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Classics Illustrated Deluxe #11: The Sea-Wolf

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Classics Illustrated Deluxe #11: The Sea-Wolf When the intellectual Humphrey van Weyden is lost at sea and rescued by Captain Wolf Larsen, he thinks he's been saved, but his troubles have just begun. Forced into a brutal life of hard labor and bare knuckle brawling aboard the seal-hunting schooner, Ghost, van Weyden must learn how to survive as quickly as he can. After a Classics Illustrated Deluxe #11: The Sea-Wolf When the intellectual Humphrey van Weyden is lost at sea and rescued by Captain Wolf Larsen, he thinks he's been saved, but his troubles have just begun. Forced into a brutal life of hard labor and bare knuckle brawling aboard the seal-hunting schooner, Ghost, van Weyden must learn how to survive as quickly as he can. After a botched mutiny leaves van Weyden in danger and his soul in the balance, only the love of the beautiful castaway Maud Brewster can keep him tethered to the world he once knew. A new life is on the horizon for the brave couple, but Wolf Larsen is still at large . . . Jack London's classic adventure is lavishly illustrated by Riff Reb's in this thrilling graphic novel for the ages!


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Classics Illustrated Deluxe #11: The Sea-Wolf When the intellectual Humphrey van Weyden is lost at sea and rescued by Captain Wolf Larsen, he thinks he's been saved, but his troubles have just begun. Forced into a brutal life of hard labor and bare knuckle brawling aboard the seal-hunting schooner, Ghost, van Weyden must learn how to survive as quickly as he can. After a Classics Illustrated Deluxe #11: The Sea-Wolf When the intellectual Humphrey van Weyden is lost at sea and rescued by Captain Wolf Larsen, he thinks he's been saved, but his troubles have just begun. Forced into a brutal life of hard labor and bare knuckle brawling aboard the seal-hunting schooner, Ghost, van Weyden must learn how to survive as quickly as he can. After a botched mutiny leaves van Weyden in danger and his soul in the balance, only the love of the beautiful castaway Maud Brewster can keep him tethered to the world he once knew. A new life is on the horizon for the brave couple, but Wolf Larsen is still at large . . . Jack London's classic adventure is lavishly illustrated by Riff Reb's in this thrilling graphic novel for the ages!

30 review for Classics Illustrated Deluxe #11: The Sea-Wolf

  1. 4 out of 5

    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. heres 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 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 look like merril fucking stubing. no shit. and he’s got a brother named Death! Death Larson! and Wolf Larson! i mean, c'mon. (Death Larson: "…golden bearded like a sea-king… six feet eight or nine inches in stature – 240 pounds. And there was no fat on him. It was all bone and muscle.") our faithful narrator, one – wait for it, wait for it – ‘Hump’ Van Weydon describes Wolf as "not immoral. merely unmoral." forget leopold, loeb, or raskalnikov: Wolf Larson is the true nietzschean superman. here’s a typical bit of dialogue that Wolf happily spews while observing one of his crewmen: Look at him, Hump. Look at this bit of animated dust, this aggregation of matter that moves and breathes and defies me and thoroughly believes itself to be compounded of something good; that is impressed with certain fictions such as righteousness and honesty… in another scene, to more fully express the idea that the human animal can never fully accept death even if the intellect believes it has, Wolf strangles Hump into unconsciousness while waxing philosophic on the old body/mind dialectic... purty cool. through the course of the book, Wolf Larson beats the shit out of multiple men at once, climbs a ladder with attackers hanging off his arms back and legs, he beats the crap out of Hump, Johnson, Leach, Johanson, Cooky, and, yes, even Death Larson. he beats up a shark. yes. a shark. after tossing Mugridge overboard, Wolf spies a shark fin, and with a single arm he hoists Mugridge out – the sharks leaps out of the water and bites off Mugridge’s foot! naturally, while the crew scrambles for a tourniquet, Wolf’s gotta teach the shark a lesson. later on, Wolf tries to set himself on fire, laughs when knives are thrown at him, and, finally, he fully enjoys it as his brain slowly shuts down. yeah, you read that right. unfortunately, the book gets kind of good (y'know, really good. not, like, gloriously deranged good) at the end when Hump, Maud Brewster (the fast-talking NYC poetess), and Wolf get shipwrecked on a tiny island inhabited by angry seals and some kind of mysterious neurological condition shuts down Wolf’s body bit by bit eventually reducing him to a blind, deaf, mute, quadriplegic who conveys his profound and nihilistic joy at the universe's ultimate 'fuck you' by flashing a crooked smile and tapping messages out with a single finger. you really gotta read this shit to believe it. it’s fucking great. it’s the book that Uma Thurman’s character in Sweet and Lowdown would have written. it's the book i wish i'd written. and i gotta profess a deep love for jack london. multiple novels about dogs? and now this? fuck yes, man. you are my hero. i spent this past new year's at london’s favorite bar, The First and Last Chance Saloon (named such as it’s right on the water: the sailor’s first chance to get drunk upon arrival and last chance upon departure), the very bar where jack london wrote The Sea Wolf. explains a lot. he must’ve been shitfaced when he wrote this madhouse. absofuckinglutely. well, don't know if i wanna give this five stars or one star, so i'll be a total pussy and give it three.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Sea Wolf, Jack London The Sea-Wolf is a 1904 psychological adventure novel by American novelist Jack London. The book's protagonist, Humphrey van Weyden, is a literary critic who is a survivor of an ocean collision and who comes under the dominance of Wolf Larsen, the powerful and amoral sea captain who rescues him. Its first printing of forty thousand copies was immediately sold out before publication on the strength of London's previous The Call of the Wild.... تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هشتم The Sea Wolf, Jack London The Sea-Wolf is a 1904 psychological adventure novel by American novelist Jack London. The book's protagonist, Humphrey van Weyden, is a literary critic who is a survivor of an ocean collision and who comes under the dominance of Wolf Larsen, the powerful and amoral sea captain who rescues him. Its first printing of forty thousand copies was immediately sold out before publication on the strength of London's previous The Call of the Wild.... تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هشتم ماه جولای سال 1972 میلادی عنوان: گرگ دريا ؛ نویسنده: جک لندن؛ مترجم: جواد پیمان؛ تهران، فرانکلین، 1339، چاپ دیگر: در سال 1345؛ در 415 ص؛ چاپ بعدی در 320 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، کانون معرفت، در 280 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، علمی فرهنگی؛ 1394؛ در 378 ص؛ شابک: 9786001215490؛ موضوع: داستنهای نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 19 م مترجم: علیرضا یاوری؛ تهران، ؟، ؟؛ در 36 ص؛ مترجم: فریدون حاجتی؛ تهران، آرمان، 1362؛ در 264 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: آرمان دبیر، 1370، در 144 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، دبیر اکباتان، 1386؛ چاپ بعدی 1387؛ در 148 ص؛ شابک: 9789645967183؛ چاپ دیگر: 1388؛ شابک: 9789642621859؛ مترجم: ع. دیبائی؛ تهران، دنیای کتاب، 13؛ در 212 ص؛ مترجم: مهرداد مهرین؛ تهران، توسن، 1371؛ در 259 ص؛ گرگ دریا، رمانی اثر: جک لندن، نویسنده ی آمریکایی است، که در سال 1904 میلادی منتشر شد، و به سرعت با استقبال خوانشگران روبرو شد. جک لندن در این رمان، داستان روشنفکری به نام: «هامفری وان ویدن» را بیان می‌کند؛ که بر اثر غرق کشتی، اسیر گروهی ملوان خشن، به سرپرستی شخصی به نام: «ولف لارسن» می‌شود؛ که او را با کشتی خود به دریاهای دوردست می‌برند. ولف لارسن مردی ست بی‌ اخلاق، و خشن، که قدرت بدنی دارد، و در عین حال (همانند خود جک لندن) خودآموخته است، و کتاب‌های بسیاری خوانده است. داستان با ورود زنی به نام: «ماد بروستر»، که شاعر مشهوری ست صورت دیگری بخود می‌گیرد، و هامفری که عاشق «ماد» شده ،در جزیره‌ ای دورافتاده، با همکاری او، از پس ولف برمی‌آید. جک لندن در این رمان به: ابرانسان نیچه نظر داشته، و در داستان به بزرگان عرصه ی ادب و اندیشه، مانند: هربرت اسپنسر، عمر خیام، هیپولیت تن، شکسپیر، و جان میلتون، اشاره دارد. کتاب پر است از واژه های دریانوردی. ... ا. شربیانی

