The Sea-Wolf
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The Sea-Wolf

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  12,217 ratings  ·  647 reviews
In London's most gripping novel, novelist Humphrey Van Weyden is rescued from the freezing waters of San Francisco Bay by a demonic sea captain and introduced to fates far worse that death. Through this story London recalls his own adventures on a sealing vessel at the age of seventeen.
Hardcover, First Edition, Second State, 366 pages
Published 1904 by Macmillan
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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brian
this has gotta be one of the biggest piece of shit pulpy ridiculous shitshows of a novel. ever. and i freely admit that i love it. yeah, that's right. this is my Valley of the Dolls.

here’s the deal: an effete bookworm gets on a boat that crashes just off the san fransiscan coast and is scooped out of the water and brought onto the seal-hunting Ghost, headed to Japan, and captained by Wolf Larson, the darkest, most demented and brutal guy to walk the planet. this guy makes ahab, kurtz, and bligh...more
Henry Avila
Millionaire Humphrey van Weyden, a bookish gentleman (who reads anymore?), was coming back , from visiting a friend in the East Bay shore. Crossing the waters to San Francisco , again, his ferry collides in the thick fog, with a steamer. Quickly sinking her, the dilettante, can't swim, good thing he has a life preserver on, going overboard, amid piercing cries, in the gloom, drifting in the chilly water, out through the Golden Gate (before the bridge was built). The tides and winds sweeping him...more
Daniel
"We were talking about this yesterday," he said. "I held that life was a ferment, a yeasty something which devoured life that it might live, and that living was merely successful piggishness. Why, if there is anything in supply and demand, life is the cheapest thing in the world. There is only so much water, so much earth, so much air; but the life that is demanding to be born is limitless. Nature is a spendthrift. Look at the fish and their millions of eggs. For that matter, look at you and me.
...more
Jim
I've read quite a few of London's books although it was years ago for most. I've reread a few, but somehow never got to this one. I'm glad I remedied that. Wolf Larsen & Hump are certainly two of the most vivid & interesting characters I've had the pleasure to encounter. The story was all the more intriguing because it explores the meaning & purpose of life through a rousing adventure. London based much of it on a sailing voyage he took to Japan which explains the reality of the sett...more
Allison
Oh my god. This book is...well, it defies description.

At first, I thought "Oh, illegal seal hunting, violence, and poor health conditions on a ship lost in the Bering Sea. What's not to love?" (Note the heavy sarcasm.)

Turns out, all of those things have a very minor role in the story. It is mostly about the learning experiences of a gentleman aboard a brutal ship, and his conversations with the captain, who is a very unusually educated man. I could go on for pages about the discussions that the...more
Martha
This has got to be one of my all-time favorite novels. I've read it over and over and over :) Jack London (an atheist to the chore) is one of our great, American authors. His story is extremely gripping and intense, while he weaves throughout the story-line his thoughts of God vs. Atheism. The protagonist (the Christian) and the antagonist (the Atheist) are frequently involved in debates about right vs. wrong, design vs. accident, and God vs. evolution. Jack London does not, however, endorse eit...more
Wanda
Aug 09, 2014 Wanda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wanda by: Dagny, Karen, Cheryl
31 JUL 2014 -- will start this one on Saturday, 2 AUG. Tomorrow, 1 AUG, is a day off from work and I will also give a listen-to Eugenie Grandet on BBC Radio 4X. So, the Sea-Wolf and I will sail together on Saturday. See you Saturday Sea-Wolf.

2 AUG 2014 -- Chap. 5. The Sea-Wolf is a nasty piece of cod. He is bossy and overbearing. A bully personality is his way of life. A man who dearly needs a major time-out. Another baby-man.

3 AUG 2014 -- Chap. 8. "Sometimes I think Wolf Larsen mad, or half-m...more
Joe
Jul 09, 2007 Joe rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Manly Men Doing Manly Things
Anyone who needs a good shot of testosterone but thinks the movie 300 was a little to homo-erotic should read the Sea Wolf. This book makes Hemmingway run off like a little girly man. The main character is a woosy book-worm literary critic who gets press-ganged into a sealing crew led by the cruel and rutheless Wolf Larsson. Larsson is one of the greatest villians I've had the pleasure to read--he's intelligent and brutal, but at times you even sympathize with him.
By the way, I especially sugges...more
Sketchbook
A breathless, over-the-top "Pop" adventure. Based on
Jack London's travels (sensitive sissy confronts beastie
schooner captain), it presents in technicolor the author's
double vision of himself. Between wrenching physical
jousts, the duelists quote Swinburne, Milton & Omar Khyyam.
For the Douglas Sirk finale there's a mermaid from
Boston. "My man," sighs she, offering her lips to the newly
muscled chappy after his captivity. The Darwinian
seafaring manners: bitchin' & butch.
Andy Kahl
This is another of my book club (The Irregulars) picks, and one I'd put in the win column. Our discussion of the book pointed out that the men generally liked the first part better and the women liked the second part better. Me, I liked both. I enjoyed the philosophical discussions in the first half, and the sheer audacity of Wolf Larson. But I also enjoyed the second half with the introduction of the Maud character. Call me a sappy romantic, but that "please, please" thing just strummed my hear...more
Kris
Jun 06, 2013 Kris rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sadists
Shelves: own-it
How many ways did I loathe this book? Well, first there was the constant theme that in order to be a "real man" (I'll save discussion of women for later) that one had to work with his hands, and had to brave the elements, and laugh in the face of danger, and be cruel, sadistic and amoral, and that these are all things to be admired! Oh, and don't forget that you have to have the body of a Greek god and a a self-taught intellect that is only used to back up one's own views, not to explore other v...more
Tlnorz
This is my favorite Jack London novel. It is a straightforward story of action and adventure but is also a book that, when peeled back, has a lot to say about the basic nature of man.

