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Martin Eden

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  28,464 ratings  ·  1,658 reviews
Alternate cover edition of ISBN 9780140187724

The semiautobiographical Martin Eden is the most vital and original character Jack London ever created. Set in San Francisco, this is the story of Martin Eden, an impoverished seaman who pursues, obsessively and aggressively, dreams of education and literary fame. London, dissatisfied with the rewards of his own success, intende
Paperback, 480 pages
Published February 1st 1994 by Penguin (first published September 1909)
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Eladir All books suffer when translated, the degree they suffer depends on the way the book is written and the quality of the translation. In this specific c…moreAll books suffer when translated, the degree they suffer depends on the way the book is written and the quality of the translation. In this specific case, no, I don't think a translation would decrease significantly the experience.(less)

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Ahmad Sharabiani
(757 From 1001 Books) - Martin Eden, Jack London

Martin Eden is a 1909 novel by American author Jack London about a young proletarian autodidact struggling to become a writer.

Living in Oakland at the beginning of the 20th century, Martin Eden struggles to rise above his destitute, proletarian circumstances through an intense and passionate pursuit of self-education, hoping to achieve a place among the literary elite.

His principal motivation is his love for Ruth Morse. Because Eden is a rough, u
Chris Shank
Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I've ever read. A remarkable attempt by Jack London in dissecting a person's evolution of being as they happen upon the path of enlightenment. Martin Edin (M.E.--a hint at the author's identification with the hero?) is a roughneck sailor who is blinded and transformed by the inner and outer beauty of a woman he meets, but this is just the beginning. Looking into her eyes he caught, "glimpses of the soul, and a glimpse of his own too." His former mode of being had co ...more
Simona B
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Of course it was beautiful; but there was something more than beauty in it, something more stingingly splendid which had made beauty its handmaiden."

It is astounding how long it took for me to digest this book -and I say this in nothing but praise. Honestly, it's not like I'm sure the process is completed; I tend to believe the best books are the ones you never wholly digest, the ones that keep nagging at your mind for weeks, months, years, forever, too, if that is what it takes. And the best b
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“limited minds can recognize limitations only in others.”
Jack London ~~ Martin Eden


Jack London's MARTIN EDEN is one of the most fascinating novels I have ever read. It is one of those rare novels where I can identify closely with the main character. It is also one of those books where the reader is hooked from page one and entirely swept up in the the world London Creates.

Set in San Francisco, this semi-autobiographical novel is the story of Martin Eden, a sailor, who pursues ambitiously, drea
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of serious early 20th-century fiction
Recommended to Werner by: A lady in one of my groups whose Internet handle is "martin eden"
In my combination review of The Call of the Wild/White Fang, I made the comment (echoing a common critical axiom) that London. like some other Naturalists, was better at portraying animal characters than human ones. That judgment was based on a prior reading of five of his novels and a number of short stories. But after reading this novel, it's a judgment that has to be substantially revised; there are no animal characters at all here, and his job of characterization is outstanding. To be sure, ...more
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
MARTIN EDEN remains in my top 10 books of all time. Somewhat Dickensian in scope, the character development and social commentary in this book are both amazing. However, it's also a very personal account of a man's rise from intellectual and societal poverty. Few people realize what a masterful writer London was. This is his finest work, IMO. I read this book 19 years ago, and the details still pop into my head from time-to-time. For whatever reasons, MARTIN EDEN really resonated with me. ...more
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
Okay, first I will discuss what I really did like about this book.

Alright, when I first started reading it, I was very touched by the loving connection that the main character (Martin Eden) had with Ruth. It was very sweet, and at times it reminded me of my own relationship with my boyfriend, which made it endearing and all the more special to read. Jack London wrote of how Ruth would feel relieved from her studying at the university to see Martin, and how his presence rejuvenated her and gave h
Gary Inbinder
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sidharth Vardhan
Dec 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 8-usa, list-le-monde
I'm fast becoming Jack London fan. ...more
Sep 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Jack London is one of my all-time favorites as I love the themes in his stories like White Fang, Call of the Wild, and The Sea Wolf. This book, in particular, is interesting on so many levels, but the autobiographical nature is one aspect that always grabs me. What's fascinating is Martin, who is completely disillusioned by the end of the story, chooses suicide - many scholars think Jack London's death was actually suicide as well. Since the novel came first, Martin's decision foreshadows the au ...more
Well, here he was, the great man on board, in the midmost centre of it, sitting at the captain’s right hand, and yet vainly harking back to forecastle and stoke-hole in quest of the Paradise he had lost. He had found no new one, and now he could not find the old one.