  3. 5 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    Millionaire Humphrey van Weyden a bookish gentleman, (who reads anymore) was coming back from visiting a close friend in the East Bay shore. Crossing the waters to San Francisco , again, his ferry boat 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 waters out through the Golden Gate (before the bridge was built). The tides and winds sweeping Millionaire Humphrey van Weyden a bookish gentleman, (who reads anymore) was coming back from visiting a close friend in the East Bay shore. Crossing the waters to San Francisco , again, his ferry boat 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 waters out through the Golden Gate (before the bridge was built). The tides and winds sweeping him to the open sea, rescue vessels can't see Mr.Weyden in the "pea soup", nobody around him yet a quiet calm prevails. It makes the survivor, very distraught knowing the end is near, he screams futility into the darkness despairingly and slowly going insane. Numbness through his whole body, as time goes by but how much, elapses?.. Sleep takes the victim into another world , but he awakes and sees a three masted schooner heading directly at the lonely man . Barely missing his skull, watching the uncaring boat pass by helpless to shout out, Humphrey dead tired has no voice left, too much seawater consumed. Captain Wolf Larsen spots the tiny object in the ocean, brought on board later thinking, was this good or bad? Asking to be taken back to the city the captain of the" Ghost," refuses, he's heading for Japan this is a seal-hunting schooner not a pleasure cruise. Owner , captain, tyrant, his word rules... the twenty seamen hate him with a passion, they the worst of the scum, criminals, killers, thieves on any sea. But are afraid more of the Wolf, he has killed many... making the wealthy man a cabin boy at 35, working in the galley with the slimy, dirty, filthy, disgusting "Cooky" and he's the cook! Treating the millionaire like a lowly slave, the vicious chef delights in tormenting Weyden, whose choice is work or die. Survival of the fittest Wolf Larsen believes that, a very strange combination of intellect and brute strength, discussing philosophy and literature (life is valueless, except to itself). With the newest crewman "Hump", between terrorizing everyone on the vessel and putting down a deadly mutiny, the captain has a brother too. "Death" Larsen, arch- rival on another seal-hunting steamer, owner, skipper, of the well armed, larger, "Macedonia" and in the area. Trouble is coming, the ocean is vast but the seals are in the same place, they the siblings hate each other with enthusiasm. The seals blood flows freely on deck, as the beautiful animals are butchered for their skins, why ? For women's coats, Humphrey has to somehow escape this hell hole. Leaving the Ghost is not easy, if he stays the primitive Wolf Larsen will kill him someday. Complications arrive, five people are rescued off the stormy coast of Japan shipwrecked, four are immediately made crewmen whether they want to be or not. There have been losses on the "Ghost", one is a woman...Maud Brewster a poetess this is 1904, the lonely gentleman has read her poems and enjoyed them. He starts to fall in love, and he a part- time literary critic and reviewer of her work in magazines....One of the best Jack London novels full of terrific adventures and excitement, with splendid characters, especially the unforgettable Wolf Larsen.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I believe that life is a mess, [Captain Wolf Larson] answered promptly. It is like yeast, a ferment, a thing that moves and may move for a minute, an hour, a year, or a hundred years, but that in the end will cease to move. The big eat the little that they may continue to move, the strong eat the weak that they may retain their strength. The lucky eat the most and move the longest, that is all - Jack London, The Sea-Wolf This is just like Moby Dick, if Moby Dick had been written by Hemingway. That “‘I believe that life is a mess,’ [Captain Wolf Larson] answered promptly. ‘It is like yeast, a ferment, a thing that moves and may move for a minute, an hour, a year, or a hundred years, but that in the end will cease to move. The big eat the little that they may continue to move, the strong eat the weak that they may retain their strength. The lucky eat the most and move the longest, that is all…’” - Jack London, The Sea-Wolf This is just like Moby Dick, if Moby Dick had been written by Hemingway. That’s a good thing. Of all the classics I’ve read, sometimes grudgingly, Moby Dick frustrated me the most. I like everything about it, in theory. It is epic in scope, big in ideas, and populated by fascinating characters. It has whales, and ships, and tyrannical captains, and harpoons, which are some pretty good ingredients, if you ask me. But I despised it. Turns out, I should have been reading The Sea-Wolf instead. There are some differences, of course. Both have ships, but in The Sea-Wolf you substitute seals for whales, and rifles for harpoons. Also, where Moby Dick is bloated and obscure, The Sea-Wolf is blunt, pared-down, and direct. It is a flint-hard epic told in a lean, mean 281 pages (in my Modern Library paperback edition). I’ve often found that reading an alleged “classic” means that I’m in for an intellectual struggle. Not here. The Sea-Wolf reads like a modern page-turner. London does not mess around with long setups. The novel starts with Humphrey Van Weyden – a doughy, soft-handed trust-fund lad with literary aspirations – on the deck of a ferry in San Francisco Bay, espousing his unearned opinions about the mathematical ease of seamanship. Before he can finish that thought, and before the end of the fourth full page, that ferry has been sliced open in a collision with a second ship, dumping Humphrey into the sea. Humphrey, a proto-metrosexual, is picked up by a sealing schooner called the Ghost. The Ghost is captained by one of literature’s great creations, Captain Wolf Larson. Larson is a stunning character, by turns brutal and brilliant, part psychopath and part poet. He is described in almost otherworldly terms by Humphrey, who is the novel’s first person narrator: [M]y first impression, or feel of the man, was not of [his height], but of his strength. And yet, while he was of massive build, with broad shoulders and deep chest, I could not characterize his strength as massive. It was what might be termed a sinewy, knotty strength, of the kind we ascribe to lean and wiry men, but which, in him, because of his heavy build, partook more of the enlarged gorilla order. Not that in appearance he seemed in the least gorilla-like. What I am striving to express is this strength itself, more as a thing apart from his physical semblance. It was a strength we are wont to associate with things primitive, with wild animals, and the creatures we imagine our tree-dwelling prototypes to have been – a strength savage, ferocious, alive in itself, the essence of life in that it is the potency of motion, the elemental in short, that which writhes in the body of a snake when the head is cut off, and the snake, as a snake, is dead, or which lingers in a shapeless lump of turtle-meat and recoils and quivers from the prod of a finger. For the bulk of the novel, up until a plot turn that I will not reveal, the narrative is rather episodic. Scenes of action and acclimation (where Humphrey begins to transform into that which he detests) are interspersed with a dialectic between Humphrey and Larson. The two men are philosophical opposites, with Humphrey representing a familiar strand of liberal humanism, concerned with goodness, right action, and the immortal soul. In opposition, Larson is a kind of Nietzschean narcissist, concerned only with himself and achieving his own ends, whatever the cost to others. Humphrey is initially appalled by Larson, a stance he attempts to maintain even as he nurtures a near-obsession with understanding him. Of course, as you might expect, Humphrey is drawn to certain aspects of Larson’s being. Specifically, he starts to reevaluate himself as he grows harder, stronger, a competent seaman, while toiling on the Ghost. This is, in a way, simultaneously a celebration and a deconstruction of masculinity. The Sea-Wolf is really a joy to read. The secondary characters are mostly excellent, if a bit shallow. There are some memorable dramatic set pieces featuring men against nature, and men against other men. The writing is vivid, especially the descriptions of the sea, of storms and squalls and dead calms. London is also quite adept at capturing the functioning of a turn-of-the-century sailing vessel. He was once on a vessel like the Ghost, and that experience shows. I am often leery of books that attempt to have characters debate the deeper meanings of life. When I read them, I feel like I’ve stumbled into a room full of half-baked freshmen who’ve finished half a semester of Philosophy 101. The Sea Wolf has a tendency to get close to this threshold with the interactions between Humphrey and Wolf. Ultimately, though, it wears its philosophical and psychological complexity lightly. I could swallow their endless debates because they were sweetened by scenes of dash and excitement, while their competing theories were demonstrated with instances of primal brutality. In other words, London does a good job of showing and telling, rather than just telling. He is also almost giddy in the way he mixes genres and changes tones. One moment things are super dark, the next, things might be as light and delicate as new-fallen snow. And yes, I know I'm speaking in riddles, but I don't want to ruin any surprises. This is an imperfect novel. While the relationship between Humphrey and Wolf Larson is mesmerizing, a separate pairing later on does not work nearly so well. Even when there are false notes, though, London keeps the tale afloat. His world – of sailors and their ship and the sea – is so fully realized that it makes up for many, if not all shortcomings. Besides, at less than 300 pages, the kind of imperfections I’m talking about are not fatal. I cannot say the same for the imperfections of Moby Dick. Classics can be a chore. Not this one. This is like eating a candy bar and calling it exercise.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    This classic adventure on the high seas, made into a miniseries in 2009 in the city of Halifax where I live (finally some great films being made around here!), this book is full of terror, confusion and mayhem as a man fights for survival with a ruthless sailboat captain and his unruly crew, but ultimately they make peace with him and what unfolds is one of what I think is Jack London's best works.

