors, which roosevelt in his characteristic fashion described as the strenuous life -- the life of toil and effort, of labor that ensures that the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil will win the splendid ultimate triumph. our theodore. it is certainly an era in which both prosperity and poverty, to steal a line from the social reformer henry george, characterize the landscape of
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the west. it was, however, in the imagination of americans, an era powered by the unrelenting flood tide of tales of adventure and fortune that emanated from the hazily understood landscapes of the west, as early as 1849 here in california -- the mythological west of unlimited opportunity and heroic episodes that rapidly took shape after the civil war and came to dominate every medium of popular entertainment it would encounter. this is, of course, the west of the imagination that takes up the wild west show's and later the great popular writers -- great only in the sense of their success in selling their wares, worcester and the
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first western film, such as "the great train robbery," in which americans were absolutely inundated with the renderings of popular culture. it is worth noting, for example, that between two of those moments, the appearance of the virginian, 1902, and "the great train robbery," 1903, came "call of the wild." i would argue that much of what could be characterized as western fiction, western popular entertainment, does not necessarily lead us directly into jack london, and that is all i am going to say on that topic because you have someone much more skilled to lead you into the notion of london and western literature. i would just say that it is important to remember that the
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west, as conceived by these writers, was really a landscape that could be seen as opening, conquering, and settling the trans-mississippi west, and the literature that described those events was really abstracted from those experiences there -- their distinctive virtues that were thought by many americans to have been inculcated in the race, as they would have called it at that time, as the nation passed through the era from the beginning of the fur trade through that of the conclusion of the indian wars. by contrast, i think it likely that the opportunities that jack london received from the reliance, for example, in the
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west upon extractive industries, certainly gave him a variety of settings, to explore his fascination with man's place in nature, his struggle with nature's pitiless forces, and the opportunities found to enhance human self-awareness, but dime novels we are not talking about here. so, jack london shuffles off this mortal coil in late november, 1916. as a year, that saw, among many other possibilities, the incorporation of the boy scouts in the united states through an act of congress and the establishment of the national parks service -- two wonderful examples of americans' commitment to immersing themselves in the outdoors. it saw the release of "intolerance," the epic film, a great example in the kind of
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interest in cinema that london, of course, himself exemplified in his later years. and sadly, it also saw blue shiver versus union pacific railroad company, which upheld the revenue act of 1913, which established the income tax as having -- as it was accepted by the 16th amendment to the constitution. it was, on a more serious note, also, london's death that is, merely three weeks after woodrow wilson was reelected president, winning the crucial votes of california -- the electoral vote by merely 3800 votes in the popular election. though wilson was the candidate
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that kept us out of war, much of that year could hardly be described as pacific, except, perhaps, in your view of the ocean. the mexican revolution spilled over into the united states with poncho villa's attack upon columbus, new mexico, and subsequent unitive expedition. the attempt to overthrow british rule over the long-suffering island of ireland, the abandonment of british efforts empire oute ottoman of the first world war. somme verdun and the the agonizing continuation of a slaughter of a generation continued on the squalid battlefields of france. these are moments in the
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historical landscape which i think are important and worth considering for they offer us a framework of how america would be unfolding in the coming generation. it can at least be said, however, that that american historical landscape was richer for the -- at least for the presence of london's interpretations of it -- the writings that he left for his audience at the time and for those of generations to come upon the passage of his life on november 22, 1916. thank you. [applause] bruce: ok, jonah.
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jonah: ok. i promise you 22 minutes of a vast sweep. i can only hit a few things in there. sorry. the california writer jack london encouraged readers to see his work as an extension of his life, in which action, adventure, and writing seem to be mixed in equal proportions. europe is at the center of his own my, where he rose from working-class poverty and long days as a child labor, to become an oyster pilot, a sailor on a seal hunting ship, a prospector during the klondike gold rush of 1897, a socialist, work correspondent and a , rancher. like mark twain, london embraced
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his status as a celebrity author and became internationally famous for his adventure and writing. he worked steadily as a writer for nearly 20 years before his early death at age 40. he turned out 1000 words a day before he had published over 50 books in a variety of genres -- 19 collections of short stories, 5 volumes of essays and travel sketches, two memoirs, three plays, not to mention the journalistic pieces that funded his travel to the south seas, korea and mexico. , by december 31, 1914, the mac alone hadn company stolen more than one million copies of his books, and he was now the highest paid off in -- author in america. the north land tales, including "to build a fire," and "call of the wild, those made him famous. his short stories, including those written late in life, such as "the red one," are now considered to be his most psychologically complex works.
