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Before Adam

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  726 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Before Adam is Jack London’s fictional tour de force. In it, he brilliantly recreates the dawn of humanity, depicting the prehistoric world as a place of dark conflict where only the fittest will survive. Tormented by a succession of terrifying dreams, the narrator is faced with the strange truth that his consciousness has become entwined with that of Big-Tooth, his mid-Pl...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by Hesperus Press (first published 1906)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,293)
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Jake
I happened on this one during a browse session at my local used book dealer. Since I remember loving Call of the Wild , this seemed a no-brainer to try. Furthermore, thanks to the first section of Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 , I was also anxious to see another fictional take on prehistoric humans. Both as a Jack London outing, and another dip into literature about prehistoric times, this book paid off.

Before Adam may not be as attractive a story as other Jack London fare. The content reads even more...more
Chris
This was an interesting glimpse into what life was like for primordial man. The story begins with a modern man who is having dreams and nightmares which are of a type so distressing and profound, that they are disabling to his waking life. In these dreams he is embodied in an early evolutive stage of humanity predating homo sapiens—basically a low-intelligence caveman—and through these dreams he relives an entire lifetime of intermittent images and experiences that he later puzzles together into...more
John Montagne
Paleoliterature (some call prehistoric Lit.) at its finest. It remains vague enough to label some of the humanoids, whether they be australopithecus, Cro-Magnon or other unidentified precursor race. Yet defines them enough to get a real sense of 'humans' of the past. Granted, these species did not co-exist (as far as evidence is concerned at this time), but it in no way detracts from the story's historical value. The vehicle used as a transit to the past is interesting, the main character dreams...more
Clark Smeltzer
Hesperus Press is a godsend for those looking to find out of print or not so popular titles from major authors. This is one of two Jack London titles I have read from them-the other being "The Red Plague." Read the synopsis (for the Red Plague) and one might assume that Cormac McCarthy gave it a read before writing "The Road." The only problem I have with Hesperus is that they often set a publication date for a particular title and then don't actually publish the title. Can be frustrating. Anyho...more
Charles
I have an earlier edition. Not one of London's best but it is pretty decent.
Chris
I've always loved London for his naturalistic adventure writing; here, he's applied that to the prehistoric age, the Pleistocene in specific, a time when three separate groups of humanoids exist. First are the Tree People, arboreal humanoids closer to savage apes. Next are the Cave People (the “Folk”), a race on the verge of culture, living both in trees and cave shelters, developing the seeds of language and tools. Last are the Fire People, who have yet to master domestication but whose tools i...more
Shaun
This is a short, but sweet, Jack London work.

London is primarily known for Call of the Wild, White Fang and The Sea Wolf, which on one level can be read as adventure stories for children, but they resonate on much deeper levels. Before Adam is a science fiction novel, for lack of a better term, and it too can be read as an adventure story, but again, to do so slights London's talents.

London is dealing with some heavy themes here: the cold and callous nature of evolution, and the ideas of racial...more
Johnny Waco
This is the grandaddy of prehistoric fiction, with a much tougher edge than later novels that cover similar territory, such as Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear. A young man realizes that the vivid, interlocking dreams that have terrified him since childhood are actually racial memories from a proto-human ape-like species that had advanced to living in caves, communicating with a few rudimentary words, and living in monogamous "marriages." In most ways however, it is still a world "red in tooth and c...more
Michelle
Read this in elementary and re-read it in high school. Lent it to someone, and never saw it again. Forgot about it until I went on a field trip on Amtrak (picked up train at Jack London Square), and the parents/teachers/chaperones were discussing our favorite London stories. This was my first pick, and I was quite surprised no one, not even the teachers, had heard of it. OK, I think the teacher who was there at the time had heard of it (not sure if the others were there at that moment, so no fai...more
Gregory Milliron
An enjoyable and brief book. I would have been interested in a little more development at the end, but it could have gone too far. A risky subject to be fictionalized at such a time. I am embarrassed to say that I have never read a Jack London book. I will probably look into the better known novels, later.
Sharon
Jack takes us back till we still lived in the trees, and his hero had to fight an even more primitive member of the tribe. Jack London's tales are ageless. He just plain tells great yarns.

Reccommend it highly to anyone who like adventure.
Ecce
İnsansı kimliğimizin sirk hayvanların ki gibi yitirilmesine göz yuman, bunlara çanak tutan ve görmezlikten gelen, para verip eğlencesine ortak olan içinde yaşadığımız hayatla yazar bir benzerlik kurar.
Ana
I enjoyed the story and while it may not have been as researched as The Clan of the Cave Bear, it certainly seemed much more plausible. I did not particularly care for the premise, that he has lived this primitive life in his dreams. I don't know enough about early man to know how reasonable the story is, though I'm not sure that even those who study it can really say whether or not this story could have happened.

I read it through Project Gutenberg, excellent source for books!
Last Ranger

In The Forest Primeval---.

Suppose you were having dreams of a previous life. Not just from someone who lived a generation or two ago, but an ancestor that lived thousands of years ago and who was not human. Written by Jack London in the early days of the 20th century, Before Adam was first published 1907 (serialized) in Everybody's Magazine then later, in book form, as a novel. The hero of the story is a modern day man with two personae; in the wake-a-day world the modern man, in the sleeping dr...more
Lemar
Jack London uses his protean intellect and imagination to tell a gripping and thought provoking story once again. There was a flurry of books inspired by acceptance of Evolution in the decades following Darwin's published theory. London sets his tale circa 100,000 BC. The story of the main character is revealed through dreams had by a modern human of what he can only conclude was a life of an ancestor.