  6. 4 out of 5

    BrokenTune

    Do you know the only value life has is what life puts upon itself? And it is of course overestimated, for it is of necessity prejudiced in its own favour. Take that man I had aloft. He held on as if he were a precious thing, a treasure beyond diamonds of rubies. To you? No. To me? Not at all. To himself? Yes. But I do not accept his estimate. He sadly overrates himself. There is plenty more life demanding to be born. Had he fallen and dripped his brains upon the deck like honey from the comb, “Do you know the only value life has is what life puts upon itself? And it is of course overestimated, for it is of necessity prejudiced in its own favour. Take that man I had aloft. He held on as if he were a precious thing, a treasure beyond diamonds of rubies. To you? No. To me? Not at all. To himself? Yes. But I do not accept his estimate. He sadly overrates himself. There is plenty more life demanding to be born. Had he fallen and dripped his brains upon the deck like honey from the comb, there would have been no loss to the world. The supply is too large.” I remember watching the tv adaptation of Jack London's The Sea-Wolf with my gran, but all I remember are images of sails and the ocean. I don't remember anything of the story from that time. So, when The Sea-Wolf came up as a buddy read, I jumped right on it. The story is told by Humphrey van Weyden, a wannabe author and self-professed gentleman, who is shipwrecked and picked up by the crew of The Ghost and their Captain - Wolf Larsen. Contrary to Humphrey's (Hump's) expectations, he is not set ashore but is Shanghaied by Larsen, who is short of crew and short of time. While on board, Hump transforms from a man of thought into a man of action, while witnessing the brutality of life at sea and especially the brutality of The Sea-Wolf, Captain Larsen. “Wolf - tis what he is. He's not blackhearted like some men. 'Tis no heart he has at all.” It's an interesting book in which London explores human motivation and philosophises about the meaning of life and the value that society attaches to one profession over another. It is not always easy to follow, London's train of thought, however, and it is not at all clear whether some of the views are the author's own. In some ways, I was reminded of Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, with its anti-hero Captain Nemo, whose disdain for human society somewhat parallels that of Larsen - except that Nemo had reason that are more relatable than those of Larsen. The Sea-Wolf remains a mystery until the end. Despite this, tho, the story works - even as just a simple story of adventure. The only aspect that really grated on me was that London felt it necessary to add an element of romance into the adventure and side Hump with a lady journalist, who he falls in love with. This is not the grating bit. The grating bit is that she's a pretty strong character and her falling for Hump - who is a patronising wimp - is pretty unlikely. It's Hump's interaction with the lady journalist and his description of her as feeble and weak, even though she does more than her fair share of manual labour on the ship, that really made me want to kick him over-board. “You are one with a crowd of men who have made what they call a government, who are masters of all the other men, and who eat the food the other men get and would like to eat themselves. You wear the warm clothes. They made the clothes, but they shiver in rags and ask you, the lawyer, or business agent who handles your money, for a job. 'But that is beside the matter,' I cried. Not at all. It is piggishness and it is life. Of what use or sense is an immortality of piggishness? What is the end? What is it all about? You have made no food. Yet the food you have eaten or wasted might have saved the lives of a score of wretches who made the food but did not eat it. What immortal end did you serve? Or did they?”

  7. 5 out of 5

    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. "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. 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." Those are the words of Wolf Larsen, arguably the baddest bad-ass ever to grace the pages of any seafaring novel, including those by Melville and Conrad, and perhaps any novel overall. Wolf Larsen, captain of a hunting vessel, beats up several men at once, hard-bitten sailors and seal hunters among them; chokes one of his men to win an argument; fixes a shark to starve to death, revenge for the shark having bitten a sailor's foot clean off; wagers which of his men will commit suicide; carries on a conversation as bullets whiz past; and beats the snot out of his brother, rival sea captain Death Larsen. That's right, his brother is named Death Larsen! And the name's not just for show: He towered like a Goliath above Wolf Larsen. He must have measured six feet eight or nine inches in stature, and I subsequently learned his weight -- 240 pounds. And there was no fat about him. It was all bone and muscle. Wolf Larsen's a great character because he's not just some mindless, musclebound brute. No, he's highly literate and well-read (and self-educated to boot), and able to clearly explain why he does what he does, as evidenced in the passage above. He's able to spar with his opponents not just physically, but verbally as well. OK, maybe "The Sea Wolf" isn't great literature, but it is brilliantly trashy fun -- and well-written trash at that. Why isn't this book as widely read as "The Call of the Wild" and "White Fang?" Perhaps because most of us stop reading Jack London after junior high school (for some reason), while "The Sea Wolf" is the manliest of all manly men's books. Lord knows I, for one, was not ready to encounter Wolf Larsen in junior high school. Frankly, I'm probably not ready for him now. What's interesting about "The Sea Wolf," and I doubt I'm the only reader to feel this way, is that even though we the readers are presumably supposed to see Wolf Larsen as the book's villain and sympathize with the narrator, Humphrey Van Weyden, well, fuck that. Hump -- yes, that is his nickname -- has a bookish, idealistic, romantic view of life. (That final trait comes to the forefront after love interest Maud Brewster shows up halfway through the book.) Those character traits simply pale in comparison to Wolf Larsen's kick-ass, every-man-for-himself pragmatism. I think it's the rare reader -- or at least the rare male reader -- who, even though he likely has much more in common with Hump than with Wolf Larsen, wouldn't, had he the option, choose to be the latter. London may have even intended the book to be read that way. "The Sea Wolf"'s only real weakness comes in its final pages, when the romance between Humphrey and Maud becomes sickeningly sweet. (Wolf Larsen's reaction, had he read this section of the book, would have been, I'm guessing, "Bosh!") Perhaps London was trying to make up for all the amputations, fisticuffs and testosterone-drenched manliness in the pages that preceded -- or maybe compensate for the homoeroticism in Hump's descriptions of Wolf Larsen's physique. London needn't have bothered. The book was awesome without the romance. Despite that shortcoming, though, I highly recommend "The Sea Wolf," especially to men who wish they were a bit less like Humphrey Van Weyden and a bit more like Wolf Larsen.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jay Schutt