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above all he was, as the title this symposium has it, an apostle of the american west, a tireless chronicler and son of california. from his promotion of an dish -- of innovative and sustainable farming. i want to give a view of his literary life and contributions to american fiction, including a few of the influences on his fiction, the literary climate of the u.s., when his work was first published, his mentoring of and relationships with his contemporaries, his influences on other writers, and his contributions to american fiction. jack london was not in a first wave of western writers, the california bohemian such as bret harte, mark twain. london was mentored by one of their number, the poet, ina
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coolbri, who was the first to encourage this thirsty, hungry little kid, and encourage him. ofcited darwin's origin species as especially influential, and also mapped out an ambitious reading program that includes milton's "paradise lost," one of two volumes he took to klondike with them, as well as robert browning, edgar allen paul -- oh, frank norris, edith wharton, and yes, roger kipling. "i had never written the way i did had kipling never been in early reviews of his story, but london was no mere imitator. he initially had difficult time getting his work published. among the problems was the literary climate of the times. the literary climate at the beginning of london's career was
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divided between the well-established literary east, centered first in boston and new york, and the roughneck west. i london's day, influenced by darwin and the emerging science began topology, many worry about the emerging west becoming too soft and over civilized. a culture of mollycoddle's, instead of red bloods, as roosevelt put it. hadad become overcome -- he overcome a sickly childhood. as roosevelt showed in his own book, such as the winning of the west, the time was right for literature to follow suit. when london began his career, however, florid historical romances such as when knighthood was in flower, and the genteel
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realism of the previous generation still held sway, as london shows in his novel "martin eden." the high priest of realism never reviewed jack london, but london did not hesitate to caricature him as a ponderous bromide and that favorite of english professors that london caused little, microscopic-minded parents -- parrots. [laughter] ms. campbell: the later novels of henry james frustrated london because of the focus on interior consciousness with very little action. a story that sinclair lewis told about london suggests the difference between the two. jack picked up james' "wings of the dove," and read aloud in a bewildered way while henry james's sliding, glittering verbiage unwound itself on and on.
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jack banged the book down and wailed, "do any of you know what this junk is about." his dominance was slipping away with the new century, for newer, popular magazines, the call went out for good, easy reading for the people -- no thrills, find finishes, but action -- action, always action. london could provide the action, as could a host of other writers, but london could add a deeper significance to the tales of action based on his scientific theories aligned with literary nationalism. -- naturalism. in contrast to realist writers who chronicled ever increasing civilized behavior, london wrote up a world in which heredity and environment ruled human behavior and the primal impulses of human beings were barely concealed. this determinism was shared by his contemporary, stephen crane, theodore dreiser, and fellow californian novelist frank noris. beginning with his tales of the
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klondike, london became celebrated for his depictions of primitive nature, and animals and human beings. he showed the brute within, in commemoration of primitive traits recalled from prehistoric ancestors that spring to the floor when an individual confronted eminent -- imminent death. balanced with the teachings of civilization, his characters were forced to invent new codes of morality that balanced optical pencils of comradeship and fair play with the realities of their desperate situations, a situation he explored in "the call of the wild." reviewer's took note when london jumped onto the literary scene in described as red-blooded, it 1903. seemed to introduce a breath of fresh air. the story of the dog that reverts to his wolfish nature is the "heart laid bare in a
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forceful, thrilling way, and a book untouched by its bookishness," as "the atlantic," put it. it introduced the call of the wild into the american lexicon, as you can see by its rise in popularity after 1903. with the bold stroke of "the call of the wild," and later work, london set the course for changing the new century of american literature in terms of his style, subject matter, and treatment. the style that featured bold -- blasted through the pros of genteel fiction much as his subject matter of human beings ignored by polite realism and the rest opened new rounds for writing about real life. in addition, jack london 's naturalistic treatment was accompanied by a complex new approach to genres that had been confined to leisure reading or juvenile fiction.
