Diana's Reviews > The Sea Wolf

The Sea Wolf by Jack London
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Jul 07, 2011

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Read in May, 2009

I've read this book twice - once in high school and most recently, during a trip to Alaska where I wanted to channel London's adventurous spirit. I can't say I loved it either time. While Call of the Wild remains a favorite, I just couldn't get into this book. Perhaps London's writing talent lies in giving dogs the narrative voice?

My main problem with The Sea Wolf is how irritating main character Humphrey is and how predictable his transformation proceeds from laughable nerd to sea-worthy sailor. While Maud is an enjoyable leading lady and more outspoken, braver, and accomplished than the time period probably allowed, I didn't understand her attraction to Hump aside from the fact that they were both basically prisoners on the ship who had literary preferences and some society acquantainces in common.

I was much more interested in Wolf Larsen, and it bothered me when, after developing so much as to be an intellectual equal, he reverts back to his "true, beastly" form by attempting to rape Maud and is eventually broken down physically. He's the villain for sure, so I suppose redemption was not on the agenda, and perhaps his own eventually weak body betraying him was intended as irony. But his flashes of insight felt much more futile once his story comes to a rather pitiful end.

There are, of course, some exciting moments. How could there not be with the drama of a seal-hunting ship with a potentially psychotic captain and all the mutiny potential and escape attempts that ensue? And it's a fairly easy read with some better-than-average philosophical discussions. But I'll stick to Buck and White Fang's stories if I ever feel the need to experience harsh life on the frontier.
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Jackie We should chat about this one while you are here too. I've also read it twice--once in high school and once more about a year ago!


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