    This terrific tale of the sea is character driven. Also, a study of human nature. Life, death, courage, hope for survival, immortality and love. A really good, but under-rated read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Jack Londons take on Nietzschess dubious concept of the Übermensch. In the confined space of a seal-hunting schooner in the middle of the Pacific Ocean the most captivating antagonist ever, captain Wolf Larson, highly intelligent with superhuman physical strength, have it out with the somewhat stodgy protagonist Van Weyden, an intellectual bookworm, scholar, and landlubber. Their philosophies and views on life couldnt be more different. The whole thing is embedded in an exciting adventure on high Jack London’s take on Nietzsches’s dubious concept of the Übermensch. In the confined space of a seal-hunting schooner in the middle of the Pacific Ocean the most captivating antagonist ever, captain Wolf Larson, highly intelligent with superhuman physical strength, have it out with the somewhat stodgy protagonist Van Weyden, an intellectual bookworm, scholar, and landlubber. Their philosophies and views on life couldn’t be more different. The whole thing is embedded in an exciting adventure on high seas and spiced with a love story at the end, which, to my taste, is a little bland. A recommended read for fans of adventure-philosophy, in which sometimes bones get broken to underpin an argument. The book confirms the impression I already had after reading The Iron Heel, namely, to regard Jack London as a serious writer. _______ (Update 1/27/2018) While reading the critical/annotated edition of Hitler’s Mein Kampf I didn’t expect to find a quote from The Sea Wolf in one of the footnotes. Hitler’s notion of “Race interests” as trumping any moral notions and that ethics is never entitled to a timeless validity (contrary to Kant's beliefs) can also be found much earlier among epigones of social Darwinism, even in popular culture. Jack London’s character Wolf Larson answers to the question of ethics and if he believes in right and wrong: “Not the least bit. Might is right, and that is all there is to it. Weakness is wrong. […] One man cannot wrong another man.  He can only wrong himself. As I see it, I do wrong always when I consider the interests of others.”  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    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 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 suggest this book to people who consider themselves vikings.

  11. 5 out of 5

    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 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 setting. Wolf Larsen is the penultimate materialistic man. He believes life is nothing more than a seething vat of yeast where the stronger eat the weaker for no other reason than they can. He believes in no afterlife or gods. He holds to no law save that of the jungle, but he's completely rejected any sort of society. On top of that, he's the captain (last of the tyrants) of a seal hunting ship, so is the ultimate authority in a small, violent world peopled by fantastically hard & damaged men. Humphrey (Sissy) van Weyden is so pitifully sheltered that it's amazing he took the ferry without an adult to accompany him, even though he's 35 years old. He quite believably winds up on the Ghost & under Wolf's rule. The story is mostly about the growth of Hump into a man under this harsh tutelage. I didn't give it 5 stars simply because of the ridiculous Victorian love theme running through it. It was awful. I thought that Maud Brewster was well drawn especially for the times, though. She certainly wasn't the robust, kick-ass heroine of modern fiction, but she grew at least as much as Hump did. My edition is an old rip from audio book cassettes I got from the library. It wasn't abridged & was read by Frank Muller or Mueller. He did a great job. This novel is now 110 years old. You should have read it or at least be familiar with the overall story line through one of the movies. Edward G. Robinson (1941) or Charles Bronson (1993) were perfect picks for Wolf Larsen. Christopher Reeves as Humphrey van Weyden was perfect, too. (See update below.) If you haven't, then beware ************ Spoilers Below ************* As far as bad-asses go, Larsen could give lessons. While he completely lacks empathy, he's quite the practical psychologist. He out thinks all his opponents (that means everyone) or beats the crap out of them if that seems the reasonable or most expedient thing to do. He hurt Hump's arm for days simply by gripping it briefly. He killed men without a qualm, usually with enjoyment. When he decided to poach his brother's hunters, he takes one down to his cabin alone for a 'discussion'. He towered like a Goliath above Wolf Larsen. He must have measured six feet eight or nine inches in stature, and I subsequently learned his weight -- 240 pounds. And there was no fat about him. It was all bone and muscle. A fight is heard & Larsen emerges a bit red faced from exertion, but otherwise unharmed. The giant is carried out. In many ways, Larsen reminds me of one of Ayn Rand's heroes, if he'd been raised as a savage. Larsen certainly acts as if he had to fight for every scrap since he was a babe, which makes his intellectual accomplishments the more amazing & his lack of any hint of empathy or society even worse. Larsen says it is simply a lack of opportunity that he didn't outdo "The Corsican" (Napoleon). I believe him. Larsen's basic philosophy is described here. 'And the highest, finest right conduct,' I [Hump] interjected, 'is that act which benefits at the same time the man, his children, and his race.' 'I wouldn't stand for that,' he replied. 'Couldn't see the necessity for it, nor the common sense. I cut out the race and the children. I would sacrifice nothing for them. It's just so much slush and sentiment, and you must see it yourself, at least for one who does not believe in eternal life. With immortality before me, altruism would be a paying business proposition. I might elevate my soul to all kinds of altitudes. But with nothing eternal before me but death, given for a brief spell this yeasty crawling and squirming which is called life, why, it would be immoral for me to perform any act that was a sacrifice. Any sacrifice that makes me lose one crawl or squirm is foolish; and not only foolish, for it is a wrong against myself, and a wicked thing. I must not lose one crawl or squirm if I am to get the most out of the ferment. Nor will the eternal movelessness that is coming to me be made easier or harder by the sacrifices or selfishnesses of the time when I was yeasty and acrawl.' Larsen is a noble creature, though. (Note, I did not write 'human'. He's more akin to a shark in his single-minded voracity than his namesake which is a social animal, although not thought so by London.) If nothing else, he's admirable simply because he's such a perfect bastard, much like Lucifer to whom he is likened. While he has all his faculties about him, Larsen is almost god-like. When they fail, he becomes an object of pity to Hump & Maud, although he certainly asks for none & does his best to reject it. The hell he descends into is a fitting end, too. Nothing could be a worse punishment for him & he certainly deserves plenty. Hump & Maud certainly found themselves under Larsen's tutelage. I'd say they owe him a great debt, but one doesn't owe anything to the predator or the natural forces of the world. One survives them or is eaten. At the end of the novel, I can imagine both going on to doing great things. Both were wasted in their previous lives, mere drones that were awakened into their full powers by the adversity they faced & overcame. I doubt much in the way of physical or mental hardship will ever daunt them. They also found their moral limits. Stupid as they were, they owned them well. Like their teacher, they were comfortable with themselves, an awesome state of being. Update 9Jan2014: I watched the 1993 version of this movie with Charles Bronson & Christopher Reeves. Both were perfect for their parts as I suspected they would be. The movie wasn't entirely faithful to the book, but it did stick to the theme pretty well. The romance was done far better, but Bronson didn't directly give the philosophical speech I quoted above. That was a shame, but it was still well worth watching.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Paul O'Neill

