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tv   Life and Legacy of Jack London  CSPAN  November 24, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm EST

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♪ >> this concludes the dedication ceremonies for the national museum of african-american history and culture. please stay in your seats. our staff will notify you when it's time for your group to approach the museum and enter. thank you. >> you're watching american history tv on c-span3 every weekend. during congressional breaks and
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on holidays, too. follow us on twitter, like us on facebook. and find our programs and schedule on our website, c-span.org/history. >> next on american history tv, a panel of scholars discusses the life and legacy of novelist, journalist, photographer, and social activist jack london. in this two-hour program, we'll see a selection of his photo journalism and learn how the author of "the call of the wild" has influenced generations of western writers. the bill lane center for the american west and stanford university libraries co-hosted this event. >> thank you, bruce. hello, my name is marc levin, and i'm an affiliated scholar with the billing center for the american center. a program today is called jack
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london, apostil of the american west. and is being co-sponsors by bill lane center for american west and the stanford university libraries. as bruce was describing, the billings center is dedicated to advancing scholarship and 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 scallary resources, both print and digital formats, in support of research and instruction here at stanford. today, we inaugurate a new lane center initiative called arts west. it is designed to place a spotlight on the rich contributions of the arts and humanities in the american west.
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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 literally 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 endures 100 years since his death in 1916. at the tender age of 40. we have gathered a stellar cast of jack london experts and scholars to share with us insights into the man's unique biography, the history of his era, and his relationship and
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influence on western fiction. london also had a deep connection to stanford. even though he briefly attended uc berkeley. he lectured offer at stanford about literature, socialism, and social justice. was romantically and intellectually involved with a stanford graduate student, who remain remained lifelong friends and colleagues and the stanford university press, published his letters and complete works just to name a few examples. a program today will consist of four presenters followed by audience participation. our speakers today are the following, and their extended bios are in the program so i will not beer you with that information, but it's there. we begin with sue hodson and
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jeanne reesman. sue is with the huntington library, and jeanne is at the university of texas at san antonio, and both will be giving us a presentation today on jack london's photo journalism. then, following will be peter blodgett, a historian with the huntington library, and peter will talk about the era in which jack london lived and the gilded age in california. and lastly, we'll have 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 bit about the bohemian grove and jack london's involvement there. it should be quite interesting. there will be a reception immediately afterwards held in
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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 the special pop-up exhibit of jack london memorabilia, which was loaned to the university today courtesy of sara and darius anderson of sonoma. the program is being filmed by c-span for national broadcast, and the web cast will appear on the bill lane center website in early october. and the website address is west.stanford.edu. lastly, i thank my excellent teammates who helped me organize today's wonderful event. mrs. hetmeyer. lane center's associate director who helped keep me on target and perform every task for gracious talent, and our gifted graduate
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student curated the exhibit. we also thank the stanford university library 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 colleague and friend bruce cain, director of the lane center and stanford professor in humanities and sciences who will be moderating today's symposium. >> thank you very much, marc, and we will stick to the order that's in the program. we're actually on time, which is a good sign. and i think the one minor change is that jeanne is going to go first and then sue. okay. >> good afternoon. and i mean afternoon.
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it's wonderful to see you all here. there we are. at the turn of the century, jack london's radical new perspectives on america filled magazine and often newspapers around the world. his editions were demanded by countries numbered up to, we believe, 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 places in the world and allowed him contact with diverse cultures. some on the brink of disappearance and others undergoing dramatic change. london sailed aboard a specific steeling vessel, joined an army of homeless men on washington,
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documented the poor, covered the russo japanese war in 1904, and the u.s. invasion of vara cruz in 1914 as a war correspondent. he toured top universities on socialist speaking engagements, urging the children of harvard and yale to throw off their chains. he covered the san francisco earthquake and the jack johnson two world heavyweight bouts. he sailed the pacific on his 43-foot sailboat, the snark, from 1907 to 1909. where he observed among other things the lepers of malachi and the passing of melville's type e into disease and extinction. slave trading and other results of white colonialism. in his spare time, undertook scientific ranching in northern
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california. once snubbed by the critical establishment, especially during the cold war, too popular, too socialist, too west coast, too unorthodox, london's writers have come under new study by scholars not only for their literally artistry but also what they teach us about dynamic cultural and historical issues of the era. with a burst of new editions and scholarship in the last 40 years, there's been a renaissance of critical interest in london's writings, especially on class and justice, race, gender, immigration, and u.s. imperialism. thou nearly any book store in the world offers a selection of his titles, umuntil now, the absence of his photographs from bookshelves was a glaring and somewhat ironic omission. once views around the world on the front pages. his photos up until recently had only been seen by very few scholars who had access to them at the huntington library.
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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 international news events, a staple of front page news. as a biographical note, one of his closest collaborators and lovers was anna sternsky, a stanford graduate and fellow socialist. the artistic merit of london's photographs makes it accomplished for anyone photographer, but they're also of considerable biographical interest. leaders 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 of writers and he photographed people upon whom he modeled characters. his subject matter, the british poor, korean refugees, japanese soldiers, tent cities in the
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aftermath of the earthquake. pancho villa's troops, the sailing crew rounding the horn, field workers in hawaii, and the disappearing societies of the mar caseys and other southeast islands he visited. london's word pictures describe new worlds bringing into focus for the american public new places and peoples they were not used to seeing and knew virtually nothing about. in the south seas, london's photoes describe themes of health, disease, and race. but his versions of tropical islanders challenge views of -- the accepted views of the tropical other. 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 would be important later when we discuss the perspective from which he photographed the people he did.
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now, the next two slides are not -- i repeat -- are not london's photographs. these are post cards collected, 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 photograph. unlike louie agassis 50 years early in brazil, london did not use the accepted scientific views of natives. where he posed his brazilians in rigid forms, london used his new portable kodak a-4 camera.
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there you see it. the first -- one of the first roll film cameras, eliminating the need for stand cameras and glass plates, which would not have worked in the tropics. he used his camera to give us instead close-ups of old men's faces, children begging in the streets, lepers celebrated the fourth of july, rodeo, and parade. jung samoan mothers with their children. the women's market in the solomon islands. the sneering lips of white slave traders. before the snark trip, london's view of indigenous peoples and their cultures would have been tainted by racialest views he learned in his student days from leading scholars at berkeley and stanford. after the voyage, his ideas developed to resemble more frauns bows than agassis. as we well know, the turn of the century was a time of intense debate on race and related
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issues such as immigration, segregation, and eugenics. london's essentisense of the po 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 disenfranchised. he rarely diminished his subjectser their dignity and self-hood predominate. and most with captions of names and other personal information. the native natives are not types in his work, nor alien. in his frames especially in those many expressive faces he captures from people all over, struggling as they confronted poverty, homelessness, oppression, addiction, war, natural disaster, cultural and ethnic conflicts, invasion, colonization, racism, slavery, disease, et cetera. london documents issues of lasting local and global
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significance. people as history. he was there with his note pad and camera at a time and in places when most people had rarely seen anyone that different. there to witness some of the most defining breaking news, international developments of the turn of the century. these photos are 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 them, at home and abroad, pictured by one of the time's most intrepid cultural adventurers. and i'll turn it over to sue hodson. >> we're going to play a little tag team, so jeanne will be back. on the 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.
