The Call of the Wild first appeared in serial form in the popular magazine The Saturday Evening Post in 1903. Later that year, an expanded version was published in book form and enjoyed favorable reviews and commercial popularity. The novel's simple style and crude depiction of harsh realities in the frozen Klondike region appealed to a reading public tired of the sentimental, romanticized fiction that dominated the literary marketplace. At the same time, readers were drawn to it as an adventure story, a popular genre in turn-of-the-century America.
In writing the novel, Jack London drew on his experiences in the Klondike gold rush of 1897. In fact, many critics see parallels between the author's and the protagonist's experiences. The novel has been one of the most beloved animal stories ever written precisely because London was able to keep the story of a dog's adventures realistic, while allowing readers to relate to Buck's perspective.
Although the novel has long been considered a children's book, many literary scholars have argued that the novel's complexities warrant close analysis. Chief among the topics of interest to scholars is the novel's relationships to the philosophy of the "survival of the fittest" that was in vogue at the turn of the century.