tv Mark Skousen on author Jack London CSPAN August 16, 2019 10:11pm-11:03pm EDT
story of amazing work of a journalist and his relationship with his journalist wife and his reentry into society after this terrible ordeal. this is my copy of prisoner and i hope everyone watching this will go by prisoner available on amazon of reputable bookstores around the country. >> we want to hear what you are reading, send us your list on facebook, twitter or instagram booktv. >> now a look at some of the programs you can watch every weekend on book tv on c-span2. coming up mark, founder and producer of freedom fast talks about the politics. then anna looks at how conspiracy theories take root in society. after that texas christian university professor provide the history of the women who volunteer to entertain american soldiers overseas during times of war.
>> let's start. we're delighted to have you here. the call of the wil wests what i call this project london, rugged individualist or socialist. turned out to be both. so jack london, the most popular writer of his time, even more popular than mark twain since mark twain was in the twain of his life there jack london was up-and-coming major figure. he sold a half million copies of books and really a phenomenal
character and he was an inability who spoke out about an accomplice. he was a socialist who despised the socialist. he was a racist who hated racism. so now you know who jack london is. a very complex character. we will have time to question and answer. but anyway like many of you perhaps have been fascinated with the novel stories of jack london and the prolific novelist of the american wild west. those probably know better collective writer then london, he lived as a minor, he lived and wrote as a minor, sailor,
writer, world traveler, agitator, one who had experienced life in the west in alaska in the south seas in europe, london, london and london. that would make a cool book. mexico, lived among the american indians. native americans. he was a born rebel and like mark twain and charles dickens before him became a media celebrity and he cultivated an outlaw image. in his novels and writings and was born out of wedlock in poverty in 1876, the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the united states. in the wild san francisco, he had been a teenage oyster pirate, a waterfront brawler, a gang leader, a work beast doing a variety of jobs, 15 hours a day. a hobo who spent 30 days in jail, sailor who travel to asia,
europe and the south seas. a prospector in the yukon, a protester in the socialist in oakland california and a war correspondent for the hearst people in japan and mexico. he eventually became america's obsessive workaholic writer which eventually paid off and he became the highest-paid writer in the country producing more than 50 books in his lifetime. he adopted a policy of writing 1000 words a day every day, good or bad, several of which have achieved the status of world classic before his death at age 40. he died in 1916 at his ranch in northern california. now of course -- i should mention, i want to thank several people that corresponded extensively in preparation for this especially mike wilson and
dan and earl. these are top experts in the field on jack london. in the corresponding will all of them via e-mail. there were a lot of false rumors about him, he is not a homosexual even though accused of writing homoerotic in the sea wolf. he himself wrote to a gay reporter. i love women. i kind of settled the matter. did he commit suicide when he died in 1960? rumors were fueled by a semi- autobiographical novel mark eaton, which spoiler alert talks of suicide in the auto biographical book. he was an alcoholic and often abused his body, he died too
young at age 40. he opposed, he was liberated, liberal individual but he opposed women's right to vote. because he knew that women would support coalition. and he did not like that at all. he said always lead to the saloon. the thousand roads of romance drew together in the saloon and then they hung over the world adding as a youth by the weight of the saloon i had escaped narrowness into the wild free world of man. he is often been compared to an early hemming raid, both brawling and drinking in the company of men from the lowlife. both rebelled against their domineering mothers, both
resisted higher education, both spending time riding the rails as hobos, both served as worker respondents, and haunted by the temptation of suicide and of course he did more than being tempted. so let's begin with a short discussion of his most famous novel the call of the wild publisher 1903. it is considered to be his masterpiece and the widely read of all of his publications if you go to any barnes & noble you will see copies as been translated into 47 languages and considered the great story ever written. no other popular writer in his time did any better writing then you will find in the call of the wild. it's a story of a dog that lives the life of the top dog in his estate in california and the siena valley. one day he was suddenly kidnapped. he has his freedom, top dog and then kidnapped and sold to dog
traders who was shipped north to work as a sled dog. in the gold mining district. this is all based on his own experience in the yukon. he is abused and beaten, bought and sold through a variety of careers but he survived in the doggy dog world. what does this? in the last half of the novel he meets up with john thorton who is a master who treated him with kindness and love. his love for thorton becomes challenged by his growing desire for the wild. he begins to disappear in the forest for longer period of time but returned to thorton and one day he returned to find his crew killed by american indians, angry behind comprehension he attacks and kills native americans and ventures into the forest and becomes the leader of the wolfpack.