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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. in london's characteristic fashion, essentially 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 riis and his classic studies of poverty. london wanted to see for himself. he always wanted to see for himself to understand exactly what was going on and the situation. so he spent seven weeks living in the east end of london. the first thing he did is go to a pawnshop and buy a set of used sailor's clothing, and that you see jack on the right.
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to his right, to our left, is a man that we only known as bert. and bert palled around with london through the east end of the city of 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 than i was impressed by the difference in status affected by my clothes. all civility vanished from the demeanor of the common people with whom i came in contract. presto, within the twinkle of an eye, i had become one of them. my frayed and out at elbows jacket was the badge and advertisement of my class, which was their class. it made me of like kind, and in place of the fawning and too respectful attention i had too hithered to receive, i now shared with them a conradship. the man no longer addressed me as sir and governor. it was mate now. and a fine and hardy word with a tingle to it and a warmth and
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gladness, which the other term does not possess. so london ventured out onto the streets of the east end of the city of london and began experiencing and witnessing all of the rigors and the deprivations and degradations of life among the poor and the homeless. he wrote back home to his good friends george and carrie sterling in california. i have read of misery and seen a bit, 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 expruigated or it will never see magazine publication. i won't write to you about the east end and i'm in the thick of it. >> well, his efforts were far
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from feeble. he wrote in rather short order a nonfiction study of poverty in the east end of london called the people of the abyss. and years later, after he had 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 sad and tragic is the plate plight of the children. you'll see a recurring theme of childhood and child likeness throughout all of the pictures we show you today. london loved children, and he loved the promise, the innocence of children. so in the east end of london, he looked at the energy, the innocence, the high spirits of
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the children and knew that in a life of hardship and poverty, those qualities and the purity of the children would never last. that all too soon, they would be degraded by a life of deprivation and want. this grieved him deeply. and there was nothing he could do, but he wished that society and the 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. we would up the narrow gravelled walk on the benches on either side was arrayed a mass of miserable and distorted humanity, the sight of which would have propelled dory to more flights of fancy than he ever achieved. it was a welter of rags and filth, of all manners of skin diseases. open sores, bruises, grossness, indecency, leering monstrosities and beastial faces.
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a chill raw wind was blowing, and these creatured huddled there in their rags, 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 puzzles me. why were 9 out of 10 of them asleep or trying to sleep? but it was not until afterward 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 dinner and a place to sleep overnight. london spleerexperienced this a. he stood in line. you had to get there as early in the day as you could. and it might be on a day where
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you had nothing to eat all day. you went and stood in line and might have to wait for four, five, six hours to get a place in the salvation army or other shelter. if you were lucky enough to get in, you would get dinner and a bed. before dinner, even, you had to listen to an hour-long sermon. london makes no bones about it "the people of the abyss" he was appalled by that. people who were weak from lack of sleep and 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 salvation army. i was pleased he got past his kind of disapproval of their actions at that time. london was a great admirer of
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oscar wilde, especially a pamphlet that he wrote called "the soul of man under social m socialism" and even though i can hardly feature too such disparate figures as oscar wilde and jack london, they agreed completely on socialism and its hopes and dreams. in his essay, wilde writes, we're off told that the poor are grateful for charity. some of them are, no doubt, but the best among the poor are never grateful. they are ungrateful, discontented, diobedient and rebellious. they're quite right to be so. charity they feel to be a ridiculous inadequate mode of partial restitution, usually accompanied by some inpertinent attempt to tiyrannize over thei lives. london shared this view completely. in one of his notebooks at the luntingten library, he wrote a book that's headed "the rebels."
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and he writes, oh, the joy of meeting with them. they are entatties. the cockney girl who slanged or spoke in slang, the criminals who applied their trade, et cetera. i was really puzzled by that word entities. i thought, yes, i'm not mistaking it. it's entities. i checked it out in the oxford dictionary and one of the meanings is a person who is a real person to reckon with. someone who is secure in his or her own being, 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 in deferential treatment of their people who had the money. and so he admired the people who stood up for themselves, and he always did.
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for london, the city, like london, and other large cities, london new york, the city was the source of poverty polluted place that starved both the soul and body. he looked to the soil, the rural life as a place to restore physical health and psychological wellbeing. when he found the farming land he wanted in 1905 in the sonoma valley, he wrote to his editor to describe, quote, 130 acres of the most beautiful, primitive land to be found anywhere in california. end quote. like so many emigrants before him who had traveled overland or around the horn to reach the land of golden dreams, london recognized the special meaning and opportunity of california. his dream was to create a ranch that would operate according to modern ecological principles. he believed his ranch would be a socialist model that would benefit people, and he determined to establish a part
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of the ranch as a respite where labor-worn workers from oakland and other cities could come for healthful rest and recovery from the city-bred evils of their lives. in 1911, he decided to launch a three-month journey north, north from sonoma. driving a four-horse wagon so he and his wife could see the wonders of the land. the four horses trip, as it became known, from june 12th to september 5th, and covering 1500 miles, took them to roseberg, oregon, and back. he declared, quote, i have written "the call of the wild" which some of my friends refer to as my best seller, but the thing nearest my heart is the call of the north, of norern california. the natural god-made paradise which equals only the paradise in habitute by adam, unquote. the theme of healing by a return to the soil is one that occupied
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london for the final years of his life, in such stories as all gold canyon and in such novels of "the valley of the moon." in this 1913 novel, we see the protagonists replicate jack and sharmian's four-horse trip, as they journey through the countryside, fleeing the lives of work beasts in oakland 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. quote, across sheer ridges of the mountains separated by deep, green canyons and broadening lower down into rolling orchards and vineyards, they caught their first sight of sonoma valley and the wild mountains that rimmed its eastern side. all of the eastern sky was blushing to rose, which descended upon the mountains, tumpi touching them with wine and ruby. sonoma valley began to fill with the purple flood, laving the
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mountain bases, rising, inundating, drowning them in its purple. the sunset fires refracted from the cloud driftage of the autumn sky, bathed the canyon with crimson. in which ruddy limed mudroneios burned and smoldered. the air was aromatic with laurel. wild grapevines bridged the streams from tree to tree. oaks of many sorts were veiled in lacy spanish moss. ferns and breaks grew lush beside the stream. from somewhere came the plaint of a morning dove, unquote. well, in great contrast to the peace and the serenity of the landscape and going back to nature in a sense, came april 18th, 1906. and i think we all know what happened that morning. the great san francisco earthquake struck. and here we see a page from sharmian london's diary. she has headed that page, that
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day's notation in red letters, earthquake. jack and sharmian were living at lake robin lodge and were awakened by the quake. they immediately 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. then 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 skiff out on the bay to look back on the city that had undergone such devastating ruin. london had said he didn't know if he could 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 fire to be published about the san francisco tragedy. it was published about two weeks after the event in collier's
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magazine. here's a little section near the beginning of that essay in which you'll hear very short telegraphic sentences that really give you the immediacy of being there on site. quote, not in history has a modern imperial city been so completely destroyed. san francisco is gone. nothing remains of it but memories of a fringe of dwelling houses on its outskirts. its industrial section is wiped out. its business section is wiped out. its social and residential section is wiped out. factories and warehouses, great stores and newspaper buildings, the hotels and the palaces are all gone. remains only the fringe of dwelling houses on the outskirts of what was once san francisco, unquote. this is a shot of city hall and some of the devastation.