    An enjoyable sea faring tale, and not entirely what I was expecting. The first half of this book would receive a solid four stars. It gets a bit boring at the end. The main reason being that I'd rather the 'sea wolf' character was indeed the main character. We've come a long way in what we want from our characters (thanks GRRM!) and their motivations. Is it wrong that I liked the 'bad guy' in this book and wanted to know more about him, his motivations and also agree with his pirate behaviour? An enjoyable sea faring tale, and not entirely what I was expecting. The first half of this book would receive a solid four stars. It gets a bit boring at the end. The main reason being that I'd rather the 'sea wolf' character was indeed the main character. We've come a long way in what we want from our characters (thanks GRRM!) and their motivations. Is it wrong that I liked the 'bad guy' in this book and wanted to know more about him, his motivations and also agree with his pirate behaviour? Instead we follow a rich, spoiled gentleman on this voyage. Still a good read. Also, this book must set some record for the most times the word 'poop' is used in a book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    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 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 either view in his book (of course, as he is an atheist, he puts forth stronger arguments in support of his own beliefs). This book really made me think. Oh, and of course the story is amazing!!!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kenchiin

    "You stand on dead men's legs. You've never had any of your own" A book full of truth.

  15. 5 out of 5

    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 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 they have, and the overall character of the captain, but I will spare you. Jack London is an incredible writer. His writing style is very descriptive while still managing to say exactly what he means in very few words. I really enjoyed reading this book because of it. I really enjoyed this book. I would definitely recommend it as a quick, but though - provoking read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    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 has to work with his hands, and has 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 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 has to work with his hands, and has 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 views. This, basically, is the description of Wolf Larsen, captain of the Ghost, a seal-hunting ship in the early 1900's. Our protagonist, Humphrey van Weydon is an intellectual and a scholar, who never "worked a day in his life", according to the illustrious captain. (Hump was 'rescued' from a shipwreck and immediately, and illegally, pressed into service aboard the Ghost - where the first thing he sees is the captain killing the first mate.) Hump is shown to be in every way inferior to the brutish captain. Needless to say, the captain and 'Hump' disagree on morality, duty, bravery, and just about anything else. So the first part of the book is full of long discussions between the two of them, where the captain always seems to get the better of Hump. This was point two of what I loathed. The arguments were facile; Hump was never very convincing of the 'Christian' or even moral point of view. In all ways, Wolf Larsen is portrayed as superior (despite, or even because of, his cruelty to his crew). Next we have an amazing coincidence of a rescue at sea of a damsel in distress, Maud, with whom Hump immediately falls in love. This really lacked in believability. At least Maud does not fall for the epitome of all that is male (Wolf) and sees him for what he is - a sadistic monster, who uses his intellect to justify his cruelty. The next bit of the book was at least interesting, when Hump and Maud escape and are marooned on an island and have to fend for themselves to survive. Their struggles to make shelter and find food seemed quite realistic, and at least at this point their blooming love for one another seemed more realistic. But, even here, the descriptions of Maud as the weaker sex and Hump's feelings toward her were simply laughable: [Hump thinks to himself] "I shall never forget in that moment how instantly conscious I became of my manhood. The primitive deeps of my nature stirred. I felt myself masculine, the protector of the weak, the fighting male. And best of all, I felt myself the protector of my loved one. She leaned against me, so light and lily-frail, and as her trembling eased away it seemed as though I became aware of prodigious strength. I felt myself a match for the most ferocious bull [seal] in the herd, and I know, had such a bull charged upon me, that I should have met it unflinchingly and quite coolly, and I know that I should have killed it." All I can say is, ugh. Then, a still more amazing coincidence occurs - the Ghost crashes on the island, bereft of all crew except for Wolf Larsen. He, however, is suffering from some sort of brain ailment (possibly a tumor of some kind) and is blind, and then slowly becomes paralyzed. Hump and Maud both bemoan the tragedy of such an "alive" person becoming weak and helpless. When he finally dies, Maud even feels sorry for him! Look, I realize this was written over 100 years ago, when the ideals of masculinity and femininity were different, but this was just WAY over the top. There was nothing, NOTHING admirable about Wolf Larsen, except maybe his hot body. He was a bully, a sadist, and a criminal. Oh, and one more thing I loathed - the edition I read had an afterward written by some English professor who seemed to practically glow with admiration for Wolf Larsen and what and example of the Heroic Man he is in literature. So, why did I even finish it - well, Jack London is a decent story teller and I wanted to see how it was going to end. But I found the first half of the book difficult to read, between the endless (and pointless) arguments about morality and manhood, and the horrible cruelties inflicted on the crew. This was NOT a rousing sea adventure, a la Horatio Hornblower or Master and Commander. If that's the kind of sea-faring tale you like, do NOT bother with this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    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.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

    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 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-mad at least, what of his strange moods and vagaries. At other times I take him for a great man, a genius who has never arrived. And, finally, I am convinced that he is the perfect type of the primitive man, born a thousand years or generations too late and an anachronism in this culminating century of civilization." 3 AUG 2014 -- Did you know Jack London called his California home Wolf House? See here - http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_H... His nickname was also Wolf. Neat. 5 AUG 2014 -- As I am reading, I wonder if Larsen's meanness toward others and ill-treatment of others is a coping mechanism for some tragedy which occurred in his life or perhaps is a cover-up for personal unhappiness. Maybe Larsen never wanted to be a sea captain and fell into the position by happenstance. Maybe Larsen had other dreams for himself. Or, maybe he really is a nasty old sea-dog. Chap. 17 - One thing I was beginning to feel, and that was that I could never again be quite the same man I had been. While my hope and faith in human life still survived Wolf Larsen’s destructive criticism, he had nevertheless been a cause of change in minor matters.  He had opened up for me the world of the real, of which I had known practically nothing and from which I had always shrunk.  I had learned to look more closely at life as it was lived, to recognize that there were such things as facts in the world, to emerge from the realm of mind and idea and to place certain values on the concrete and objective phases of existence. Chap. 21 - Of all places, Hump meets a contemporary in the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Crazy! Chap. 33 - Isn't this a great exchange between Hump and Larsen? Larsen: “Oh, nothing,” he added softly, as if he were drowsing; “only you’ve got me where you want me.” Hump: “No, I haven’t,” I retorted; “for I want you a few thousand miles away from here.” Chap. 39 - “I remember only one part of the service,” I said, “and that is, ‘And the body shall be cast into the sea.’” Maud looked at me, surprised and shocked; but the spirit of something I had seen before was strong upon me, impelling me to give service to Wolf Larsen as Wolf Larsen had once given service to another man.  I lifted the end of the hatch cover and the canvas-shrouded body slipped feet first into the sea.  The weight of iron dragged it down.  It was gone. “Good-bye, Lucifer, proud spirit,” Maud whispered, so low that it was drowned by the shouting of the wind; but I saw the movement of her lips and knew. 9 AUG 2014 -- I enjoyed the heck out of this book! My only regret is that I do not know enough about ships and sailing to fully appreciate London's wonderful descriptions of both. This book is the story of Hump's progress from a man who has everything only to realize everything is not measured in "stuff;" but, rather, in a man's reliance on himself.