Martin Eden is one of the most complex and intellectually challenging books I've ever read. I was in fever while reading it, dying to reach for the culmination of the story like Martin Eden was feverishly grasping for the essence
Jan 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Leslie
Most of Jack London's books are about nature and life in the wild. This is not! It is said to be a semi-autobiographical novel.

The setting is San Francisco at the turn of the 20th century. The central protagonist, Martin Eden, first a working-class seaman, is at twenty now struggling to educate himself and become a writer. He has fallen head-over-heels in love with Ruth Morse. Martin has been invited to her home by her brother because Martin had saved his life. Martin and Ruth are of completely
Apr 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers interested in tales of Artistic Quest, Personal Identity
Recommended to Quo by: Peter O'Toole intderview on Charlie Rose
Martin Eden is a veiled autobiographical slant on Jack London's own artistic quest. It is said that a book can be autobiographical without being an autobiography, something that is very evident with Martin Eden, a work that was followed by John Barleycorn a 2nd but very different & briefer attempt by the author to explain his philosophy of life & his own artistic quest.

The novel is one that positions a poor, struggling Oakland writer from the lower realm of society, very much at odds with the up
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
I found this book annoying, since the main character is so obviously a "Mary Sue": an idealized stand-in for London himself. Oh, the loving descriptions about how smart he is, how capable, how rugged and manly! His broad manly shoulders literally threaten the knicknacks of the idle rich. The women all feel his "too animal-like vigor" as a physical force. Oh, please.

He works hard, educates himself, and through much effort becomes an astounding success. But alas, no one is his intellectual equal,
Anna Chviedaruk
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Rarely do I get to spend my time with a book that's read in just one breath. Well this was the one. Brilliant. Inspiring and then tragic. This was the first book of Jack London that I've read, but, boy, am I amazed at his mastery. The plot is breathtaking, fast, contrasting, absorbent. What a character that Martin Eden! A reader is drawn to his strength, brilliance and lust for life at first, thinking that he/she knows how the story will end. Such books teach us about life, about people's souls ...more
Frank Scozzari
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Martin Eden is essentially an autobiographical piece on Jack London's early years as a struggling writer. Although fictionalized, it mirrors many of the triumphs and tragedies he encountered en route to the top of the literary world . All aspiring young writers should read this book. It reveals the sacrifice, determination, and hard work Jack London committed to his craft. ...more
Mar 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
It’s been a long time since I have read Jack London who has been my first favorite writer with White Fang, The Call of the Wild, the Sea Wolf, The Game and other stories. As a kind of an autobiographical novel, Martin Eden depicts the story of a man who tries to be a writer. The abyss between him and Ruth, the woman he loves, and the society becomes bigger and bigger. It is a novel of loneliness actually and we can understand writers like Jack London, Salinger and many other writers better. The ...more
Sep 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thebooksiown, novel
I read this book pretty late, this summer,at the age of 26, upon a friend's high recommendation.
I always thought it was written with a high passion about the developments of the era. There are books which are able to change your whole view of life when you read them as a teenager, this one is definitely one of them. Thank God I didn't read it back then, because you may feel a bit depressive through the novel when considering the traumatic realization of Martin Eden as he was going to death, that
John Anthony
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Magnificent! both the book and title character. Martin is a man's man and a woman's. Autobiographical. A terrific insight, therefore, into the mind and heart of Jack London, both as a successful author and as a desperately struggling would-be one. Both character and author started in the gutter and fought their way out and into a society to which neither really belonged; the world of the mediocre bourgeoisie.

Yet another book about an Outsider - one with a very big soul.