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here we see looking north on larking street from city hall. city hall, again. and a long view from california and mason streets.e street from. city hall, again. and a long view from california and mason streets.n street from. city hall, again. and a long view from california and mason streets. this is the crocker mansion on knob hill. carney street, looking north from suter street toward telegraph hill. the san francisco stock exchange. so even money couldn't survive. here we see a view from mission street to the ruin of the smoke stack of the san francisco gas and electric company, station a.
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this is one of -- part of one of the tent cities that sprang up, mostly on the outskirts of the city, but really throughout. this one was on market street between battery and front. st. francis of assisi church from montgomery avenue. the barbre 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 san francisco's burning was a lurid tower. visible 100 miles away. and for three days and nights,
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this lurid tower swayed in the sky, reddening the sun, darkening the day, and filling the land with smoke. i'm going to turn it back to jeanne now. [ applause ] >> that, by the way, is the steps of the santa rosa city hall. well, we turn now to japan and korea in 1904. the russo japanese war of 1904 is not very well remembered today, but it was a great, great significance at the time, as it was the first time an asian nation had beaten a european one. the czar and the emperor of japan competed for control of eastern asia and its sea ports. the world did not think japan was capable of fighting the
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russians. but they sunk the entire russian fleet at port arthur in one day. in a surprise attack and the war was on. london was sent by the hearst sind dt to cover the news. he was extremely frustrated at japanese kecensorship. he kept getting arrested and sent back to seoul with the other correspondents. the japanese did not want the high cost of their own men to be publicized. london saw only one battle, the battle which was decisive, but because he could not photograph action, he turned his lens to the lives of everyday people behind the lines who had been affected by the war, beggars, orphans, ordinary villagers, village leaders, japanese soldiers with their injured feet. he made more photographs here than almost anywhere else. arrested twice in the process, teddy roosevelt was the one to
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get him out of court-martial in japan. and you'll notice here that london is shown with a japanese officer as though he is sort of our man in the orient discussing the war with -- yeah, that did not happen. you'll notice the an akronism of the stand camera with the cloth. that's not what he used.aronism the stand camera with the cloth. that's not what he usecronism o the stand camera with the cloth. that's not what he used. he was portraying the people who were victimized, but the newspapers wanted jack london on the front of the paper as though he were somehow america's representative. that's on the passenger ship on the way to yokohama, where unfortunately, jack fell off a part of the deck and broke both ankles, which was to trouble him for the rest of his life. this is called antm harbor. a pipe man making pipes in
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seoul. and this one, he called manchurian barber. this is a picture of the japanese infantry. here you'll notice something i hope you'll continue to notice. his gifted eye for composition, especially with linear convergences. quote, dikes and ditches were broken down, patty fields turned into muck and scored with great grooves by the wagon wheels and everywhere the patience toil of peasant people was stamped into the earth and destroyed. and always one received gazing into the faces of the men who had done these things an impression of strength. this is a little village. he says, quote, arrive at this forlorn village, people scared to death. already have had russian and japanese soldiers. we pult the finishing touch to their frieth. they have no room for us, no fuel, no charcoal, no food for
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our horses. we storm the village, force our way into the stables, capture 25 pounds of barley hidden in a man's trousers. so forth and so forth for two mortal hours. and this is but one of the days. this is the red cross wagon about which he writes an entire dispatch. you can see what's happening. the snow comes, it melts, comes, melts, creating this quagmire. this one he called chow. this one he labeled fire. this is at the river. at 10:00, the japanese battery on the right fired the first gun. following the report was a sound as of the violent ripping of a vast sheet of cloth, as the shell tore through the atmosphere and sighed away in the distance. two miles away, across the river and to the right of tiger hill,
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there was a bright flash, a puff of smoke and a dust cloud arose where the flying shrapnel tore the earth. again, quote, the russians were assailed from three sides. the day was lost. they knew it. and yet they fought on doggedly. night was falling, as the japanese drew closer, the russians turned loose their horses, destroyed or threw away their guns and as bayonet countered bayonet, drew white handkerchiefs from their pockets in token of surrender. this is the japanese army entering what they called p pinyang. today, pyongyang in north korea. next day, we found the road as far as the eye could see across the valleys from pass to pass in the crest of the passes. george gorges with baggage trains coming and going in double lines. there were quads of calvary and detachments of infantry. officers mounted and officers
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afoot. parties of the red cross outfit. bunches of pioneers drifting along and repairing the road. men of the telegraph corps at work on the wires. cooleys, bullet carts, trains of little korean ponies. tiny jack asses, squealing horses, and all down through it alone, chinese through man cure yeah, looking noorth to the right or the left but heading southward with curious eyes and expressionless face for a land where peace still smiled. as i write this, 1,000 soldiers are passing through my village next to my door. my men are busy drawing rations for themselves and horses for the army. these are his fellow correspondents watching that battle. exhausted japanese soldiers. this man was the former russian
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ambassador to seoul, and that little horse was named jack ended up owning it after the ambassador was escorted out of the country. and he named her belle. and that's the first horse he ever learned to ride. this is one of my favorite pictures because -- let's see. not getting my little pointer. at any rate, you can see that the father is looking directly at jack, child looking down, and the mother looking off into the distance. it's an extraordinary photograph. quote, and the troops stream by, the horses fight. they cook and interpreter squabbling four feet away from me, and the frost is in the air. i must close my doors and light my candles. a korean family of refugees, their household goods on their back just went by. now, he made two portrait series in korea, which shows artistic
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intent. in other words, he was not snapping snapshots. quote, for days we had forced our horses along a road which swarmed with white-clad cooleys. their shoulders were stooped forward, their faces bent toward the ground. their backs burdened with rice and fish, soil and sake, all of the food supplies of an oriental army. the villages were deserted, doors and windows went missing and the houses appeared blank and sightless. mutely protesting against the general devastation. here and there along the road, old men and women and children sold food to the toiling cooleys. the first series is of children, and they're numerous photographs of the orphan children of seoul. the small girl has a smaller center on her bacs on her baci on her bacs on her back.sist on her bace or. this boy is probably about 4 years old, working to sweep the
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street for something to eat. the second series of portraits involve old men, and some of them are young or they're village leaders. some 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 such as jimmy hear took photographs of sunken ships, et cetera, but london wants to see people's faces. thus all children, old people, and even the sufferings of the japanese enlisted man caught his camera. well now, we move to the south seas and the cruise of the snark from 1907 to 1909. it seems odd that a man newly remarried, having bought the beginnings of an extensive ranch
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in sonoma valley and embarked on a highly rewarding writing career, would spend a fortune to have a sailboat built and try to sail it around his world with his wife and a small, amateur crew, but that is what london did, claiming that he learned navigation aboard the first week. tried that for my students, i got past -- 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 traverse of 61 days from hawaii to the marchesas, no sailor would have done that. they got caught in the doldrums and almost ran out of water, they did run out of water. a rain squall saved their lives. the snark had been smashed in an
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accident in the harbor before they left, so she was not on kilter. she would not come about, if you're a sailor. she would not heave to or stop. and i can talk more about that during questions and answers. his reason for sailing, he says, quote, i like. here is the sea, the wind, and the wave. here are the seas, the winds, and the waves of all the world. here is ferocious environment. and here is difficult adjustment. the achievement of which is delight to the small and quivering vanity which is i. i like. i am so made. it is my own particular form of vanity, that is all. it's from chapter one of "the cruise of the snark." london's sense of adventure reflects his california coastal self, as the golden gate was the opening to the gold of the orient and all of the south seas. in the same fashion as heading west applied to many people heading to california, london's
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west expanded to include much of what used to be called the pacific rim. today, oesh ceana. >> i leave it to you, he says, who ever heard of a sailing boat that wouldn't heave to? that wouldn't heave to with a sea anchor to help it? out of my brief experience with boats, i know i never did. and i stood on deck and looked at the naked face of the inconceivable and monstrous, the narcthat wouldn't heave to. a stormy night with broken moonlight had come on. there was a splash of wet in the air, and up to winter, there was a promise of rain squalls and then there was the trough of the sea. if you're in the trough, horizontal to the waves, you capsize. and the snark complacentally rolled. and then we took in the sea anchor and hoisted the stay sail and ran the snark off before it and went below, not to the hot meal that should have awaited us, but to skate across the
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slush and slime on the cabin floor where cook and cabin boy lay like dead men from sea sickness in their bunks. and to lie down in our bunks with our clothes on, ready for a call and to listen to the bilge water spouting knee high on the galley floor. here they are in maui. and here they are in their lava lavas. london's powerful curiosity about other communities and individuals around the globe took him west from the marche marchesas. yes, they made it. to the dangerous archipelago. the society island, fiji, solomon, gilbert islands, and australia. along the way, he photographed men, women, and children in a variety of settings and photographed the whites that now controlled their lives. missionaries, traders, government officials. london's emphasis was on the heroism of the ordinary islanders.
