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Before Adam

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,039 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
Written in 1906, "Before Adam" is a bit of a departure from London's other novels. Still an adventure novel, this one revolves around the dreams of a young boy, dreams that involve racial memories and the knowledge of his prior existence as a man-like creature named Big Tooth living in prehistoric times. "These are our ancestors, and their history is our history. Remember ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Aegypan (first published 1906)
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Nov 29, 2009 Jake rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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 mo
Unexpectedly awesome. The entire thing is on libravox, which is how I listened to it. This is technically a work of science fiction, I suppose. Its premised on an idea of "genetic memory" which Im pretty sure is wholly discredited. The narrator has a genetically imprinted memory of his ancestors, particularly one ancestry: A prehuman ape. But its just a premise to get you into the real story. The story of that ape's life. Its fascinating to read a narration of such a life. The ape is born into a ...more
Dec 26, 2008 Charles rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
I have an earlier edition. Not one of London's best but it is pretty decent.
Apr 13, 2015 George rated it really liked it
Αυτή είναι μόλις η δεύτερη επαφή μου με το έργο του μεγάλου Τζακ Λόντον, μετά το Κάλεσμα της Άγριας Φύσης που διάβασα τον Ιανουάριο του 2013. Δεν είναι και τόσο γνωστό βιβλίο όσο άλλα του, είναι όμως πραγματικά πολύ ωραίο και ιδιαίτερα καλογραμμένο, που με αρκετό ρεαλισμό αναδεικνύει έναν κόσμο μακρινό, έναν κόσμο από τον οποίο προερχόμαστε.

Ένας άντρας στη σύγχρονη Αμερική μας περιγράφει τα οράματα του, οράματα ενός πολύ, μα πολύ μακρινού προγόνου του, του Μεγαλοδόντη, που έζησε στην Αφρική στην
Feb 19, 2012 Chris rated it liked it
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
Aug 04, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
John Montagne
Jul 17, 2012 John Montagne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 08, 2013 Shaun rated it it was amazing
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
Clark Smeltzer
Aug 31, 2009 Clark Smeltzer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Just a simple tale of you and me as cavemen and tree-dwellers, with a modern man "remembering" his ancient alter ego, relating his dreamscapes as a proto-human, competing and evolving with the Tree-dwellers and Fire-men. A lovely perfectly executed turn of the century simple story of man's evolution. This illustrated version is totally recommended. Big-Tooth lives! Long live Big-Tooth.

What else? Why am I tempted to add his grinning smile as a favorite after only 240 illustrated pages? One, becau
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
Jun 15, 2013 Michelle added it
Shelves: to-re-read
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
Oct 08, 2015 Sherif rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
رواية جميلة جدا واللي زود جمالها إنها بتستند لأساس علمي ويناقش نظرية التطور بطريقة روائية جميلة وتوضح كيف كان يحدث صراع بين أنواع البشر الأوائل فالأرقي يقضون علي الأدني والبقاء حينئذ للأقوي وكيف أن نوع من الرئيسيات حين يعيش في غير فصيلته يكون وبالا وبلاءا علي هذه الفصيلة ...
الطريقة التي بدأ بها الراوي كتابه هو ما أكسب هذه الرواية متعتها .
Jan 21, 2015 Gökhan rated it it was ok
Öylesine yazılmış bir kitap gibi daha çok farklı kitaplara yönelmekte fayda var diye düşünüyorum.
بسام عبد العزيز
Jan 23, 2015 بسام عبد العزيز rated it did not like it
عندما تحاول أن تكتب بطريقة جديدة فيجب ان يكون هناك مبرر لهذا.. لابد ان تخدم الفكرة الجديدة أحداث الرواية بشكل ما.. و إلا ستكون مجرد حشو فارغ.. و من الأفضل وقتها أن تعود للكتابة بالأسلوب التقليدي..

الكاتب اخترع فكرة .. البطل يحلم بأحداث وقعت له في العصور الحجرية.. و معنه كلمة "وقعت له" إما أن روحه انتقلت عبر الزمن عبر الأجساد. و إما أنه يحمل ذكريات أجداده جينيا.. و في الحالتين فالبطل يتذكر تلك الأحداث اثناء نومه على شكل أحلام..
ثم تبدأ القصة الحقيقة بأن يبدأ البطل في سرد "أحلامه".. او "ذكرياته" في
Marian Allen
May 31, 2011 Marian Allen rated it it was amazing
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.
Gregory Milliron
Aug 04, 2011 Gregory Milliron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 24, 2012 Sharon rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 10, 2012 Ecce added it
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.
Jake Leech
Jan 08, 2015 Jake Leech rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The main problem with this book is that it just so happens to have been written a hundred years ago, which means that the fairly modern theories that London uses as the basis for his story are a little outdated today. I found it pretty easy to suspend my disbelief about the fairly simplified version of human evolution that London uses--tree folk evolving into cave folk evolving into fire folk--but the foundation of the plot in inherited memories was very quaint.

That said, Before Adam also struck
Jan 26, 2016 Ivan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rollicking adventure of pre-historic man told by a master. I haven't read anything by London in years (decades even) and had quite forgotten the urgency and energy of his prose.
Feb 20, 2014 Ana rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
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
Mar 17, 2014 Last Ranger rated it it was amazing

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
Carol Giles
Jul 13, 2014 Carol Giles rated it it was amazing
Not a review. I just loved it. Plain & simple.
Aug 05, 2014 Lemar rated it really liked it
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
Feb 01, 2013 Irena rated it it was amazing

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
Indra Barrios Lasso
Aug 25, 2013 Indra Barrios Lasso rated it liked it
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
Jun 09, 2012 TCPils rated it really liked it
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
Sep 19, 2011 Annette rated it it was ok
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
Oct 22, 2014 Richard rated it really liked it
Shelves: project-2014

An ancestral romp through pre-history, evolution/descent of man, and speculation that there is a generationally-bound genetic passing down of memories/experiences…all in all, a riveting ride with surprisingly accurate bits of science…surprising given a publishing date of 1906…classic Jack London adventure…

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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
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“Here were we, drawn together by mutual rage and the impulse toward cooperation, led off into forgetfulness by the establishment of a rude rhythm.” 1 likes
“As imagination grew it is likely that the fear of death increased until the Folk that were to come projected this fear into the dark and peopled it with spirits.” 1 likes
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