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having made his mark, this is the most of carmel we are probably going to get. he was eager to share what he had learned, not only with those that encouraged him -- san francisco bohemians known by the crowd -- but with aspiring writers who sought his counsel. note mary austin's braids. those will come back into play. among those who benefited from his advice were western women writers. london said be careful not to prune away all the strength. the world will always buy strength, admonishing her surprisingly enough to look at the strength of jane austen. writer francis marion credited monday, a friend of her father's to write about real things.
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, "if you expect to write stories pulsing with real life, you must go forth and live." she got a job in a caring factory, mistakenly hit another worker with a peach, and was promptly fired. yet she persisted. she later worked as a screenwriter for mgm, winning an academy award for her screen play of the prison picture "the big house." the daughter and author of the california novel "diverging roads" was inspired by london. she wrote the first murphy of him for sunset magazine. when charmian threatened a lawsuit, she lightly fictionalized the biography into a novel called "he was a man." mary austin -- london had a closer professional relationship . her novel about the water
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project -- as an old friend, often felt free to emulate to praise, but to task for his deficiencies, as in this unpublished letter. the truth is, jack, the one thing that keeps you from being the great writer of your generation is your incapacity to understand my kind of women -- you do not know anything more about us than a stallion knows about eagles, to use your kind of figure. [laughter] ms. campbell: so, this apparently amused jack and his wife charmian, for written on the back of the envelope are two comments in their handwriting -- "she seems egotistic, so much so she almost thinks she can't live without her." the good-natured give-and-take characterizes some of his more stimulating correspondence. upton sinclair had personal and professional ties to jack london, for he had recruited london to be celebrity president of the intercollegiate socialist society in 1905.
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sinclair was also associated with a progressive era group of authors, who like london, roof -- wrote for a magazine and exposed corruption. it was called "muckrakers" -- called muckrakers by theater roosevelt, because he said they were like john bunyan's man with a muckrake. they wore the label with pride. the muckraking masterpiece "the jungle," led to the pure food and drug act. sinclair lewis, also a member of the carmel crowd, and later the author of main street babbitt and "it can't happen here," when the nobel prize in 1930, but when london nuven, he was young, eager, and broke, leading london to buy a dozen or so of his story plots for five dollars a piece. his style was more satirical.
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london's influence was particularly strong, if not always acknowledged in a couple of midcentury writers. john steinbeck and ernest hemingway. unlike hemingway, steinbeck laid claim to london as a literary precursor. "steinbeck entertained visions of sailing to the far east like his fellow californian, jack london, and his novels are naturalistic." but stronger parallels exist. i want to commit to talk about those. in steinbeck sympathetic portrayal of the dispossessed in "the grapes of wrath," as london had done with "the people of the abyss," steinbeck is a documentary approach to weave together the stories of those driven from the land by competition of the great depression entered interlocking set of economic pressures that held accountable to no greater good than making a profit in combining three of london's
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persistent themes, social justice, "grapes of wrath" updates "valley to the moon," which we have heard about, but it reaches a different conclusion. like the london characters who claim land of their own after leaving oakland, they search for california. unlike billy, who is helped in the quest to learn about farming at every step of the way, the joad family is driven from place to place and cheated of their wages while the system demands that farmers dump oranges and milk to keep the price up even as children go hungry. although in the green hills of africa, ernest hemingway claimed kinship only with henry james, stephen crane, and mark twain, whose adventures of huckleberry finn he called the best novel we have had. his work owes the most obvious debt to jack london in terms of style and subject matter. his ostensible subject matter -- man and nature and war, boxing, fishing, hunting, the consciousness of animals, travel, adventure, and being on
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the road, and his actual subject matter, "grace under pressure," the relationship between men and women and and alienation that his characters feel that can never express all align with london. so does the famous hemingway style with his visceral, rugged prose consisting of the grist birds, lean description, and understated emotions. it is a style of london's work. though many contemporary writers 08 at to london, i will mention just three. the first is jack kerouac. although his best-known is a half-century old, he was inspired by his book on riding the rails. he wrote about his expenses in "on the road," and london is the only author he mentioned by name in the novel.