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wonderful portrait of an old hawaiian man working in the fields. portuguese children working in the pineapple fields, really anticipates dorthea lang in the wsa photographers. his friends in honolulu when he was lionized by all of the wealthy or white people who belong or had been in hawaii a long time, but they made a mistake. lauren thurston, the editor of the honolulu advertiser and other dignitaries took london to the other side of oahu, which is the western side of the island where all of the plantations were. there he discovered the mix of nationalities whose slavery fueled the island economy. i'd say like share cropping really. they were indentured and contracts and found it difficult to get out of them.
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the hawaiian chinese and japanese filipino and portuguese plantation workers. he was flung out of favor among the powerful of honolulu when he wrote and photographed these people and the leper settlement on malachi. from a scientific point of view and a sympathetic point of view. they were there for the fourth of july rodeo. on to the marchesas islands. and here's the famous phonograph that went above the snark with 500 records as ballast. in tahiti, they met a man called earnest darling, called nature man, who was an early proponent of vegetarianism and socialism, vench wei run off by the french who got tired of his red loincloth and his red flag. tohe was a pilot and a character in his works. you can see the tenderness of some of these photographs. a samoan prince. and a samoan princess.
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this man was called bob, and we can talk about him a little bit later. he's the model for the story later. he's the model for the story "malky." this photograph caused great consternation at mcmillan. can you guess why? it's not the naked savage. no, it's the fact that a white woman is in the same frame with the naked savage. we can talk about that in a bit. this was another photograph that mcmillan wished to excise from the book. this man is martin johnson in all his glory. an 18-year-old boy who later became a worldwide adventurer with his wife osa johnson. this was a hashish party. the gentleman there on the, well, my left, is george darbyshire.
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one of the owners of the plantation. oh, sorry. and on the far right is tom harding, the other owner of the cocra plantation. they dried coconut meat for soap for proctor and gamble. he and his wife were kikied in 1914. that means eaten. this is one of my very favorite pictures, and i'll 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 in that place is money. so they are showing you their new rolex, their new porsche. london gets it. and if you look at it, you have to understand he was flat on the ground to get that shot.
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he often shoots up on the natives to ennoble them. they went aboard a slave ship, which was nearly overrun by angry islanders. they were saved by the local missionary. these are all in the solomon islands. and there is jack saying good-bye with his camera. >> i just want to utter a half dozen words to sum up the entire show of the photography. jack london's literary idol was the novelest joseph conrad. conrad wrote, "my task is before all to make you see that and no more and yet it is everything. if i succeed, you shall find there, according to your desserts, encouragement, consolation, fear, charm, all
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you demand. and perhaps also that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask. thank you." >> next up is peter blodgett. >> thank you, bruce, and i'm happy that i managed to navigate past my cospeaker donna campbell without having landed either on her or over her. it's a bit crowded quarters, but i trust that by the end of the program, you'll agree that having the four of us up here was worth it. well, let me offer particular thanks to mark and preedy for their marvelous management of today's festivities, though in
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doing so let me also say that, really, i'm sure we didn't 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'm the outlier here. i'm a historian, and i bow to the knowledge of my colleagues about london and 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 dangers relying upon coincidence as the framework for any
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argument. nonetheless, in undertaking my portion of this appraisal of jack london's life and career, there are some irresistible coincidences at the moments 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 ajdjacent sis to jack london's birth. it was, of course, as any of us who are not completely numerically challenged realize the year of the american centennial, including the great exhibition in philadelphia that year. it's the year alexander graham bell had his success in communicating with his mr. watson through his pioneering efforts with the telephone.
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it's 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 tilldon 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. it is the year of the publication in britain and the united states of the adventures of tom sawyer, and, of course, as i'm sure our distinguished panelists will elaborate upon, it's intriguing to see how those two grand meteors of 19th century american letters would intertwine themselves over time. most intriguingly, at least to me as an historian of the west,
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it is also the year in which george armstrong custer on june 25th of that year and then less than two months later wild bill hickok on august 2nd transformed to their realm in 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 hikock, as well, thousand i've never had and hope not to at any time in the near future, had the pleasure of aces and eights, the fabled dead man's hand that hickok had drawn
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just before jack mccaul 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 and charles dudley warner's 1873 novel, "the gilded age: a tale of today," this for the decade spanned the last quarter of the 19th century has established itself as the irresistible metaphor. not only for the cynical malfeasance and unrelenting corruption of those years, but as the characteristic description of the epitome of such behavior in any other time
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and place, including, of course, as we see today, any number of people resurrecting it for our own time. but what is the west in that era? well, it's the region that spans the continent from the mississippi river to the pacific slope, is one in which the extraction of wealth from often on dur rat realms of land and sea is the essential aspect of the american west. it is extracted industries that are essential, such things as mining, livestock raising, and agricultural more generally. those are the key things for the entire region. there is, of course, a handful of cities. the one just a little distance from here, the one whose name, of course, should never pass the lips of any angelino.
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san francisco, folks, it's okay. 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 it involved extracting wealth from some aspect of the landscape. it's 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, denied the opportunity for liberty, and in some instances denied the opportunity even for life itself.