The protagonist, Humphrey Van Weyden, is the ultimate moral/altruistic man. But, he is also an inexperienced man, having lived the sheltered life of an aristocrat in San Francisco. His world view is one of theory only.

The antagonist, Wolf Larson (one of the best villians of all time), is captain of the seal hunting...more
Dorcas
This was my absolute favorite "desert isle " book choice as a teenager. I absolutely adored it .Which is a bit unusual, I know. But there you have it. I cant tell you how many times Ive read this.

Basically, the hero Humphrey "Hump" is tossed overboard during a storm at sea and picked up by a passing sealer ship captained by the infamous "Wolf Larssen ". Wolf has no intention of carrying Hump to his destination. He can become one of the crew and tow the line or he can be eaten by the fishes. His...more
Lisa N
This is a great read on many levels. It’s an enjoyable sea adventure--Fishing two different shipwrecked victims out of the sea would normally have seemed a little farfetched to me, except I also happened to be reading a true account of Violet Jessop, who personally survived 3 shipwrecks in the early 1900s, one of which was the Titanic.

It’s noteworthy from a literary perspective. London is part of the Naturalism movement in American literature. He is exceptional at depicting primal man and explor...more
Frederick Bingham
I listened to this on cassette. Story read by Frank Muller, who did a great job.Not high literature but a rollicking good story. This book is about Humphrey van Weydon. Set in ~1904, Van Weydon is a society dandy who is crossing San Francisco Bay one day on a ferry in the fog. Suddenly, a ship appears out of the fog and crushes the ferry. 'Hump' manages to get on a life jacket before the ferry sinks, but is swept out through the Golden Gate. After hours of drifting he is picked up by a sealing s...more
Cynthia
OK I didn't get crazy and expect monkeys to appear in "The Sea Wolf" but London could have at least thrown in a parrot or two! I'm stalled at chapter 12. I'm not sure what it is but I'm not enjoying it very much. It makes me worry that I've been reading so much current lit that I've lost my love for 19th century books.
Raya Ka'abneh
كم هي راااائعة!!!
في البداية لم أتوقع أن تكون بهذه الروعة..
حياة البحر والصيادين والقبطان..
القبطان الشرير وولف لارسن الذئب ، القبطان المتوحش قبطان سفينة الشبح المتغطرس الذي لا يعرف الرحمة..
فان ويندن وفلسفته وتحديه للارسن ونجاته مع حبيبته مود...
رااائعة
Michelle
Wolf Larsen is unforgettable, and even though his actions horrified me, his charisma and brilliance drew me in to the point that I believed him to be a co-protagonist until the book was nearly over. I loved the nautical setting for a conflict between moral idealism and amoral materialism. This is one to read again, looking for symbols in the action of the water and what is going on onboard. The true protagonist Humphrey Van Weyden is barely likable enough to root for, but what he believes in and...more
Hayley
A literary critic who believes in human morality and the soul ends up captive on a sealing ship run by a captain who is part genius and part beast. This captain, Wolf Larsen, is often compared to Lucifer for his primitive, alpha glory.

By exposure to this man, protagonist Humphrey Van Weyden mans up.

For being written in 1904, this book is easy to understand, follow and enjoy.

It's a nice mix of philosophy, violence, and (to tease my friend Kris) indomitable human spirit. Its themes of Godly vs....more
Becky
*WARNING-THIS IS ONE BAD ASS, BAD GUY!*

And I absolutely loved it!

Humphrey Van Weyden is a 35 year old bookish man who has never had to stand on his own two feet. He almost drowns when the boat he is on collides with another in the San Francisco Bay, but he is soon rescued by the Ghost and its captain Wolf Larsen - THE BAD ASS, BAD GUY! Wolf is a Darwinian philosopher of sorts who has taken survival of the fittest to the extreme with his raw, wolf-like savageness. And this savageness, OH YES THI...more
Carol
Humphrey Van Weyden, educated gentleman and writer is riding on a ferry Martinez in the San Francisco fog. But the Martinez is doomed as it is rammed by a schooner and sinks. Van Weyden is no swimmer and barely stays afloat with a life preserver. At last he is saved by the crew of a sailing vessel, but his salvation is a prison sentence. He is a now a captive on “The Ghost”, run by Captain Wolf Larsen. Larsen is a brute, a demon that pleasures in beating his men at the slightest infraction. Phys...more
Thom Swennes
“Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven” is the perfect philosophy of Captain Wolf Larson of the seal hunting schooner Ghost. Shipwrecked, Humphrey (Hump) Weyden is picked up by the Ghost. Although within a few hours of San Francisco Bay, the captain refuses to turn landward and Hump is pressed into service. One would assume that a story that begins with a shipwreck could only go up. Nothing else could be true; the tale plunges the reader into a world of helplessness and despair. The Ghost...more
Brian
Not a review, more of a 'trailer' or recommendation for the book including a key passage.