  19. 5 out of 5

    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 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 choice. Over the course of the book Hump goes from being a bit of a wet noodle (but a gentleman) to a much stronger, self reliant man. Its a great character study but also a pretty exciting adventure. Wolf Larssen can be quite terrifying, especially when he nears his end... I take one star off my rating for Wolf Larssens philosophy rants of 'man is a worm, a mould' etc. I used to skim those parts. And the violence and profanity can be a bit much. But the story...oh I love it! CONTENT: SEX: None. PROFANITY : Moderately heavy use of B, D, H VIOLENCE: Moderate (the captain is a brute and there are scenes of seal hunting) PG -PG 13

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tristram Shandy

    What a Maudlin Brews That I dont know whether Jack Londons seafaring novel The Sea-Wolf enjoys the same popularity in the U.S. as it does in Germany, where practically every member of my generation fondly remembers the Weihnachtsvierteiler on TV, in which Raimund Harmstorf as Captain Wolf Larsen mashed a potato in his hand. Speaking of fond memories, though, one must admit that the adaptation came over as rather lengthy when I last watched it. But that is neither here nor there: The most What a Maudlin Brew’s That … I don’t know whether Jack London’s seafaring novel The Sea-Wolf enjoys the same popularity in the U.S. as it does in Germany, where practically every member of my generation fondly remembers the Weihnachtsvierteiler on TV, in which Raimund Harmstorf as Captain Wolf Larsen mashed a potato in his hand. Speaking of fond memories, though, one must admit that the adaptation came over as rather lengthy when I last watched it. But that is neither here nor there: The most important point is that the scriptwriters proved infinitely wiser than London when they decided to have Maud Brewster conveniently drown in her attempt to escape with Humphrey Van Weyden, thus sparing us many of the puerile gushings of the last third of the novel. Maud Brewster is, indeed, the weakest point of this novel, which got me hooked from the very start and kept me at baited breath following the duel between Humphrey and Wolf Larsen for many pages until the protagonist and his love interest find themselves washed ashore on an apparently undiscovered island. To have done with Maud and get her out of this review at the earliest moment possible, let me just mention that the pathetic final chapters set on Endeavor Island become more understandable – although not necessarily more palatable – when you read them as a private declaration of love of the author, who, at the time of writing the novel, was on the point of leaving his wife and his two daughters in favour of his mistress Charmian Kittredge, who was to become his next spouse. Therefore let us put down these awkward and, as I said, puerile effusions to London’s pent-up sexual longings (just consider how chuffed to bits Maud is when Humphrey finally manages to erect the makeshift mast of the Ghost), to the wild and often mortifying uxoriousness of somebody who is newly in love, to a lack in taste which is due to an overflowing heart, and concentrate instead on the more felicitous parts of the novel. Basically, The Sea-Wolf tells the story of the literary critic Humphrey “Sissy” Van Weyden, who finds himself adrift at sea after the sinking of a ferry and who is taken aboard the Ghost, a seal-hunting schooner. The owner of the Ghost, Captain Wolf Larsen, is a ruthless sociopath, a man deeply rooted in the tenets of vulgarized Social Darwinism, as the following passage may aptly show: ”’I believe that life is a mess,’ he answered promptly. ‘It is like yeast, a ferment, a thing that moves and may move for a minute, an hour, a year, or a hundred years, but that in the end will cease to move. The big eat the little that they may continue to move, the strong eat the weak that they may retain their strength. The lucky eat the most and move the longest, that is all. What do you make of those things?’ He swept his arm in an impatient gesture toward a number of the sailors who were working on some kind of rope stuff amidships. ‘They move, so does the jelly-fish move. They move in order to eat in order that they may keep moving. There you have it. They live for their belly’s sake, and the belly is for their sake. It’s a circle; you get nowhere. Neither do they. In the end they come to a standstill. They move no more. They are dead.’ ‘They have dreams,’ I interrupted, ‘radiant, flashing dreams—‘ ‘Of grub,’ he concluded sententiously.” Having lost his mate shortly after setting sail, Wolf Larsen decides to keep Humphrey on board and to make him one of his crew, telling him that since he, Hump, has never lifted a finger but is living on the money he inherited from his father, he is in fact standing on a dead man’s legs and that he will be taught to stand on his own legs. In the course of their voyage, Larsen’s callous brutality and his penchant towards sadism become more and more obvious, especially with regard to those crew members who do not readily submit to him but uphold their own dignity. All in all, the microcosm of the Ghost seems to bear out Larsen’s view of the world as an eternal rat-race, an exercise in dog-eat-dog ruthlessness and “piggishness” which does not feel restrained by any moral code of behaviour. Van Weyden has to stand his ground against the despicable ship’s cook Thomas Mugridge, whereas the Captain takes grim pleasure in following his own crusade against the unflinching sailors Johnson and Leach, a crusade that will lead to their destruction. Nevertheless, Larsen is no senseless brute but a well-read and self-educated man, who uses his erudition to justify his merciless materialism in his discussions with the idealist Van Weyden. One has to admit, though, that Van Weyden is surprisingly pathetic during these discussions, using the weakest arguments imaginable, so that Larsen easily gets the better of him. All in all, notwithstanding the fact that the Captain has, in Hump, finally found somebody who is able to engage in philosophical talks with him, Larsen does not consider Van Weyden as an equal but rather as a tyrannical monarch might consider his personal jester. London himself claimed that in Wolf Larsen he wanted to criticize Friedrich Nietzsche’s conception of the Übermensch but anyone who has read Nietzsche will soon find that London cannot have had any deep knowledge of Nietzsche’s writings and thoughts. In fact, Nietzsche would undoubtedly have turned in disgust from Wolf Larsen’s crude materialism as much as he would have derided Van Weyden’s unsystematic attempts at proving Larsen wrong by referring to Christian concepts of the immortality of the soul and similar sentiment. Wolf Larsen’s philosophy seems more in line with what Nietzsche’s notorious sister and the Nazis read into Nietzsche (without probably ever reading him). And yet, there is more to Larsen than a vulgarized Übermensch label might suppose us to assume at first sight. Larsen’s statement ”My mistake was in ever opening the books” seems to betray the mental despair of somebody who set out to find answers to the great questions of life but who could never accept what was offered him since none of it was able to stand the test of real life. One can argue that somebody who has been pampered by life like Van Weyden can easily sermonize on immortality, altruism, the human soul and high principles, whereas somebody who had gone through a childhood of deprivation, who had never had an encouraging word but got accustomed to fending for himself at a very early age would turn a more critical eye to all these noble principles. Both Larsen and Thomas Mugridge are examples of men who had to struggle through life, and while Mugridge turned into an abject cur as he lacked both physical and intellectual power, Larsen, who had anything but a golden opportunity became the cruel and unscrupulous Captain of the Ghost. This, however, might be another prompting of materialism, although, saying that, it should be added that London himself did not believe in the immortal soul of man but was a die-hard materialist. Maybe this is also why Van Weyden’s arguments are so weak that they lead to the following response by Larsen – a response which seems quite understandable and convincing to me: “’There you are!’ he cried at her, half angrily.’“Your words are empty to me. There is nothing clear and sharp and definite about the thought you have expressed. You cannot pick it up in your two hands and look at it. In point of fact, it is not a thought. It is a feeling, a sentiment, a something based upon illusion and not a product of the intellect at all.’” Mind that Larsen reacts angrily – probably with the anger of somebody who gave up his search long ago and who is sick and tired of having his hopes permanently rekindled only to find them deceived once more. Philosophically speaking, there is infinitely more to the grim pessimism of Wolf Larsen’s world view than to the sentimental hogwash of Van Weyden – who is remarkably cowardly and intent on preserving his own life for somebody who deems himself in possession of an immortal soul, by the way – and Maudlin Brewster. The most outstanding flaw in Larsen’s outlook, however, is his monadic approach, which leads him to a most primitive bellum omnia contra omnes interpretation of life. I really wonder whether Larsen, in his autodidactic readings, might not also have come across Thomas Hobbes, whose writings could have shown him that a more skeptical view of human life and the immortality of the soul can be compatible with a theory of civilization based on a contract that serves individuals to pursue their own interests in cooperation and in a constant process of negotiation. Do ut des seems a very sensible tenet to me, simply because life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. The latter especially to those who have never had the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson read aloud to them. Now, I must confess that in the course of my ramblings, I have quite lost my bearings. There are many other aspects of the novel that invite discussion, e.g. Van Weyden’s pusillanimity, or Wolf Larsen’s tragic ending, which is partly due to a brain tumor but partly also to the fact that his brother and his steamship prove a bigger piece of yeast than he himself and his sailing ship and which therefore illustrates Larsen’s theory with a touch of dramatic irony – and this short list of examples may serve to point out what an interesting book The Sea-Wolf actually is. Most of it will definitely compensate you for the embarrassing Maud Brewster parts.