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if you look at the effects of american expansion upon the indigenous peoples of the west, if you look at the treatment of mexican-americans, chinese, japanese, or other immigrants of color. it's 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, and it's an era of oligarchy. that's pretty clear. not merely in the center of the country or the eastern states, you know, the rockefellers, the guggenheims and other economic figures of great wealth whose
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fortunes are even now taking shape, but in particular figures here in the far reaches of the country, huntington, mark hopkins, leyland 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 descent and opposition that are already beginning to appear. and as much as the extracted industries would characterize the west, the response of individuals to the oppression that so many involved in those industries would suffer would become absolutely crucial for defining this landscape, as well. it's also important to remember,
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though, it wasn't merely the age of the gilded, but also the era of progressivism. for the descent, 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. the urbanization of the region played no part of that. so many of those who supported progressivism were of the middling classes, people of sufficient means to pursue their opportunities while not so
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economically well healed 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 impact 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's an era of accelerating technological advance in nearly every field of extracted industry. that would be a development that would have enormous importance upon the bright pool of unskilled laborers who made up the west's working classes, and it was also an era that would
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begin to stress, along with or in concert with theodore roosevelt, the tribune of the progressive era, the importance of immersing one's self in the outdoors, which roosevelt in his so characteristic fashion, described as the strenuous life. that life of toil and effort, of labor, that ensures the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or bitter toil will win the splendid ultimate trium triumph. it is certain ly an era in whic both prosperity and poverty, to steal a line from the social reformer henry george, characterized the landscape of the west, it was, however, in the imagination of americans an
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era powered by the unrelenting flood tide of tales of adventure and fortune that emanated from the hastily 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 shows. and later the great popular writers, great only in the sense of their success in selling their wares, such as owen wister and the first western film, such as "the great train robbery," in which americans were absolutely
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inundated with the renderings of popular culture. it's 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'm 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's important to remember that the west as conceived by these writers, was really a landscape
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of -- that could be seen as opening, conquering, and settling the transmississippi west and the literature that described those events is really abstracted from those experiences, their distinctive virtues that were thought by many americans to have been infiltrated 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 to 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 west upon extracted industries surely gave him a variety of productive settings in which to contemplate and explore his fascination with man's place in nature, his struggle with
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nature's pitiless forces, and confrontations to enhance human self awareness, but novels we're not talking about here. so, jack london, of course, shuffles off this mortal coil in late november 1916 as a year that saw, among many other possibilities, incorporation of the boy scouts in the united states through an act of congress and the establishment of the national park service. two wonderful examples of americans' commitment to immersing themselves in the outdoors. it saw the release of d.w. griffith's epic film "intolerance," a great example of the kind of interest in cinema that london, of course, himself exemplified in his later
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years. and sadly for most of us here in this room, it also saw v. union pacific railroad company, which unfortunately for all of us upheld the revenue act of 1913, which, of course, 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, nearly three weeks after woodrow wilson was re-elected president, winning the crucial votes of california, that is the electoral votes, by a mere 3,800 votes in the popular election. though wilson was the candidate who kept us out of war, much of that year could hardly be described as pacific, except, perhaps, in your view of the
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ocean. the mexican revolution spilled over into the united states with poncho villas attacks. the easter rising in dublin, attempting to overthrow british rule over the long suffering island of ireland. the abandonment of british efforts to knock the ottoman empire out of the first world war with their evacuation of the expedition and at verdon and the psalm, the agonizing continuation of the slaughter of a generation continued on the squalid battlefields of france. these are moments in the historical landscape which i think are important and worth considering for they offer us a
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framework of how america would be unfolding in the coming generations. it can at least be said, however, 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 22nd, 1916. thank you. >> okay, donna.
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>> okay. i promise you 22 minutes of vast sweep, so i can only hit a few things in there. oh, sorry. sorry. the california writer jack london encouraged readers to see his works as an extension of his life in which action, adventure, and writing seemed to be mixed in equal proportions. london represented his own life as a story in which he rose from working class poverty and long days as a child laborer to become an oyster pilot, sailor on a sea hunting ship, a seal hunting ship, a prospector during the klondike gold rush, a war correspondent, and a rancher. like mark twain, london embraced his status as a celebrity author and became internationally famous for his life and adventures, as well as his writing. what london did not embrace celebrity for its own sake. he worked steadily as a writer
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for nearly 20 years before his early death at age 40, turned out 1,000 words a day before publishing 40 books, 22 novelas, short stories, five 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. as jack london biographer notes, by december 31st, 1914, the mcmillan company alone had sold nearly 1 million copies of his books and he was now the highest paid author in america. the northland tales, including to build a fire and call of the wild made him famous. the sea wolf, white fang confirmed his literary reputation, and his short stories, including those written late in life, are now considered to be his most psychologically complex works. above all, he was, as the title of this symposium has it, an apostle of the american west, a
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tireless chronicler and son of california. from his days in oakland and san francisco, to his promoting of farming methods near glenn ellen. today i want to give a brief overview not of london's many other lives, but 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 influence on other writers, and his contributions to american fiction. so, jack london was not in the first wave of western writers the california bohemians such as bret hart, mark twain, and charles warren stott dard seen here with george sterling. london was mentored by one of their number, though, later the poet laureate of california as the librarian of the oakland public library, she as london later wrote, was the first to encourage this thirsty hungry
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little kid and compliment him on his choice of books. london read widely and traveled history, anthropology, science, and philosophy, citing darwin's origin of species and herbert spencer's philosophy of style as influential but also mapped out an ambitious reading program, one of two volumes he took to the klondike with him. as well as robert browning, edgar allan poe, robert louis stev stevenson, and roger kipling. i would never have written the way i did had kipling never been. but london was no mere imitator of kipling and he initially had a 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 divided between the well established literary east, centered first in boston and then new york, and the roughneck
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west, but by london's day influenced by darwin and the emerging science of anthropology, theodore roosevelt, whom we've heard about, and others, began to worry about the united states becoming too soft and overcivilized, a culture of molly coddles, as roosevelt put it, instead of red bloods. roosevelt, pictured here in presidential splendor and in the cowboy garb of his days in south dakota had overcome a sickly childhood to become an apostle of what he called the strenuous life. as roosevelt showed in his own books, the time was right for literature to follow suit. when london began his career, however, historical romances and the genteel realism of the previous generation still held sway, as london shows in his novel "martin edin." the high priest of realism never reviewed jack london, but london did not hesitate to caricature
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him in "martin edin" as a, quote, ponderous bromide and favorite of english professors, microscopic minded parrots. so, the later novels of henry james, another realist writer, frustrated london as indeed they did james' good friend because of their focus on interior consciousness with very little action. a story that sinclair louis told about london suggests the difference between the two. jack picked up james' the wings of the dove and standing there, short, burly, soft shirt and black tie read allowed in a bewildered way while henry james' sliding, slithering, glittering verbiage unwound itself on and on. jack banged the book down and yelled, do any of you even know what this junk is about? so howell's dominance and that of the high cultured literary magazines was slipping away with the new century. for newer popular magazines such as "the saturday evening post,"
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the call went out for good easy reading for the people, no frills, no fine finishes, but action, action, always action. london could provide the action, as could a host of other writers such as rex beach and richard harding davis. what london could add, however, was a deeper significance to the tales of action based on his scientific theories, aligned with literary naturalism. in contrast to howells and james, who chronicled civilized behavior, london wrote of a world in which heredity and environment ruled human behavior and the primal impulses of human beings were barely concealed behind civilization. this was shared by its contemporary steven crain, theodore drieser and feller californian novelist frank norris. beginning with his tales of the klondike, animals and human beings, he showed the brute within with his theme of add
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vichl, the accumulation of primitive traits from prehistoric ancestors. balancing out tendencies with the teachings of civilization, london's characters were forced to balance ethical principles of comradeship and fair play with the realities of their desperate situations, a situation he explored in the call of the wild. reviewers took note when london burst on to the literary scene with "the call of the wild," described as red bloodied, vigorous, primitive, the call of the wild seemed to introduce a breath of fresh air. the story of buck, a dog, who reverts to his ancestral wolfish nature is the, quote, hard laid bear and a book untouched by its booshishness, kind of a double-edged compliment there. an instant classic, it introduced the phrase "a call of
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the wild" into the american lexicon as you can see by its rise in popularity after 1903. so with a bold stroke of "the call of the wild," london set the course for changing the new century of american literature in terms of his style, subject matter, and treatment. london's style, which featured bold, clear, and vigorous prose blasted through fiction, subject matter of human beings ignored by polite realism, oppressed workers, boxers, tramps, prisoners, revolutionists and the rest, opened new realms for writing about real life. his treatment was accompanied by a complexed new approach to gen res consigned to leisure reading or a juvenile story. so having made his mark, this is the most of caramel we're going to get, london was eager to share what he had learned, not
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only with those who had encouraged him, george sterling, blanch gentry among others, but aspiring writers that sought his council. note mary austin's braids there. those will come back into play. so among those who benefited from london's advice were western women writers. to frequent ranch visitor and future journalist, 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 austin. writer francis marian, born in san francisco, credited london, a friend of her father's, with telling her to write about real things. "if you expect to write stories pulsing with real life, you must go forth and live," he said. inspired by this advice she got a job in a factory, mistakenly
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hit another worker with a peach and was promptly fired. yet she persisted. she launched a successful collaboration and later worked as a screenwriter for mgm, winning an academy award in 1930 for her screenplay of "the prisoner picture." rose wilder lane, daughter of laura ingalls wilder, was inspired by london and wrote the first biography of him for sunset magazine. when charmaine london threatened a lawsuit over the book publication she lightly fictionalized the biography into a novel she called "he was a man." mary austin, london had a closer professional relationship with mary austin, best known for "the land of little rain," her novel about the water project. as an old friend from their days at carmel, austin felt free not merely to praise, but take him to task.
