Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 391
The Call of the Wild (1903) is one of Jack London’s most famous Klondike novels. The novel’s hero is a dog named Buck, a family pet that is stolen and sold as a sled-dog for use in the Klondike Gold Rush. The novel depicts Buck’s experiences as he is brutalized by his captors, grows increasingly wild, and fights to become lead dog.
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Published in 1906, Jack London’s novel White Fang is often considered the counterpart to The Call of the Wild. It recounts the adventures of White Fang, a dog that is also part wolf, living half-wild in the Klondike and subject to both the savagery and kindness of humans. The novel portrays White Fang’s eventual domestication.
The Library of America edition of Jack London’s Novels and Stories (1982) contains not only the texts of The Call of the Wild and White Fang but also includes maps of the areas featured in London’s Klondike fiction as well as a ‘‘Historical and Geographical Note’’ by the volume’s editor, Donald Pizer.
Pierre Berton’s Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush, 1896-1899 (rev. ed., 1987) examines the rush for gold in Canada’s Klondike territory from the Canadian point of view, discussing the clash of cultures that occurred between orderloving Canadians and libertarian Americans as they hunted for gold.
Alaska: Reflections on Land and Spirit (1989) is a collection of essays written over the last hundred years edited by Robert Hedin and Gary Holthaus. The editors describe their collection as a gathering of ‘‘travelogues, diaries, meditations, and narratives by homesteaders, missionaries, anthropologists, psychologists, ornithologists, poets, teachers, and conservationists, all of whom go beyond the typical cliches and advertising slogans about Alaska to provide an authentic record of a given time and place.’’ Included is a report by Jack London about housekeeping in the Klondike.
Always Getting Ready/Upterrlainarluta: Yup’ik Eskimo Subsistence in Southwest Alaska (1993) by James H. Barker contains interviews and photographs of Yup’ik Eskimos who still make their living on the delta of the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers. (The Yukon River was wellknown to Jack London and is featured in ‘‘To Build a Fire.’’) One interview is from a man who got his arm caught in his snow machine while traveling alone in winter. To survive, he had to amputate his own arm after allowing it to freeze.