I read this on Kindle and
Maria Grazia
May 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
MARTIN EDEN by JACK LONDON , whose real name was John Griffith London, is another of those stories that hooked me when I read them first time and it has become part of my literary roots. It’s another of those stories about an extraordinary young person I like reading with / to my students. It’s the story of a young sailor and labourer who has a great dream, to become a part of the wealthy bourgeoisie, to belong to those people who led a high-thinking life.
Inspired by the college-educated societ
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite
This book ruined my life.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The story starts with the first emotional bond with Mart& Ruth. One lover, Martin Eden who is ready to be change himself because of his love. So he starts it with grammar and public decency. Notwithstanding, it has something against to him like insularity, these people were indoctrinating their idea to the others. He decides to begin to writing as unprofessional and at the same time he admits his love to Ruth. Afterwards his misery and desperate life begins. Martin has strong difficulties in his ...more
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
A powerful book. A dynamic working-class man discovers the world of knowledge and culture, falls in love with a girl from this new world, and realizes he has a gift for writing. Although he eventually succeeds after much self-denial one after another his new ideals prove to be disappointments. The portrayal of his dawning consciousness is dazzling. The second half of the book drags somewhat but the tragic ending - which came as more of a surprise than it should have - has the inevitability of a ...more
Dec 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-kindle
I finally made it all the way through this book. If you've read Jack London's Call of the Wild, this book may surprise you.

I'm not sure if it's a polemic against the publishing industry and editors of literary magazines everywere. Maybe it's a criticism of the class structure and how people come to be defined by their success and not their actual work. Or maybe it's a statement that you should never cross out of your class.

Still, though it was tough going at first, I did really enjoy Martin's
Daniel Villines
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
It may have happened like this. Long ago, the creatures that could accept as fact the suggestions of fear were found to outlive and out-reproduce their more scientific brethren. Hence, humans came into being with the ability to believe as fact things unproven or unexplained. We became spiritual beings. We believe in dreams and we imagine what life would be like, if only if.

For any given dream, there is a journey. We set out on a quest towards a vision, but along the way, reality takes its toll.
Nov 09, 2014 added it
Reading this book was like revisiting the past. I had had a childhood attachment to London's adventure novels like the White Fang (I like the canines, you see). However, it was really when I moved to NorCal that I seriously looked into his writing. There was just too much to read at the time, after all I was trying to get an MA in Literature. So, I never got around to read Martin Eden.

I've read this book with a bit of a nostalgia, thinking of the Bay Area. Oakland, Berkeley and all the cool pla
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Probably a bit naive, schematic. But still a great book, a great novel, loved by my father.
Terrific the description of the "hands", distinguishing the different social classes ...
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Almost autobiography of Jack London. The transformation of an uneducated fool to a profound mind. But everything comes at a cost.
I re-read this novel to re-live the feelings that I have felt when I read this book in high school. I read a review of this book in a random magazine that I found somewhere. I thank the person who wrote that review. Because of you, a kid discovered that there is something close to bliss in reading a good book.
Armina Salemi
More than 3, less than four, and salutations Mister Jack London.
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the most powerful books I have ever read. This book should be given to the people at the age of 18-20, and if they see their reflection in Martin, this means they are on the right path; if not - they are hopeless grey zombies of the society. I feel in pain from the fact that the society managed to break the will of such a powerful individual and turn him into a cynic, absolutely apathetic to anything and unwilling to go on with the fight for happiness, which is Life! Yet, no matter how pa ...more
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Jack London was an American novelist, journalist, and social activist. He was also an innovator in the genre that would later become known as science fiction.

His most famous works include The Call of the Wild and White Fang, both set in the Klondike Gold Rush, as well as the short stories "To Build a Fire", "An Odyssey of the North", and "Love of Life". He also wrote about the South Pacific in sto

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190 likes · 103 comments
“But I am I. And I won't subordinate my taste to the unanimous judgment of mankind” 176 likes
“Who are you, Martin Eden? he demanded of himself in the looking-
glass, that night when he got back to his room. He gazed at
himself long and curiously. Who are you? What are you? Where do
you belong? You belong by rights to girls like Lizzie Connolly.
You belong with the legions of toil, with all that is low, and
vulgar, and unbeautiful. You belong with the oxen and the drudges,
in dirty surroundings among smells and stenches. There are the
stale vegetables now. Those potatoes are rotting. Smell them,
damn you, smell them. And yet you dare to open the books, to
listen to beautiful music, to learn to love beautiful paintings, to
speak good English, to think thoughts that none of your own kind
thinks, to tear yourself away from the oxen and the Lizzie
Connollys and to love a pale spirit of a woman who is a million
miles beyond you and who lives in the stars! Who are you? and what
are you? damn you! And are you going to make good?”
More quotes…