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the truth is, jack, that the one thing that keeps you from being the great writer of your generation is your incapacity to understand my kind of women. you don't know anymore about us than a stallion knows about eagles, to use your kind of figure. so, this apparently amused jack and his wife forritten on the back of the envelope are two comments in their handwriting, she seems very eegtistic, so much so she almost thinks you can't live without her. upton sinclair had personal, as well as professional ties to jack london, for he had recruited london to be the celebrity president of the intercollegiate socialist society in 1905. sinclair was also associated with the progressive era group of authors who, like london, wrote for mcclure's magazine and exposed social injustice and corruption.
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called mock rakers by theodore roosevelt because, he said, they were like john bunion's man with the muck rake who could see nothing but filth before him, the muckrakers wore it with pride. the jungle led to the pure food and drug act and london had already endorsed it as a masterpiece, which he called the uncle tom's cabin of wage slavery. sinclair louis, also a member of the carmel crowd and later the author of main street babette was the first american to win the nobel prize for literature in 1930, but when london knew him he was young, eager and broke. so from london louis would learn to ground his fiction in ordinary american lives and speech patterns. so london's influence was particularly strong if not always acknowledged in a couple of mid century writers.
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moving a little bit later here. john stein beck and ernest hemingway. steinbeck laid claim to london as a literary precursor as his biographer writes, steinbeck entertained visions of sailing in the manner of his fellow californian jack london and his novels. as london had done with the people of the abyss, stein beck used a documentary approach to weave together the stories of those driven from their land by a combination of the great depression and an interlocking set of economic structures that held accountable to no greater good than making a profit. in combining three of london's persistent themes, social justice, the road, and love of land, grapes of wrath updates london's 1913 novel the valley of the moon, which we've already heard about, but it reaches a
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very different conclusion. like saxon brown and billy roberts, the characters that claim land of their own, the jode family leaves search of work and land in california, the promise land. unlike billy and saxon, the joed family is driven from place to place and cheated of their wages to keep the price up even as children go hungry. although in the green hills of africa ernest hemingway claimed kinship whose adventures of huckleberry fin he called the best novel we've had, his work owes the most obvious debt to jack london in terms of style and subject matter. the ostensible subject matter, boxing, fishing, hunting, the conscienceness of nationals and being on the road and his actual subject matter, grace under pressure, relationships between men and women and an alienation
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that his characters feel but can never express all align him with london, so does the famous style with its visceral rugged prose consisting of lean descriptions, terse dialogue, and understated emotions. credited to hemingway, the style is an acknowledged echo of the best of london's work. so many contemporary writers owe a debt to london, but in interest of time i'll mention just three. the first one is jack kerouac, although his best known work is a half century old, he was inspired by london's travels and his 1907 book "i'm riding the rails." kerouac wrote about his experiences famously in "on the road," and london is the only author kerouac mentions by name in the novel. although london saw his book as nonfiction and kerouac wrote his as a novel, books about traveling through the underside of america reveal the social constraints of its promise of
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freedom. the second author is author of the shipping news, accordion crimes and a trilogy of wyoming stories, the finest close range includes brokeback mountain. she protested that influence is a silly concept. in addition to the spare pitiless wyoming landscapes of her stories and characters' helpless accidents, she reveals a combination of the craft of story telling and social justice issues that drive some of london's best stories. as she explains, story telling trumps social issues. i don't 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. okay. as jean campbell reeseman reminds us, almost exactly 50 years separates the road.
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mccarthy shows the influence of london not only his characters traveled, but naturalistic philosophy. in an interview, mccarthy explains there's no such thing as life without bloodshed. i think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone can live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous. which sounds like it could have come from london's mouth. in conclusion, london's legacy for western writers is multifaceted. i want to mention just a few things. first and most obvious is his insistence in writing about and investing with deeper significance subjects that people actually wanted to read about in a style that they actually could read. a clarity that makes london seem perennially modern. a second facet of london's legacy lies in his attempts to comprehend beings different from himself, from other animals to other cultures and portray the
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sense of justice and personal dignity to which all sense yent beings learn, yearn. the same honor that animates westerns such as the virginian and his countless successors. third, london brought a story teller's vivid zriptive power not only to the beauties of california or tasks his readers would never know, but also to introducing people such as the lepers of malachi or poor people of the abyss to his readers on terms of common humanity. and finally, what links london with other western writers in particular is what we might call american restlessness, the desire to take to the road and seek adventure in the west. it is this restlessness that inspires huck finn to lie out for the territories. but in london's life where the pull of his beauty ranch at glenn ellen could not cure his yearn to travel, finding a home in the west always competes with the individual's desire to escape from an oppressive
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society. it is this that animates their best work and writing and manage to find a place where they can exist in both. thank you. >> well, thank you very much. it's cooled off a little bit. so we have time for question and answer, and we're going to throw it out to the audience. i will throw out a first question to give you some time to think, but i'm only going to ask one question. we teach a course on the american west and one of the things that shelly and the other instructors developed is how the west was kind of a creature of a 19th century optimism about technology. and what strikes me is there must have been a real lesson
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there about the limits of technology. we're talking about how underneath the ro man-to-man schism of the west was poverty, there was things he saw that suggested optimism and civilization wasn't as well placed as people believed, so i wonder first of all what was the reflection on the 1906 earthquake, did it make him think about even more how fragile civilization was on top of this? and secondly, i found a contradiction between his lifestyle, which is this heroic lifestyle you normally associate with this optimism and man's ability to conquer nature, and that it doesn't seem to have been where he concluded. so first the 1906 and second, because you ended on the contradiction of the man. >> the earthquake deeply affected london. it showed the fragility of man's inventions. he certainly believed in those inventions, he used them abundantly to make his life more
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enjoyable and easier, but he thought there was a fragility there and we shouldn't depend unduly upon them. he always looked back to the natural land, to his ranch, to the beautiful scenery in california and elsewhere in the south pacific, to center himself and to find release and relief from the rigors and the depry dagss of the cities and the way the city could just wear down your spirit and your soul, as well as your body. so for him, the natural landscape was always restorative. >> i'm thinking about your question, i kind of wanted to talk about there's one scene in his very last fully published novel, "the little lady of the big house," and i think it kind of says a lot about the way he looked at technology. in the book, the rancher, who is, of course, based on london,
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has all these technological marvels and runs his acreage like clockwork and so forth and he has a new invention, and the invention is a tractor, and you chain it to a pole in the middle of the field and it plows itself, kind of like a self driving car, right? but what he never addresses is what happens when it all winds up and you have the tractor stuck in the middle of the field all wound up with the pole. you're stuck. there's a kind of stuckness to it, and i think that idea that we think about technology, but we don't think it all the way through and that is, i think, a theme in that novel. i think that's what he's trying to address is, we rely on it, but at the same time it literally can stop us, or if natural events stop us such as the earthquake, there we are. >> just add a little bit more, he certainly had this contradiction of liking technology, but, you know,
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reverting back to the natural landscape, but he, as donna was just saying, he used technology in that landscape on his own ranch he raised prize-winning pigs, and he built a stone ed fas called the pig palace and the pig palace was a wonder of technology. it was built in a circle and had what i like to think of as porcine condos around the edge in stone and concrete and a large, large silo in the middle of it. you could pull a lever and it would release food simultaneously to all of the little piggy condos. it was very easy. one person could feed all the pigs very easily and quickly, and it could also round up all the waste matter in the same fashion with one pel of the lever, so he was able to adapt technology for what he saw as a useful and productive and noble purpose. >> new idea for undergraduate housing, i guess. just a thought.