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although london saw his ais -- as nonfiction, books about traveling to the underside of america revealed the social constraints of its promise of freedom. the second author is any group. who numbered jack london among her influences. in addition to the spare, pitiless wyoming landscapes of her own west things stories and hapless accidents, which echoed the bleakness and unforgiving nature of the north land, proulx tells social justice issues that drive some of london's best stories, as she explains storytelling trumps social issues but i do not write to inspire social change, but i do like situations of massive economic or cultural change as a background, adding fiction can bring about change.
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as jean campbell reason reminds us, the most exactly 50 years separates "on the road," and mccarthy "the road," showing naturalistic philosophy. spare style and themes of violence. in an interview mccarthy explains there is no such thing as a life without bloodshed. the idea that one can live in harmony is a dangerous idea. your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous, which sounds a could come from london's mouth. so in conclusion of four london writers is multifaceted. first and most of obvious is his insistence of writing about subjects people wanted to read about in a style that could actually read -- a clear that makes london scene perennially modern. a second facet of his legacy lies in his attempt to
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comprehend beings very different from himself -- from other animals to other cultures, and to portray the innate sense of justice, personal dignity, from which all since you beings -- sentients yearn. the same sense of personal honor that animates "the virginian," and countless successes. third, london brought vivid storytelling to california, and also introducing people to the lepers of molokai, or the wretchedly poor people of the abyss to his readers on issues of common humanity as a means of rectifying justice. finally what links london with other writers in particular is restlessness. the desire to take to the road and seek adventure in the west. it finds later expression in jack roulac and cormac mccarthy -- jack kerouac and cormac
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mccarthy. it is in london's life where the pole of his beauty ranch at glenallen cannot cure his urge to travel, the pioneer dream of finding a home in the west always competes with the individual's desire to escape from an oppressive society. that london and his successors thought was the perpetual tension between the road and the farm that animates their best work and through the writing managed to find a place where they can exist as both. thank you. [applause] thank you very much. it has cooled off a little bit. we have time for a question and answer and we are going to throw it out to the audience. i will throw out the first question and give you time to think. -- i amng going to ask only going to ask one question. we teach a course on the american west. one of the themes that the other instructors developed is how the west was kind of a creature of the 19th century optimism about technology.
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what strikes me in the first presentation is there must have been a real lesson there about the limits of technology. we are talking about how underneath the romanticism of the west there was poverty, there were things that he saw that suggested that optimism and civilization wasn't as well-placed as some people believed. i wonder what was the reflection on the 1906 earthquake? didn't make him think more about how fragile civilization was on top of this? i found a contradiction between his heroic lifestyle that you associate with optimism and yet that doesn't seem to be where he concluded. first 1906, and the second if you ended on the contradiction of the man. >> the earthquake deeply affected london.
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it showed the fragility of man's inventions. he certainly believed in those dimensions. he used them to make his life more enjoyable and easier. but he thought there was a fragility there. he did not think we should depend unduly upon them. he always looked back to the natural land, to his ranch and the beautiful scenery in california and elsewhere. to center himself and defined and reliefrelease from the rigors and the depredations of the cities. and the way the city could wear down your spirit and your soul. for him the natural landscape was always restorative. >> i am thinking about your question. i kind of wanted to talk about what seen in his very last fully published novel.
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i think it says a lot about the way he looked at technology. in the book the rancher based on london had all of these technological marvels. likens his acreage clockwork. and he has a new invention. you chain to a poll in the middle of a field and it plows itself. like a self driving car. what he never addresses is it all winds up. you have the tractor stuck in the middle of the field. you are stuck. there is a stuckness to it. we think about technology but we don't think it all the way through. a theme in that novel, we rely on it, but it can literally stop us. or if natural events stop us, then there we are.