  21. 5 out of 5

    David Hines

    Re-read one of my favorite books of youth and it still does not disappoint. The character of Wolf Larson, his intelligence but brutality, is one of the most memorable in literature, while Van Wyden's transformation from a weak gentleman to a strong and powerful man is as equally memorable. All set in a terrific sea-faring tale. The only detractants to this work are the ridiculous portrayal of the female as weak and helpless even as her actions in the book suggest real strength and the book's Re-read one of my favorite books of youth and it still does not disappoint. The character of Wolf Larson, his intelligence but brutality, is one of the most memorable in literature, while Van Wyden's transformation from a weak gentleman to a strong and powerful man is as equally memorable. All set in a terrific sea-faring tale. The only detractants to this work are the ridiculous portrayal of the female as weak and helpless even as her actions in the book suggest real strength and the book's abrubt ending although truth be told the story is at an end. This is a well written tale, one of London's best, and one which makes either a young adult or a more grown person both think and yearn for adventure. Highly recommended.

  22. 5 out of 5

    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 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 heart strings.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Steven Wedgeworth

    A harrowing tale of shipwreck and survival, The Sea-Wolf combines classic Jack London adventure with philosophical meditations on life, truth, and love. Certain parts are very dark, but the book manages to have a happy ending. I'm not sure it brings everything together throughout, and the role of Wolf Larsen is a little open-ended. But it is a compelling read nonetheless.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Bettie's Books

  25. 5 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    A tense and supremely satisfying morality play whose message is simple and twofold: don't be an asshole & apathy is for losers. A pampered upper middle class waste-of-space, lost at sea after a boating accident, gets picked up by the "Ghost", a sealing schooner captained by one of the great, ruthless assholes of modern literature, Wolf Larsen. Larsen keeps the crybaby against his will and sets him up as cabin boy, nicknames him "Hump" and proceeds to torture and torment him into vitality. A tense and supremely satisfying morality play whose message is simple and twofold: don't be an asshole & apathy is for losers. A pampered upper middle class waste-of-space, lost at sea after a boating accident, gets picked up by the "Ghost", a sealing schooner captained by one of the great, ruthless assholes of modern literature, Wolf Larsen. Larsen keeps the crybaby against his will and sets him up as cabin boy, nicknames him "Hump" and proceeds to torture and torment him into vitality. Larsen is no mere sadistic fool though, he's more like Hannibal Lechter handed a boat--smart, self-taught and sadistic, the brutal embodiment of what we're still taught to admire: brute force, ask questions later, doubt everything but your own selfish machinations. Crybaby rich guy sticks it out, as you might expect, but that's the only predictable part about it. Once they pick up a shipwrecked young English poet lady, things take an interesting turn and then take even more astonishing turns with a seeming bleak and fatal denouement that is nothing what you are expecting, mostly due to its warmth and sadness. By that point the story has become something else entirely, another testament to London's genius--that ability to suddenly shift on you and lift you out of your dark hole and give you a big fat kiss on the cheek. Maybe his best?

  26. 4 out of 5

    rosamund

    In general, I enjoy nautical novels for their adventures and camaraderie. The Sea-Wolf brings things to whole new level of homo-eroticism and moral quandaries. Humphrey Van Weyden, a literary critic, is shipwrecked on his way to San Francisco. He is rescued by Captain Wolf Larsen, who refuses to bring him to shore, instead forcing him to join his crew, in order to make a man of Humphrey. London has a lot of feelings about manliness, most of which are pretty objectionable to the 21st century In general, I enjoy nautical novels for their adventures and camaraderie. The Sea-Wolf brings things to whole new level of homo-eroticism and moral quandaries. Humphrey Van Weyden, a literary critic, is shipwrecked on his way to San Francisco. He is rescued by Captain Wolf Larsen, who refuses to bring him to shore, instead forcing him to join his crew, in order to make a man of Humphrey. London has a lot of feelings about manliness, most of which are pretty objectionable to the 21st century reader. It's this obsession with manliness that leads to much of the homo-erotics though, because Humphrey just can't stop talking about how manly Wolf Larsen is. When he first meets him, Humphrey says his face with large features and strong lines, of the square order, yet well filled out, was apparently massive at first sight; but as with the body, the massiveness seemed to vanish and a conviction grew of a tremendous and excessive mental or spiritual strength that lay beyond … This follows a long description of Wolf's body, and he goes on to expand on his impressions of Wolf's face and to then talk about his eyes for a full paragraph, eyes the could brood with hopeless sombreness of leaden skies; that could snap and crackle points of fire like those which sparkle from a whirling sword; that could grow chill as an arctic landscape, and yet again, could warm and soften and be all a-dance with love lights, intense and masculine, luring and compelling … He keeps going. That's just an extract. Then, after having known Wolf for approximately twenty-four hours, during which time Wolf has kidnapped him, this occurs, 'I read immortality in your eyes,' I answered, dropping the 'sir' – an experiment, for I thought the intimacy of the conversation warranted it. Steady on, Humphrey. Play your cards a little closer to your chest. Their relationship develops over the next half of the book. Wolf is portrayed as a brutal, cruel man, who has no compassion, and, while interested in Humphrey's intellect, mainly keeps him around because Humphrey amuses Wolf. However, the tension between them simmers, and it doesn't just feel like the tension between unwilling sailor / captain. As Humphrey describes it, it was intimate, “if intimacy may be denoted to describe those relations which exist between master and man, or, better yet, between king and jester.” I think it can, Humphrey. This is definitely not a good or healthy relationship. But it's FASCINATING. The gay continues when Humphrey sees Wolf naked for the first time, Wolf Larsen was the man-type, the masculine, and almost a god in his perfectness. As he moved about or raised his arms the great muscles leapt and moved under the satiny skin. […] I could not take my eyes from him. I stood motionless, a roll of antiseptic cotton in my hand unwinding and spilling itself down to the floor. I found this book so much more homo-erotic than other sea-faring novels I have read (and that's saying something) that I became curious about Jack London's own sexuality. I found this article in the New Yorker, which suggests Jack London was bisexual. At the time of writing, a “wolf” was slang for an older homeless man who took sexual favours from a younger man – and London has been homeless in his youth and would have been familiar with this. When London was older he had an intimate and sexually charged relationship with an Englishman, and during their relationship, London called himself wolf. So calling his model of masculine beauty Wolf was certainly a deliberate, and meaningful, choice, and not something London would have done unknowingly. Though it's hard to tell exactly from his biography, evidence suggests London was bisexual. It's hard to read the scenes between Wolf and Humphrey without finding a sexual undertone. The novel goes on to include a poet, Maud Brewster, whom Humphrey eventually falls in love with. This eases the tension between Humphrey and Wolf, and its necessary for the narrative for Wolf, who is, essentially, a murderer and abuser, to get his comeuppance. Which is good, but London's views of women as fragile and tender, and in need of a masculine influence, are harder to stomach, as are his views of what is essentially masculine. The story is about Humphrey growing from being a “sissy” to a muscle-bound Alpha male – which as someone who has no objection to sissies, I hate. But if you don't pay too much attention to this, The Sea-Wolf is a rollicking yarn, full of sexual tension, sailing and swearing, and I recommend it. It's not a good novel, exactly, but I enjoyed it more than anything I've read in a long time.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Shaun