despite being fully wild he still returned to the place each year to mourn the loss of his best friend. >> so interpretation, one, the call to the wild is pretrade as a symbol of social darwinism as the dog eat dog world of capitalism of nature red of tooth and claw and survival of the fittest who breed and survive, that is what life is all about. and number two others have interpreted his novels representative of the cruelty of capitalism. of exploitation and fraud. in many ways the call of the wild reminds me of the late 19 century era the industrial revolution that he lived under. the gilded age of johnny rockefeller, and j.p. morgan. what is become known as the robber barons, in his youth he personally experienced a life of exploitation, abuse and survival on a bare minimum wage which he
calls it a work beast. he red marks and spencer, however, we see in john thorton and example of enlightened capitalism. a master where the boss is benevolent and treats his labors fairly indecently. but there is a third interpretation. i think my wife for the suggestion. but the novel is an attack on the evils of slavery. after all what does buck represent if not enslaved by the dog traders? just as african-americans were enslaved by the slave traders who took them to an unknown la land, he was beaten and abused in the plot of the novel is how the enslaved dog breaks away from his masters and becomes free again. running with the wolves. kind of a cool interpretation. so we are going to talk later
about some of the novels or films and i'll have mark elliott come forward after my presentation and will talk about the films. so jack london, was he a radical socialist? he after pretrade as a harcourt socialist who advocated the overthrow of the capitalist system. he would be in iran socialist in other words on the opposite of political spectrum. he experiences on brutal exploitation can 12 - 13 hours a day at minimum wage as a teenager and young adult and constantly you encounter these stories where he has promised a wage increase and then denied
and there is a lot of shenanigans going on in the wild world of business in the california area. he witnessed mass unemployment during the 1893 -- in 1893 depression. he wrote a newspaper article in 1903, how i became a socialist and went on lecture tours across the country in favor of socialism. his daughter was about marxist. jack london creates heroes who seem to do no wrong because he recognized the extensive social ills associated with distro station, or blazing, the oppression of workers and corruption of politics. he saw that an ideal brotherhood of man did not arise out of the decay of self-seeking
capitalism. appallingly capitalism set forth the monstrous offshoot or doppler. this crushes labor movement and subjects workers to more difficult circumstances and economic insecurity in order to give more power and privilege to the wealthy who rule with an iron heel and one of his novels and iron he appeared he is very influenced marks. this was far from ideal for individual freedoms or self-respect and fair-minded justice. so you can understand his appeal towards socialism. now in the seawolf, which is the second most popular book that he ever wrote and actually it is been made in the film eight times. mainly because the female character that is introduced in
the seawolf, but wolf larson, the main character is a rugged individualist who creates his own rules of expectation. in the story, there is a brief debate between him and the protagonist writer over the issue of all tourism. this is a classic debate in iran's novel. larson is supposed to alters him and caring about others. he does not give a damn about others. he did not believe in sacrificing for others. it would be immoral for me too perform any act that was a sacrifice for another. who does that sound like? the seawolf sold a half a million copies in hardback and outrageous high number of books even today and been turned into a film eight times. so, the best version of the seawolf and my opinion is edward
g robinson and he develops himself as a character and an evil person and he can do that in several movies. much better than charles bronson, he could never cut it in my opinion. candor confesses, i've never read a book whose pages i've turned any faster than i have the pages of the seawall. now, me personally, martin eden, that is the novel that i turned pages fast. not the seawolf. anyway that's how he felt. combined a love story and novel all in one book. wolf larson has a promotable intellect, a man of strength and beauty and at the same time a powerful man physically and at times could be brutal beating his men and swearing them with obscenities and cursing the caffeine and on occasion they tried to kill him in return.