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>> okay. i'll send it out. yes? [ inaudible question ] >> let's start again with the mike. >> i wonder if one of the panelists could speak to jack london's connection to the bohemian grove. i saw a cartoon in the beginning of the slide show. >> i can't really -- that was part of what got cut, but he was a member of the bohemian club. he wrote plays for their annual high jinks. it was then an exclusive club, as well. i don't know, i should probably turn this over to jean, who can talk more specifically about it. >> i'd be happy to. the bohemian club is a gentleman's club in downtown san francisco, but up in the russian
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river in mendocino county, of course, is the grove. closed to women forever. still that way. it started out -- pardon me? do you, that's wonderful. my goodness, that's a change. they had a summer event called the jinks," or high jinks. london, george sterling, a number of other writers and so-called bohemians, artists and so on, would go up there and enjoy a week or so of running probably naked in the woods, a lot of drinking, a lot of partying, but they put on a play every year, which they still do. no one is supposed to talk about the bohemian grove club who's not a member, so i shan't speak much, but i do know from people that talk two years ago my friend observed clint eastwood
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and henry kissinger in drag. today it's more a club for very wealthy people, but it started out as a bunch of artists up there and it occupied a lot of london's time in the summer, and he enjoyed being with his friends, except for ambrose bearce. if you read the letters between sterling and london or between bearce and sterling, it's just full of offers to fight and curses and this, that, and the other. i think they were the frenemies, as we say now. there was a famous incident in which -- i'm sure there was a lot of alcohol behind it -- bearce and london actually did get into a fistfight. both of them ended up passed out on the edge of the river, the russian river. thank god that someone pulled them out, but it was a very important part of his life to be with his artist friends and to,
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shall we say, carry on at the bohemian grove. it's still very private and exclusive and you can drive by it, which i've done, but i have not ever set foot. >> let's -- yeah, what we're going to do is go to one speaker and the second one so that we're always one lined up ahead. okay, hands up to the question. question in the front. anybody else have a question? then my system isn't -- two in the front. okay. let's go over here and then there. yeah. wait for the mike. always wait for the mike. >> is this the book tv on c-span? >> yeah, this is your moment of fame. make it a brief moment of fame. >> all right, i won't star on it. >> also works best when you put it next to your mouth. >> i got introduced to jack
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london, besides being a native san franciscoen because did you know that the setting for "call of the wild" is in santa clara at the ranch there, and i was writing a book on historic architecture and somebody gave me a list, so i got real interested. and i've been reading everything preparing for the 100th thing, and what about the big sickness? now, one of his biographers attributed that to that it had to do with nichy, but as early as 1904, 1905, right when he was making all the money and so successful and marrying, was the beginning of his strong depression. does anybody know anything more about that and where the term "the big sickness" came from? >> okay. >> i'd be happy to speak to that, if i may. it was a long sickness, he called it, and it was, you know, probably the result of a number
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of factors, but his separation from his first wife bessey and his two daughters, joan and becky, caused, obviously, a great deal of pain for everyone. and he had fallen in love with a woman named charmaine kitridge and was experiencing 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 were charmaine there. i believe this was probably the most important factor. people need to remember he did not read nichy until 1906 and that's after the sea wolf, which is often described, 1904, often described as a critique of the nichy and superman. nichy was in the air. london read about him, probably
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read some, but in the end, as you can see in "the sea wolf," he utterly the individualist, although this could be a problem in the book like martin edin, his semiautobiographical novel. everyone reads it as a portrait of a strong individualist undone by celebrityhood. london believed it was a testament to socialism, and that were martin a socialist, he would not have committed suicide as he does, sorry, spoiler, oops. and so, you know, i think 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, and the decision to leave his friends from san francisco and oakland to move with charmaine eventually up into sonoma valley, i think that
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was probably fairly difficult, as well, but it's important to remember, and i often have to remind my students, london did not stand for the solo macho adventurer, although it certainly often appears that way. he believed in the trailmate, the comrade, those who in his works set out alone die, especially in the klondike tales. so in the end, not take very long, london rejected both spencer and his social darwinism, as well as niche. although a lot of readers still are attracted to that lone wolf aspect. a good example of this is john krackow's book "call to the wild," which was made into a popular film in which this poor young man believes he understands london and heads out into the alaskan wilderness to escape his parents by himself.
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and if you know the story, you know that alexander super chatr, as he calls himself, oops, another spoiler, dies in the end. he carves all these things on this board about jack london, but he totally misinterpreted london. london is a socialist and he believes in brother and sisterhood. >> okay, very good. i think we go to the mike. >> given his experiences, what do you think sparked him to spend so much time on his aquarium interests? >> well, i can also speak a bit to that, it was charmaine. he had, as i said, an aversion to country life, but when he met her, you know, she was a vegetarian, she was what we call a health nut, she had been raised that way. and i believe he saw the country as salvation, as several people
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have mentioned. and a healthful way of life, something that might save him from the pressures and temptations of urban life. it is an interesting fact, however, that for all of his devotion to that ranch, and it was love for that ranch, he kept building it and buying more and more property, london was, if you look at the dates, in a way rarely on the ranch. his travels took him around the world, he was a war correspondent and so on, so it's a very interesting tension in his works between the urban and the country. oh, if i could add one more thing, he thought of the ranch as a socialist experiment. he tried organic farming and was successful at that. he thought of the ranch as a sort of engine that would take in any stray who showed up, give him a job.