The Sea-Wolf is a powerfully written and masculine novel. Gripped me from within the first chapter, and kept me hooked to the end. The protagonist and narrator has been ship-wrecked and picked up, half-drowned, by a schooner headed to sealing grounds for seal hunting season. The captain of the ship, Wolf Larsen, rather than offering to find a way to get the young gentleman back to port, impresses him into hi...more
Katie
Before reading The Sea Wolf, I heard a quote from the book that really piqued my interest and later prompted me to give it a try:
“But, – and there it is, – we want to live and move, though we have no reason to, because it happens that it is the nature of life to live and move, to want to live and move. If it were not for this, life would be dead. It is because of this life that is in you that you dream of your immortality.” – Wolf Larsen. From The Sea-Wolf, by Jack London.

This quote is like man...more
Maisie Chalk
Bleagh. I really had to force myself to get through this book. I was rejoicing every time I got to the end of a chapter.

At the start of the novel I really enjoyed the conversations between Humphrey and Wolf, as they sound a lot like the conversations I have in my own head when I'm thinking about the value and meaning of life (that's the kind of deep person I am you see). But these conversations quickly become extremely repetitive and it takes a long time for the plot to progress. Chapters go pa...more
Roderick Hart
On the strength of his previous titles, the first printing of this book was sold out before it hit the shelves. It is narrated by Humphrey van Weyden, a literary critic aged thirty-five. The vessel on which he is travelling is holed by a collision in thick fog and he is picked up by a schooner, The Ghost, captained by Wolf Larsen, the sea-wolf of the title. The Ghost is a sealing ship which sails to the coast of Japan with a group of seal hunters, none of whom are pleasant and all of whom are ex...more
Lena Hillbrand
Jul 03, 2011 Lena Hillbrand rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of adventure and literary fiction
Shelves: book-club, classics
This book remindedd me of a more adult version of Treasure Island.

For the first part of the book, all I could think about was how the protagonist was so obviously GAY! Not since Twilight have I read a book that gushed so lavishly on the amazing, perfect, sculptured pecs of a man! And the protagonist was called "sissy" his whole life... He is thin, and neat, and a writer... and just plain feminine. Plus, he was always caught drooling over Wolf on every other page, forgetting to work b/c he was c...more
Michael
When I picked up the audiobook (read by Dick Hill), I was expecting a tale of sea adventures. Perhaps something like Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped or Treasure Island. Yes, it's an adventure tale, but it's much more. The novel explores the big questions through the philosophical conversations between the Captain Wolf Larsen (a Nietzschean superman, materialist, and man of terrific strength) and Humphrey van Weyden (an effete, bookish, man of morals). Ambrose Bierce is right when he wrote: "T...more
Miles
This is a fun book that delightfully straddles the line between adventure story and philosophical novel. Its many similarities with Conrad's Heart of Darkness reminded me pleasantly of the fascinating intellectual discussion that was happening in Western intellectual life as the 19th century came to a close. Thinkers from all disciplines were reeling from the influence of Darwin's theory of natural selection, and many tried to appropriate the concept to justify their particular worldview. Others...more
Dylan
The Sea Wolf
Jack London
by; Dylan Donnell
The Sea Wolf Is a book about a man named Humphrey who was on a Cruse ship in the SanDiego Bay. He is going on a business trip and it was really foggy so they could not see. Then out of nowhere a big shipping ship came out of nowhere and hit them. As they where sinking Humphrey remembers he yelled and screamed like the woman on board. The next thing he knew he was of the boat swimming. he said he felt like it must have been hours before a seal hunting...more
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1240
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
More about Jack London...
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“Why, if there is anything in supply and demand, life is the cheapest thing in the world. There is only so much water, so much earth, so much air; but the life that is demanding to be born is limitless. Nature is a spendthrift. Look at the fish and their millions of eggs. For that matter, look at you and me. In our loins are the possibilities of millions of lives. Could we but find time and opportunity and utilize the last bit and every bit of the unborn life that is in us, we could become the fathers of nations and populate continents. Life? Bah! It has no value. Of cheap things it is the cheapest. Everywhere it goes begging. Nature spills it out with a lavish hand. Where there is room for one life, she sows a thousand lives, and it's life eats life till the strongest and most piggish life is left.” 59 likes
“But, – and there it is, – we want to live and move, though we have no reason to, because it happens that it is the nature of life to live and move, to want to live and move. If it were not for this, life would be dead. It is because of this life that is in you that you dream of your immortality.” 34 likes
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