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>> a bit more, he certainly had this contradiction of liking technology, but rerouting to the natural landscape. he used technology on that landscape. on his own ranch he raised prize-winning fakes. he built a stone edifice called the pig palace. and it was a wonder of technology. it had what i like to think of as porcelain condos. and a large silo in the middle of it. you could pull a lever and it would release food simultaneously. it was very easy. one person could feed all the pigs very quickly and easily. it would round up all the waste matter in the same fashion. it was able to adapt technology for what he saw as a useful and productive and noble purpose. >> new idea for undergraduate
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housing, i guess. [laughter] >> just a thought, that is all. i will send it out. yes. [inaudible] >> use the microphone. >> let's start again with the microphone. >> i wonder if one of the panelists could speak to the connection to jack london in the bohemian grove. i saw a cartoon in the beginning of the slideshow. >> i cannot really -- that was part of what got cut. he was a member of the bohemian club. he wrote plays for their annual hijinks. it was then an exclusive club as well. i should probably turn this over to jean who can talk more specifically about it. >> i would be happy to.
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the bohemian club is a gentlemen's club in downtown san francisco. up in the russian show river, of course, is the grove close to -- closed to women forever. [inaudible] >> do you? that's wonderful. that's a change. they had a summer called the hijinks. a number of artists would go up there and enjoy a week or so of running probably naked in the woods. a lot of drinking and partying. they put on a play every year, which they still do. no one is supposed to talk about the bohemian grove club. who is not a member. shant speak much.
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i do know from people who talked, two years ago people who observed clint eastwood and henry kissinger in drag in a play. it is a place where inhibitions were tossed. today it is more of a club for very wealthy evil. it started out as a bunch of artists up there. it occupied a lot of london's time in the summer. he enjoyed being with his friends. except for ambrose pierce. if you read between the beers and sterling in london, it is follow the offers to fight and curses and this and that. nemies ashey were fre we say now. there was a famous incident with a lot of alcohol behind it. fistdid get out into a
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five. both of them ended up past out on the edge of the river, the russian river. thank god someone pulled them out. it was a very important part of his life to be with his artist friends and to carry on. it's still very private and exclusive. you can drive by it, which i have done but i have never , stepped foot. -- what we are to do is we're going to go to one speaker. and the second one. so we are always lined up ahead. hands up. anybody else have a question? in my system is going to. we have two in the front. wait for the mic. always wait. >> this is but tv on c-span? >> this is your moment of thing.
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-- fame. .et's make it a brief moment works best when you put it next to your mouth. >> i got introduced to jack london because -- did you know that the setting for call of the wild was in santa clara at the ranch there. i was writing a book on historic architecture and somebody gave me a lift. i have been reading everything. what about the sickness? one of his biographers attributed that -- it had to do with nietzsche. 1905 right 1904 or when he was making all the money and so successful was the beginning of his strong depression. does anybody know anything more about that and where the term the big sickness came from? >> i would be happy to speak to
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that if i it was a long may. sickness, he called it. it was probably the result of a number of factors. his separation from his two daughters and his first wife caused a great deal of pain for everyone. he had fallen in love with a woman and was experiencing the the upheavals of leaving his family. he never left the girls but sometimes it was difficult to see them because the first wife did not want them to go to the ranch with charmaine there. i believe this was one of the most important factors. people need to remember he did not read nietzsche until 1906. that is after the seawall, which is often described, 1904, often
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described as the critique of the nietzschean superman. he probably read some nietzsche. in the end as you can see, he utterly rejected the nietzsche an individualist. this can be a problem. everyone reads it as a portrait of a strong individual as undone by celebrityhood. london believes it was a testament to socialism and were martin a socialist he would not have committed suicide. sorry, spoiler. he was also torn between city and country. he had never liked the country because as a child he lived on several unsuccessful farming ventures. the decision to leave his
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friends from san francisco and bill clinton the with charmaine eventually up into sonoma valley, i think that was probably difficult as well. it is important to remember, and i often have to remind my london did not stand for the solo macho adventurer. he believed in the trailmate, the comrade, those who set out alone, especially in the klondike tales often die. in the end london rejected both spencer and social darwinism as well as nietzsche. though a lot of readers are attracted to that lone wolf aspect. a good example of this is into the wild, which was made into a popular film in which this poor young man believes he
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understands london and has out -- heads out to the alaskan wilderness. if you know the story you know alexander supertramp, as he called himself, another spoiler, dies in the end. he carved all these things on this board about jack london, but he totally misinterpreted london. london is a socialist and he believes in brother and sister. -- brotherhood and sisterhood. >> i think we will go to the mic. >> what do you think sparked him to spend so much time on his agrarian interests? >> i can also speak a bit to that. it was charmaine. he had an aversion to country life. when he met her she was a
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vegetarian, she was a health nut. and i believe he saw the country as salvation. as several people have mentioned. and a healthful way of life, something that may have saved him from the pressures and temptations of urban life. it is an interesting fact that for all his devotion to that ranch it was love for that ranch. he kept building it and buying more and more property. if you look at the dates london was very rarely on the ranch. his travel took him around the world. it is a very interesting tension in his works between the work -- urban in the country. he thought of the ranch has a socialist experiment. he tried organic farming and was successful at that.