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he'd send workers' children to college, he planned to build a school on the ranch, and 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 that he talks about this in is "burning daylight." it's one of his farm novels, and the main character is a prospector and makes a fortune and comes down and engages in a lot of business and tradings. actually the first half is kind of a business novel and then he finds himself out of shape, depressed and so forth, and then he moves to glenn ellen with the help of a woman that he falls in love with and there are these rap chous descriptions of their rides throughout the country and how the farm helps to restore him, so he kind of wrote that experience and feeling into -- well, he wrote it into several novels, but that's the one he describes the transformation, i
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think, as well as in any. >> i'd also add a bit to this broader content the american letters and more broadly in american society the desire to immerse one's self in the outdoors was approaching an app ji in the early 20th century. you see people like john muir in california writing about how important it is for thousands -- and how wonderful it is for thousands of nerves shattered over urbanized americans to go out and immerse themselves in these landscapes where they can save their souls, and this kind of expansive scope of this kind of perception of what nature means in opposition to the city, while i wouldn't argue is
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necessarily the principle thing pushing london out the door in that regard, it certainly is incredibly common within the society of the time. and californians in particular, especially the middle class and above, are beginning really to look at bringing the outdoors in and taking the indoors out in life, in recreation, archite architectu architecture, outdoor recreation, you know, so these are things, again, as several of my co-panelists have said, these are concepts very much in the air. and it's important to keep that in mind, as well. >> i think we go -- we follow the mike. you have the mike, right? >> thanks. can i be heard? >> yes. >> oh, good. i had wanted to say that i believe that jack london considered both the people of the abyss to be more representative book of his world
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view and feelings and that my family feels very honored to have been inspiration that was better known to both "the call of the wild," which begins with a and my family's farm and has central character based on my family's dog. >> very good. >> thanks. >> we need to pass the mike. >> you've talked about the external contradictions that jack london, the contradictions between country life and city life and the rich and the poor. i'm interested in what seemed to me like internal contributions. his trope of the wolf. it seems the wolf is the predator in so many instances. wolf larsen. there is no redeeming qualities
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in this man. a major figure in his writing and yet he he lived in wolf house. and buck reverts to his wolf ancestry. was he conflicted in his use of this trope of this wolf? >> yes. i think what makes a writer, an artist interesting are those complexity thes and contradictions. the most obvious one is between individualism, strong, masculine hero, the strenuous. >> adrian: and socialism. this is something back and forth his whole life. as far as the wolf, one of the things london stresses so much in "the called call of the wild" is bucks joining the pack. they work in concert with each other. and his nickname was wolf both
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to his friend george sterling who was greek and to some of his other friends. but they called each other mate. and it is is sort of referencing animals. london is a writer full of many contradictions. but they are all productive and fascinating to the reared, to the scholar and historian i think. but definitely a very, very complex man. hardly the person some readers sought of. they sat down and wrote them down. most of jack lesson son's time was spent reading. he claimed he could read six books a day sometimes. and i'm not going to say he couldn't. >> where is the mike? >> right here. >> oh, there you are. >> as it happens right now, i'm
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reading a book called "buffalo bill in blown that" about the globalization of american culture. and on to that it made me think about jack london as a vector of this globalization. i wonder which was more than national celebrity. i wonder if some of you could comment on that issue. >> jack london made headlines no matter what he did or no matter what he was rumored to be about to do. he was headlines. everyday's mail would arrive clippings from all over the world. in huntington, we have 30 scrapbooks. they are this thick. they are huge, ledger volumes that are just packed. every page is packed edge to edge with clippings. solon don cultivated celebrity
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because he needed to make money to support the ranch. he supported a large extended family. he embarked on all of these ventures that were enormously expensive. the snark cost $30,000. that is a ton of money. he lived big. and he spent a lot of money. he made a lot of money. and he knew that if his name was big that would bring in more income and sell more books. ye is s, he was a worldwide celebrity. when he embarked on the crews of the snark, it was uncles are co. uncle roscoe said he would be navigator on the cruise. they got out in the pacific and roscoe said, where are we? and roscoe goes, i don't know. so the story is, and i almost
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think it's true, that jack from the library of books pulled out the guides to navigation. we have those in the huntington library. and i have looked at his annotations. he spent an afternoon teaching himself how to navigate. then he was the navigator from then on. so they were a little bit overdue hitting honolulu, but they hit it. it was on the nail worldwide the press was reporting fame osu author lost at sea, overdue in honolulu, presumed lost, tragic loss. they followed the cruise of the snark. when he sent home his dispatching from korea about the japanese war, they didn't publish pictures of the war, they published pictures of jack london. his celebrity was always there. he was translated in many, many foreign languages. to this day it is said, and i
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don't doubt that it might be true, he is still the most read american author in the world. and that says a lot. a lot of other cultures find things to admire about jack london, whether in russia, it might be his socialist views or the fact that he was a self-educated man. i know in france, among many views of london, his political actions and writings are highly valued. so he resonates. and he can write person to person. you feel as though you know him. when i did an exhibit on jack london in the late 1980s we put a 300 page of blank volumes and asked people the question, what does jack london mean to you? i was stunned. i hadn't expected this men. more than 50% filling those 300 pages. more than 300 people addressed their remarks, dear jack. i found that stunning. yet the more i read about him, i'm not surprised anymore.
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he reaches people in a very direct way. so his readers follow him in that way. >> okay. we have time for one more question and that's it. because they closed off the windows here. it's going to get hotter and hotter. a brief question and a brief response. >> is it on? very brief, the socialist movement at that time was very infected biracial ideas, particularly white supremacy and ferociously anti-chinese and anti-japanese. what was his relationship to that dynamic within the socialist movement? >> jean has written a whole book on this, so i will let her answer it. >> jack london's racial lives from the university of georgia press. and i wanted to take on the
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elephant in the living room. what keeps many professors, in particular sometimes away from london, is their assumption that i was consistently a rabid, sort of racist. i had in my book he was a racist but not a very good one. his attitudes toward other cultures, unfortunately from my writing in that book, didn't go from being a racist, oh, to being completely free of such a thing. it goes up and down. i index it to his health at the time. the financial pressures he was under. but, for example, london covered the two jack johnson heavyweight fights. unfortunately for people like ken burns, they read incomplete newspaper stories. i worked at a newspaper. i blocked off many an ending of a story. but the actual things that he
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wrote about those fights are in a book called "jack london reports." published in the '70s. out of print. very hard to the find. but he starts out the white man is superior. over the course of his dispatching in sydney in 1908 when he fought tommy burns and in reno in 1910 when he fought jim jeffrey's, jack's appreciatation and understanding of johnson does go from thinking complete and total admiration for him. here's my hand, jack. you're the better man. he compares jeffries to a corn field. and johnson to mont blanc, which is an odd image. but he treated jeffries at the train station. jeffrey blew him off.
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london went to jack johnson's camp where there was wine, women, and song. in both cases, his prior attitudes, which were public attitudes become genuinely admiring of jack johnson. the two had a lot in common. they are both entertainers. he quoted shakespeare to annoy the crowd which screamed kill him, kill him over and over. but london's racial studies are really vital to his work. >> okay. i think we have to finish. first of all, let's thank both the panelists and the staff for all the work they did. [ applause ]. and then she secondly i want to remind you we have reception and the pop-up exhibit behind you. and you have the owner of the exhibit if you want to question some of the items. he

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