and they say he was ultimately the wild creature, supreme and savagery and beauty. so it reminds me of some of my friends, it reminds me of bill mayer on tv on hbo. we fell into discussion, philosophy, science, evolution, religion but he wonders why didn't he amount to anything? why with all your wonderful strengths have you not one something. did you lack ambition? could have been somebody, could have been a contender, instead i'm a bum. [laughter] he was selfish and calloused and a man of despair and black moods in the nonbeliever with no sympathy toward his men who he abuse. no conscience, no morals but his cabin was full of books.
he could cite shakespeare and darwin, very much a darwinian. he was in individualist and have you ever met a plumber like he had a phd and could talk philosophy to you. i meet these people every once in a while and say how did this happen? critics say that the book falls apart when a woman shows up ms. brewster hurried chapter 18 halfway through the book. i think this is fascinating without the woman entering and creating this struggle, the book would have never achieved its success. you have to have the woman in it. so i totally disagree with all the critics on this book. so the seawolf is one you can read over and over again it's a
book of adventure and fascinating in this creature, individual that you wonder about, how could a person be so mean and yet so arrogant and so intellectual and knowledgeable. fascinating person. and then we come to martin eden. who many even though this is not anywhere successful as his other books, you can still get in the bookstore i found an barnes and noble. marmartin eaton 1909 considered autobiographical and many think it is his best book. because he changes, he starts off as a young unsophisticated sailor who educates himself and becomes a world-famous writer in the opening lines about the rough sailor encounter of civilized society in san francisco, for me was absolutely
captivating. so, this is powerful reading, the one open the door with the latchkey and went and followed by a young fella who removed his cap. he wore rough close and smacked him to see. and he was manifestly out of place in the spacious hall in which he found himself. he did not know what to do with his cap . . .
>> if you have ever been on the ship that rocks and rolls for the next couple of hours you are rocking and rolling like this even though you are on flat land. this is powerful reading then we have a fascination as a yearning leaps into the eyes of a starving man and then affectionately handling the books with fragment of the text crushing the volume then
to see the phantom inside of her with spiritual blue eyes in the golden hair and did not know how she was dressed except it was as wonderful as she likening her but sublimated beauty was not of this earth. this is great stuff. this captivated me from beginning to end. so martin eden was with the individualist those that become highly successful as a writer when in fact meant it added as a criticism of the
bourgeois society because eden is an uneducated sailor who becomes educated and then become successful and then he commit suicide because he is disillusioned with western bourgeois society. so you go from a novel for me that is just absolutely riveting i could read over and over again but i will never get to the end of that novel. because he commit suicide. so to try to figure out why he commits suicide i should get into that but it is dark for quite don't want to get into
darkness like that if you want to read how people feel when they do that sort of thing. so can you imagine reading a novel that is so upbeat and optimistic here is a guy living the american dream to become successful in every possible way and he commit suicide? what is wrong with this person cracks it's very interesting of course he was an atheist although god did him a lot of favors in life but you only know if you live beyond that. so he never know that he ceased to know.
that's how the novel ends. the better motive from his perspective you could make the case for a darwinian materialist because life is purposeless except for perpetuation. and then in the dog eat dog world i could see somebody committing suicide for the one - - for that but not because you are successful as a writer. >> but it is futility.
and to denigrate capitalism and self-improvement and ambition all the virtues of the american dream. and so then he commit suicide. and then to be criticized by capitalist that eden is very popular in europe and in the popular television series london insisted that was an attack on individual philosophers one - - philosophy. and then lives only for himself works for himself and then dies for himself.
and with love and fame and materialism and nothing to live for. and with that christian alternative which is to live for others never does any charitable work. it was a time for him to find happiness but he was too self-centered. as a peer individualist and what that leads to. it leads to futility. and that he railed against the excesses of the industrial age but he actually just wanted to change it he didn't want to destroy it.
as a journalist in mexico to express the great war with jack london and american life not that london supported interventionism about the endorsement of the capitalist spirit and what we view is thus a version so he said some words that sounded revolutionary but with that national asian - - nationalization never gave money to the socialist causes and as an advocate of improved labor relations collective bargaining, rights for workers decrease power and with those struggles and to write a very telling article what socialism is in the san francisco
examiner were rejected marxist revolutionary communism in politics in fact to revise the famous marxist that this was the biggest discovery i've made in my months of reading. someone a book what socialism is, he revises a famous dictum. each according to his needs. that is a recipe for disaster everybody works hard but then that is a marginal tax rate and that's why the system collapses. and then you don't get to keep it so there is no incentive. so here's how he changes it.