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he thought of the ranch as a sort of engine that would take in any stray. give them a job. he would send workers to college. he planned to build a school on the ranch. felt that it was a demonstration of his principles of social, something that would work for the good of society. >> i was just going to add, a book he talks about this in is burning daylight, it is one of his farm novels. the main character is a prospector. he makes a fortune. do some down and trading. the first half is kind of a business novel. he finds himself out of shape depressed, and so forth. there are these rapturous descriptions about the rise through the country and how the farm helps restore him.
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he wrote that experience and wrote it into several novels. that is the one where he describes the transformation as well as in any. add a bit about the broader context at this point. both in american letters and more broadly in american society, the desire to immerse oneself in the outdoors was approaching an apogee in the approaching an apogee in the early 20th century. you see people like john you're in california writing about how important it is and how wonderful it is for thousands of nerves shattered over urbanized americans to go out and immerse themselves in these landscapes where they could save their souls. and this kind of -- the expansive scope of this kind of
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what nature means in opposition to the city, while i wouldn't argue is necessarily the principal thing pushing london out the door in that regard, it is certainly incredibly common within the society and the time. and californians in particular, especially the middle class and above are looking at breaking -- bringing the outdoors in and taking the indoors out. andife in architecture outdoor recreation, these are things, again as several of my co-panelists have said, these are concepts very much in the air. it is important to keep that in mind as well. >> we follow the microphone. you have the mic, right? >> thanks.
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could i be heard? great. i have wanted to say i believe the plan considered the people and the place to be a more representative of his world theo -- worldview and feelings and my family feels very honored to -- he begins with a prescription of hasamily and their farm and a central character based on my family's dog. >> very good. we need to pass the mic. >> you talked about the external contradictions that jack london drew to our attention to contradictions between country life and city life. for example his use of the trope of the wolf. it seems like the wolf is a
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predator in many instances. there are no redeeming qualities in this major figure in his writing. yet he lived in wolf house. buck reverts to his wolf ancestry. was he conflicted in his use of this trope? >> yes. i think what makes a writer and an artist interesting are those complexities and contradictions. the most obvious one, strong and masculine heroes and socialism. this is something that just back and forth his whole life. as far as the wolf, one of the things london stresses so much in the call of the wild is the buck joining the pack. the wolf is not a solitary predator.
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they work in concert with each other. his nickname was wolf both to his friend george stirling and to some of his other friends and charmaine. they called each other mate. sort of referencing animals. london is a writer full of many contradictions. they are all productive and fascinating to the reader, to the scholar, and to the historian, i think. definitely a very complex man. hardly the person some readers thought of, the guy that just went out and had adventures and what sit down and write them down. most of jack london's time is spent reading. he claimed he could read six books a day. and i'm not going to say he couldn't. >> do we have time for one or
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two more? where is the mic? >> i have it. as it happens right now i'm reading a book called buffalo bill about the globalization of american culture. it made me think about jack london as a vector of this globalization. also just the extent of his celebrity. which was clearly more than national celebrity. i wonder if you can comment on that issue. >> jack london made headlines. no matter what he did or what he was rumored to be about to do. subscribed tone at least half a dozen clipping bureaus. arrivey days mail would clippings from newspapers around the world. at the huntington we have 30 scrapbooks. the scrapbooks are this thick. they are huge ledger volumes.
