Call Of The Wild, Jack London (Book Review)

Blaise Moten
3 min readOct 28, 2021

The brain fog that the pandemic brought with me prevented me from taking part in the reading challenge my university runs last year. That sucked. I found that I was just… so terribly disorganised throughout last year than I didn’t give myself time to enjoy reading, something which I was determined to fix this year.

So far so bad. I ended up with a coinfection of the upper and lower respiratory tract during weeks 3 and 4 which wiped me out completely and ended up in a trip to A&E. Until then I was no aware that you could get more than one RTI concurrently, but apparently I ended up with laryngitis, tonsillitis, and a chest infection all at the same time! Obviously, the fact I couldn’t even swallow my own spit was more than enough reason to ignore any and all university coursework, which now means that I’m facing an uphill battle over reading week.

But I’m pleased to say that hasn’t stopped me from taking part in the aforementioned reading challenge!

The criteria for September/October was “Banned Books,” which was a long and baffling list. Mankind really will bad books for the most meagre reasons and it’s a shame that that doesn’t surprise me in the slightest anymore. Nevertheless, this lead me to The Call of the Wild, by Jack London.

I’ll admit I’d already read this book many, many, many years previous, probably before I should have been reading books of this sort. But I figured that enough time had elapsed since then that it warranted a reread and I was right, because adult me managed to pick up on a lot more nuances than childhood me, who only cared about a story about a cute dog.

The Call of the Wild was published in 1903, and is essentially Jack London’s masterpiece. Based on his experiences as a gold prospector some decade precious out in the Great White North’s greatest, whitest expanses, the novella documents the trials that a dog by the name of Buck faces. Dognapped from his everyday life in California due to his impressive appearance, Buck is sold as a sled dog and immediately put to work, passing through numerous hands, until he finds himself under the ownership of a man who he grows increadibly close to, John Thornton.

The bottom line is that, while this novella didn’t particularly blow me away with it’s written style, I enjoyed it. Actually, tell a lie, I loved the writing style, *because* it was so simple. I felt it was written in a straightforward, logical way, and I felt that lended itself well to a story written from the prespective of a dog. I have a dog, and while I love her dearly, I can’t fathom that her thoughts would be particularly eloquent. She’s a Beagle who loves nothing more than food and attention, and as smart as she is, she’s hopelessly one-track minded and I doubt she’s ever thinking about anything particularly philosophical.

Anyway, I found myself captivated by the slide from Buck’s life as a somewhat pampered Judge’s dog, to the life of an impoverished sled dog, and forwards again into a wild creature of legend. There’s something pleasing about how gradual and realistic the change in disposition happens, about how earnest and domestic his attempts to integrate are, and how brutal the lessons learned by Buck are. I imagine that great allegories could be made by those more experience than I in the topics of the human race’s lowest moments.

The book also features, what I consider to be one of my favourite book quotes of all time, which I’ll leave you with below. It’s, maybe unfortunately, a quote that I hold dear because of past experiences, because of moments that taught me that the world preys on weakness. Maybe, in a more positive note, it means a case of tenacity and headstrongness, a big f**k you to the world. Either way, I think it’s beautiful and bold:

“So that was the way. No fair play. Once down, that was the end of you. Well, he would see to it that he never went down.”

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Blaise Moten
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German Language student at the University of Reading, former student in Graz and Aarhus.