each to his deeds and set of needs. that's in the story of what socialism is. but fondness of the short stories to write hundreds of them 1000 words a day that i have no unfinished stories. i sign it and send it out. if it isn't that i sign it and send it out. so those earlier novels to build a fire that most of the stories had a bad ending. the story of a man who falls into freezing water and fails
to light a fire but he does survive like wild saying the opposite of buck in the call of the wild. if only they had enough money to buy steak but didn't have the money. and with that pessimism of the twenties century one - - 20th century writers with hemingway elliott fitzgerald all of them. so the last is moon phase. of course not. but you're about to hear it now. i send this to people during christmas time.
>> a moon faced man that kind of cheekbones wide apart melting into the cheeks into the ground equal distant flattened against the very center of the face like a dough ball on the ceiling. that's why i hated him. that is an offense to my eyes. and to be superstitious of the moon but be that as it may i hated john klaber house. not that he had done anything or an ill turn.
and with that clear analysis of words. with some. in their lives. with that very instant before and at that very moment of meeting i do not like that man. y-letter? we do not know why. we only know we do not. so i will john klaber house such a man to be happy but yet he was an optimist and gleeful and laughing. curse him. how it grated my soul he should be so happy. other man could laugh and they did not bother me i used to laugh myself and tell i met
john. but that is nothing else could madden me to grab hold of me and would not let me go there is a huge gargantuan laugh it was always with me against my heart string at break of day came across the fields under the noonday glare through the depth of the forest to rise up to the sky to challenge the sun and from the lonely crossroads returning to his own place to roused me from my sleep to make me clench my
nails into my palms. going into the night time and in the morning here his laugh it is nothing they should not stray into those pastures but a dog named mars part dear found in part bloodhound but they were always together. to lure the animal away and with strychnine. his laugh was as hardy as ever in his face much like the full moon. and then fire on his haystack the next sunday he went cheerfully said where you going as he went by the
crossroads? and with a full moon. but the look on his face of trout was there ever such an impossible man? is whole harvest had gone up in his face but yet in the face of famine and winter he would go out looking for trout because he doted on them no matter how lively on his proud one - - his brow to grow less likely once upon his face i could have forgiven his existence but only grew more cheerful under misfortune. i insulted him. so he goes on like that.
this could come in as i went over the hill i could hear the laughter reverberating against the sky it when i resolve to kill john klaber house i should not look back i hated bungling and brutality to have something repugnant to straight with the naked fist so that name do not appeal to me that only compelled to do that in such a manner that no slightest suspicion to this
end of it after a week of profound incubation i hatched a scheme i bought a water spaniel five months old to devote my entire attention to her training if anyone spied upon me they would have remarked this consisted entirely of retrievin retrieving. i taught her to fetch the sticks i threw into the water but without mouthing or playing with them the point was just deliver the stick it all haste. i made a practice of running away and leaving her to chase me with a stick in her mouth until she caught me. she was bright and took to the game with such eagerness. after that i presented her to john klaber house i knew what
i was about i was aware of all little weakness of his in a private sitting of where he was guilty no. you don't mean it the mouth open wide and he grinned. and said i thought you didn't like me. wasn't right for me to make such a mistake holding sides of laughter. he said what a funny name. i gritted my teeth because he put me on edge and i snapped she was the wife of mars. than the light of the full moon began to suffuse his face until he exploded. that was my other dog i guess she is a widow now. and i turned around over the hill. on saturday evening is said to
him you go away on mondays he nodded and grinned and you won't have another chance to get those trout but he did not notice the sneer. i don't know i'm going up tomorrow and then to be sure to go back to my house early next morning i saw him go by with the gunnysack with the dog at his heels i knew where he was found to climb through the underbrush to the top of the mountain keep being careful out of sight in the long for a couple of miles to the amphitheater where the river raced down in the rock bound pool i sat down and i could see it all and i lit my
pipe then john came coming up the stream and the dog was ambling about him her shorts snapping barks with his deep notes arrive at the pool and put in the dip net andrew from his hip pocket what look like a candle to look like a stick of dynamite that was his method of catching trout he would dynamite them. he passed the fuse into a piece of cotton then ignited the fuse then toss the explosive into the pool. like a flash the dog was in the pool after it i could only shriek he yelled at her but without avail he pelted her but she swam until she got the stick in her mouth and then
