JACK: A Biography of Jack London by Andrew Sinclair

JACK: A Biography of Jack London

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In what aspires to be a definitive ""life,"" Sinclair succumbs to the double affliction of London biographers: he oversubscribes to London's largely self-created legend (dauntless adventurer, Socialist champion of the oppressed, natural aristocrat, and superman), and he over-reacts to critics who see London as nature faker, virulent racist, and literary hack. He touches all these aspects of London and more, but with some contortions of special pleading: London's desertion of wife and daughters is an act of courage, his drug addiction a mere case of ""pill pushing,"" his obsession with wolves and the raw game diet that precipitates his death just another ""unadmitted neurosis."" With unrestricted access to London's papers, Sinclair punctures some old balloons (those launched by Irving Stone--per below--and Richard O'Connor) but comes out with little new besides an interminable account of the last long deterioration and a doubt about the suicide. Concentrating on London's life rather than his work, Sinclair concludes that he ""wrenched"" himself into ""a pattern that had vehemence without coherence."" Good enough for life, perhaps, but not for biography--Sinclair, whatever his research and readability, doesn't go beyond the vehement facade to the darker heart of his subject.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1977
Publisher: Harper & Row