This is the first of two instances in which Jack London shows a true science fiction bent in t...more
Irena


Yeap. Jack London. Name sounds catchy, as if I heart it somewhere before. Nope, haven't read anything of him. That's where I left it at, with no intention to read any of his works anytime in the future. Then I was presented with a copy of the book [thankyouthankyouthankyou :D] and it looked like a day's read so why not?

A few pages and I was already sucked in. I loathed sleep because it meant having to continue tomorrow.

Once I was halfway through I earnestly said on the phone: "wow, the langua...more
Indra Barrios Lasso
Reading Jack London’s Before Adam…kind of different from the ones I’d read before (Call of the Wild and White Fang). The first person is something that really attracts me when reading a book or seeing a movie. Seems that I’m really submerged into the story by the hand of the author. This is what Jack London is doing to me now. One of my favorite parts of Before Adam…it is just beautiful! The way he describes the true feeling of being part of the other. A friend. Someone who stands by you no matt...more
Tcpils
Jack London is a terrific writer. As seen with his stories set in the frozen North (Call of the Wild, White Fang, To Build a Fire) he has the ability to write so well in the first person you become more of a participant than observer. Such is the case with Before Adam, a tale of prehistoric life and the fears and frustrations of a society with limited communication.
I think the idea of a modern day narrator was a clever technique. Because Big Tooth did not have the ablity to speak or think in...more
Annette
I was pretty unimpressed by this one. In the main, it is a rather typical fantasy about a group of ape-men struggling to survive against long odds in a hostile environment. But it's wrapped in this pseudo-science of "repressed racial memory" and whatnot that is frankly relatively silly even by modern evolutionary standards. I expect modern evolutionists would also find the simultaneous presence of three separate branches of pre-humans with (in their terms) wildly different physical characteristi...more
Suzan
I am reading much of "The Best of Jack London". This is the first in the series. Jack London was one of my father's much mentioned authors. Perhaps because of the Yukon connecctions. My grandfather was born in the Yukon Territory. In the middle of December, on a gold mine claim. But then, that is another story... So, I am now reading Jack London.

"Before Adam" was my first foray into London. It is a facinating book, delving into prehistoric man. Exploring prehistorics memories via the artifice o...more
drew
Not J London's best work, but at least it is short and full of adventure. The premise is a bit absurd (modern day man dreams of his past life as a cro-magnun, essentially), but it is interesting enough to keep you going.
Baur Negmetzhanov
Почему до сих пор эту повесть никто не добавлял в пособие для доп. чтения по предмету общей биологии? В очень интересном стиле описывается эволюция человекообразных обезьян. Ну и как заведено у Джека Лондона, проводятся параллели между людьми и животными. Не совсем в его привычном стиле, но очень интересно. 4 из 5.
Arcadius

Although I'm a big fan of London's Klondyke stories, I wasn't expecting a great deal from this one - just reading it as a curio.

The opening chapters, setting up the tale with a load of bunkum about 'racial memory', weren't encouraging. However, once he gets us back into the Pleistocene, London's exceptional story-telling skills kick in, and he makes a decent stab at depicting both the vagaries of evolution and the mental limitations of his proto-humans. This hardly competes with Golding's The I...more
Carol Giles
Not a review. I just loved it. Plain & simple.
محمد سمير مصباح
رواية بتتخيل شكل الحياة في مرحلة ما قبل التاريخ أو قبل خلق آدم عن طريق أحلام شخص من القرن العشرين .. بيحلم انه شخصية من شخصيات العصر القديم ده وبيعيش حياة بدائية بين قوم (ساكنين الكهوف) ما بين ساكنين الشجر وأهل النار اللي اكتشفوا النار يعني و هينحدر منهم البشر ..

مبسوط اني قرات الرواية دي علي طول بعد قراءتي لنظرية التطور وتلخيص لكتاب أصل الأنواع لداروين ..

الموضوع دا بحثت عنه ع النت ف مقالات وفعلاً مهم .. وفيه أدلة من القرآن بتأكد وجود خلق قبل آدم كانوا علي الأرض ومكانوش من الجن زي ما الناس بتقو...more
Marian Allen
London, using the science current at the time and a rigorous imagination, has created a pre-linguistic hominid society. London frames the story as a modern man's organization and chronological recounting of atavistic dreams he's had since childhood informed by adult study and contemplation. This enables him to communicate between what he imagines as the pre-human thought process and the modern human one. It's brilliantly done. A compelling read. I wish it weren't over.
Dawn Shaw
I read this as a young child, probably under 14. The imagery stayed with me, always. It's a very interesting take on time-travel, evolution, and the universality of emotion. It's a good read, and worth the time spent to read it. Strongly recommend.
Le Matt
A straightforward novella of the life of our pre-homo sapiens progenitors, with a charming and sometimes predictable plot. Certain passages- especially the chase sequences- are redolent of William Golding's Lord of the Flies but without the moral ramifications of the latter, this tale pales in comparison.

I do however appreciate London's insight into 'memory imprints' which explains why we dreamed what we dreamed.

Deb
Go back to the era of evolution being a new idea... back to when survival of the fittest made sense, and death of the weakest in a species was not bad: before technology could save almost every one from an early death. Remember the 1970ish movie about remembering ages past through sensory deprivation? The creator of that movie/story had to have read this book at some time. Before Auel, there was this book.
Sevgi
Maybe it was me who couldn't understand it but I was expecting some 'big' end.. Anyways.. It was okay.. Different perspective towards evolution which is simply-written.
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Jack London was an American novelist, journalist, social-activist and short-story writer whose works deal romantically with elemental struggles for survival. At his peak, he was the highest paid and the most popular of all living writers. Because of early financial difficulties, he was largely self educated past grammar school.

London drew heavily on his life experiences in his writing. He spent ti...more
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