To Build a Fire by Jack London

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History of the Text

Reception and Publication History: First published in Century Magazine in 1908, “To Build a Fire” is London’s rewrite of a 1902 short story of the same title. In London’s 1902 story, the protagonist survives his journey, despite suffering from severe frostbite. Upon its 1908 publication, “To Build a Fire” was praised by both critics and audiences. It is celebrated for its sparse yet eloquent language, which uses poetic refrains in describing the brutal climate the protagonist attempts to endure. Some have cited the story as a stylistic inspiration for Ernest Hemingway, particularly due to its spare, understated quality. “To Build a Fire” is London’s most anthologized short story and has been heralded as “one of the best short stories ever” by the New York Times

  • The Klondike Gold Rush: In August 1896, gold was discovered in the Yukon region of Canada, prompting over 100,000 people to travel to the dangerously cold mining regions of Canada and Alaska. Jack London was one such intrepid soul, and the stories he set in Canada and Alaska ignited his...

(The entire section is 336 words.)