Topics for Discussion

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1. Why did Jack London yearn to have adventures?

2. How did Charmian benefit from her marriage to Jack London?

3. Were people right to be angry with London for divorcing Bess and then quickly marrying Charmian?

4. What did London's experiences in the Klondike teach him? How did he put the lessons to work in his career?

5. What did London learn while sailing the South Seas? How did his experiences during the voyage affect his attitudes and behavior?

6. What aspect of London does Dyer believe is the most important for understanding London's life?

7. What role did alcohol play in London's life? How important does Dyer say it was?

8. What does Dyer leave unexplained about London's racism?

9. If London was a racist, should his books be banned? Does his racism show up in his fiction? Why would it not?

10. If, as Dyer contends, London knew that he was dying during the last months of his life, why did London continue working? Why not take a break and rest?

11. How complete is Dyer's depiction of London? Do you feel that you now know him?

12. Taken as a whole, did London lead a good life? Was he a good man?

13. How well does Dyer explain London's attitudes toward writing? What, according to Dyer, were London's principles for writing? How well did London follow his principles in his writings? (You may wish to focus on only one significant work to answer this.)

14. Dyer notes that many legends have grown about Jack London. How well does Dyer separate fact from myth? What about London's actual life would inspire legends? Why would it be important to identify the reality behind the legends?

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