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every page is packed edge to edge with clippings. london cultivated celebrity. he needed to make money to support the ranch. he supported a large extended family. he embarked on all of these adventures that were enormously expensive. this was in 1907, so a ton of money. he lived big. he spent a lot of money. he made a lot of money. he knew that if his name was big , that would bring in more income and sell more books. he was a worldwide celebrity. when he he embarked on the cruise of the snark. to foreman of the work group build it was charmaine's uncle roscoe who had always said he would be the navigator on the cruise. jack says, roscoe, where we?
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roscoe says, i don't know. [laughter] >> the story is, and i think it is almost true. jack pulled out the guide to navigation, he spent an afternoon teaching himself how to navigate. and then he was the navigator from then on. they were a little bit overdue hitting honolulu, but they hit it. it was on the nail. in the meantime the press was reporting a famous author, lost at sea. overdue. present lost. great tragedy for mankind. but they were following. when he sent home is correspondence and dispatches from korea they didn't publish pictures of the war. they published pictures of jack london. he was that well-known.
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the celebrity was constantly there. he was immediately translated into foreign languages. to this day it is said he is the most read american author in the world. that says a lot. a lot of other cultures find things to admire about jack london. whether in russian it may be his socialist views or the fact he was a self educated man. in france among many views of london is views of political actions are very highly valued. he resonates. he can write person-to-person. you feel as though you know him. when i did an exhibit on him in the late 1980's, we put a 300 page volume of blank pages at the end of the show. we asked people to question, what does jack london mean to you? i was stunned. i hadn't expected more than 50%, filling those 300 pages, more
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than 50% of the people that address the remarks, "dear jack. i find that stunning. the more i read about him, i'm not surprised anymore. he reaches people in a very direct way. his readers follow him in that way. >> we have time for one more question. then that is it. they are going to close off the windows here. it is going to get hotter and hotter. let's make it a brief question and brief response. >> very brief, the socialist movement at that time was very infected by racial ideas, particularly white supremacy. and ferociously anti-chinese and anti-japanese. what was his relationship to that dynamic in the socialist movement and in his own writing? >> and easy question to and on. >> gene has written a whole book on this. so i will let her answer this.
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>> it is called jack london's racial lives. it is from the university of georgia press. i wanted to take on the elephant in the living room. what keeps many professors in particular sometimes away from london is their assumption that he was consistently rabid and racist. in my book i say jack london was a racist, but not a very good one. [laughter] >> his attitudes toward other cultures unfortunately from my writing and that book didn't go from being a racist to being completely free of such a thing, it goes up and down. i index it to his health half -- at the time. the financial pressures he was under. example, london covered the two jack johnson world heavyweight fights. unfortunately for people like ken burns, they read incomplete newspaper stories.
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i have worked at a newspaper. off many an ending to a story. the actual things he wrote about those fights are in a book called jack london reports, published in the 1970's. very hard to find. out-of-print. in both cases he starts out, "the white man is superior." in his dispatches in sydney in when 1908 he fought tommy burns and in reno in when he fought jim 1910 jeffrey, the great white hope, jack's appreciation of understanding of johnson does go from thinking well to the complete and total admiration. here is my hand, you are the better man. he compares jeffreys to a cornfield. johnson to mont blanc.
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an image. he also greeted jeffrey at the train station. jeffrey blew them off. london went over to jack johnson's camp. in both cases his prior attitudes, which were just public attitudes, become genuinely admiring of jack johnson. the two of them have a lot of common. they are both entertainers. johnson smiled and quoted crowd,eare to annoy the we screened kill him, kill him over and over. london's racial attitudes are really vital to his work. >> ok. i think we have to finish. ank thef all let's th panelists and the staff for all the work they did. [applause] >> and secondly i want to remind you we have a reception and the
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pop up exhibit behind you. you have the owner of the exhibit here to question as well. enjoy the reception and thanks for coming. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. >> on lectures and history, professor titus teaches a class on world war ii and its impact on civil rights. two talks about racial conflicts over housing, voting rights, and integrating workplaces in the military. for classes about one hour 15 minutes. prof. titus: hi, everybody, welcome. our topic for today is black

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