she headed for sure for the first time he realized the danger and started to run as foreseen implanted by him she took after him. i can tell you it was great in the amphitheater above and below the stream to be on stepping stones around and around up and down i could never have believed such a man could run so fast but he did now gaining and then just as she caught up she leaped then there was a sudden flash in a burst of smoke and where man and dog were before not to be seen but a big hole in the ground. death from accident while
engaged in illegal fishing was the verdict of the coroner's jury. and that is why i pride myself on a neat and the artistic way i finished off john no brutality or bumbling nothing of which to be ashamed of with the whole transaction as i'm sure you will agree. no more does his infernal laugh go echoing among the hills or it move goes up my days are peaceful now and then my night sleep is deep. moon face. when i said this to my friends at christmas time they say
that's a part that i did not recognize. so what is moon face all about? envy. judging others. obsession. lack of self worth. i don't know if that applies to him he thought he was a very clever individual. this is about prejudice he is talking about prejudice without reason you don't like someone because of the color of their skin or who they look like there is nothing wrong with the name john klaber
house that is not a name that sounds very bad you can come up with mitch one - - much better names it isn't offensive at all. moon face person? what is wrong with that? there was no rational reason for his prejudice but yet he took it to the extreme of killing this person. i think it is an important short story even though he takes it to the extreme it symbolizes a lot of people's prejudices in life of race and religion and gender it is a very modern story you don't see this short story very often in the anthologies for
his book 1000 words a day turning into all of the short stories to make money he was a work beast all of his life. so now where near the end we have five minutes for questions. or we should spend some time talking about a couple of films in particular wh call of the wild being made into a film to in particular with the one with clark gable 1935 and the other with charlton heston. [applause] >> the thing about jack london i'm not sure how may people
still read him especially young people who are more into jk rowling and jack london because he represents another century of a rugged individualist free from mastercard and american express and all the trappings we associate i hope to take away but among the classic of hemingway. >>. >> he is still in all the bookstores hollywood eats content and the reason why the h century which was the last
that it acquired fox and became 20th century fox was call of the wild but they didn't buy it because the book was so great in jack london was so famous at the time and also for clark gable never work opposite dogs are children so the film is 10 percent of the book if that. >> it has a love story forget about the dog and that's what people want to see. there was the era like rin tin tin and lassie but we don't associate jack london with the
dogs. i associate him with clark gable and the remake of the film that i spent some time watching with charleston heston version which is truer to the novel. but he didn't like it he didn't realize what he wanted to get on scream one - - on-screen when he was a child living in the north woods of michigan there wasn't a lot of kids and the only way he could entertain himself was reading books he picked up call of the wild as a boy and fell in love. he wanted to make this movie but nobody wanted to go near it nobody would touch a film
about a dog and heston was not clark gable that made it a tougher sell so eventually he produced himself so when the inmates run the asylum you have problems. so when he takes control of his own movie you have those problems. when you see it back on the screen, i shouldn't have done that is why it is collaborative you need other people to help you with that part of the process. >> i read the books and high school it was a steppingstone to ayn rand.
but the real superman was humphrey because he started as the softy going to dominate larson which is also my favorite so the final words are very poetic and also inspiring. so in the end everybody has that moment but my question is when did you immerse yourself in london before or after ayn rand? >> before. and those opening lines and stuff like that but i met people instinctively i don't like that person. and probably all of us have but you have to learn how to overcome those present - - prejudices he is a classic and
will withstand the test of time especially with the wild west theme and maybe to become a writer. >> and then have the same ending. thank you very much i appreciate it. >> when my son was eight he read white fang and he teared up telling the story which was very inspiring to hear that. what prompted hemingway to follow the same? do you think he read that? >> it is a good question and it is possible. thank you very much. on to the next session. [inaudible conversations]
>> because they don't have the background knowledge to understand those reading passages is not that they can't make the inference they make inferences all the times so that's not the problem so much as the vocabulary to understand that passage and that is a big problem that has been overlooked. >> the book i'm reading right