    It began simply, on a regular day, except this day I was fortunate enough to find myself in my favorite local bookshop. Right near the door, the owner had purchased and set up a set of books, beautiful-looking Readers Digest books, classics. I specifically went there looking for Mark Twain, and I ended up with three of them. I also had my eye on Mary Shelleys Frankenstein. I wanted to get one more book, but I didnt know which one to get. Kipling, Verne, Austen, Dickens. So I asked the proprietor It began simply, on a regular day, except this day I was fortunate enough to find myself in my favorite local bookshop. Right near the door, the owner had purchased and set up a set of books, beautiful-looking Reader’s Digest books, classics. I specifically went there looking for Mark Twain, and I ended up with three of them. I also had my eye on Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”. I wanted to get one more book, but I didn’t know which one to get. Kipling, Verne, Austen, Dickens. So I asked the proprietor – “If you were to pick out one of these as a must-read, which would you choose?” His choice surprised me – Jack London “The Sea Wolf”. I didn’t know London, and never had heard of that book, but I quickly realized he was the author of the more famous “Call of the Wild”, which I’d at least heard of. It’s what he recommended, I felt a touch of spontaneity, and it was a beautiful-looking book --- have I mentioned that yet? So I got it. I gave it a chance. And, rather than just letting it pretty up my bookshelf and give the appearance of me being a more voracious reader than I actually am, I actually read it. At first, the first chapter or two, I didn’t much like it. It was easy enough to follow along with, I wasn’t lost or confused, really, but I just didn’t know where it was heading. I knew virtually nothing about the book except (from a brief glimpse at Wikipedia) that it was about a domineering ship captain named Wolf Larsen, and how a well-to-do man got Shanghaied into his service. What really began to stand out to me was the depth of Wolf Larsen, and his and the protagonist’s take on life. In particular, Larsen is described as being “un-moral”, not immoral, but un-moral. He’s very much a Darwinist, a survival-of-the-strongest type. He doesn’t operate under the guise of right and wrong, good or evil, but only on strength – who is higher on the food chain. That is to me what carried the story through. It was very much a character-driven novel, and the novel fleshes out more and more of the character’s, I won’t say personalities, but rather their ethos. Well I don’t want to give spoilers or recount all the story when you can just read it or indeed already have, so I’ll just say that the impression it left on me as a writer is to really know our characters and how they think, how they judge right and wrong, if at all, and to put other characters in their way who challenge their philosophy, and then have circumstances or obstacles be put in their way to make them go against their instinct, or at least to make a difficult choice that the reader knows is probably not the right choice, but they have to because that’s their philosophy. I hope that makes sense. Anyway, long story short, I really liked it, I found myself wishing, near the end, that it was a series, and I was only on book one or two or three. The novel impressed me so much that I’d definitely pick up a copy of “Call of the Wild” if I happen upon it, or any other Jack London novels. I’m torn between a four and a five star rating, I think I’d give it something like 4.25 stars, but since it well exceeded whatever expectations I had going in, and since I really found the character of Wolf Larsen so awesome, I’m going to round it up the extra 0.75 stars. Five stars. Recommended! Oh, I will say, on the negative side, some of the chapters had some extensive descriptions of naval terms, especially concerning the sails, particularly near the end of the book, and since I couldn’t follow along with what they were doing, I just skipped two pages and supplanted it with “They fixed the sails.”

  28. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    The Sea wolf has been a very exciting journey, not failing to keep me interested. Though the book was very long, it was very satisfying when a chapter was finished and I could move onto the next. The story is lead by a man living in a domesticated environment, named Humphrey van Weyden. Taking a boat trip on a san francisco ship called the 'martinez', the boat collides with an another, sending him into the water and eventually getting picked by another ship called the 'ghost'. He is forced to The Sea wolf has been a very exciting journey, not failing to keep me interested. Though the book was very long, it was very satisfying when a chapter was finished and I could move onto the next. The story is lead by a man living in a domesticated environment, named Humphrey van Weyden. Taking a boat trip on a san francisco ship called the 'martinez', the boat collides with an another, sending him into the water and eventually getting picked by another ship called the 'ghost'. He is forced to leave his soft life, and work on the Ghost. I really enjoyed seeing the character development of van Weyden, near the start of the book he was shown as polite but changes upon meeting the ship's captain, Wolf Larson, and the Ghost. if you were to read it without ever taking a look at the start of the book again, you wouldn't see the major difference if you did otherwise. I wouldn't reccomend it to children under 12 due to it's complicated vocabulary, such as ship/boat words. i enjoyed it minus the tricky language.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mo

    The Sea-Wolf is my mom's favorite book. My mom grew up in East Germany where it wasn't possible to buy a copy of this book. Her solution was to check it out from the library repeatedly and hand-copy the entire thing into a notebook so she could possess it herself. That's how much she loved this book. So I decided to read it and find out what's so great about it. All I can say is... I can see why someone would love The Sea-Wolf, especially as a teenager, but my god was it hilariously pulpy. Is The Sea-Wolf is my mom's favorite book. My mom grew up in East Germany where it wasn't possible to buy a copy of this book. Her solution was to check it out from the library repeatedly and hand-copy the entire thing into a notebook so she could possess it herself. That's how much she loved this book. So I decided to read it and find out what's so great about it. All I can say is... I can see why someone would love The Sea-Wolf, especially as a teenager, but my god was it hilariously pulpy. Is this book even real?! The story is that Humphrey "Sissy" van Weyden, an effete gentleman bookworm, is ferrying across San Francisco Bay when his boat gets wrecked and he gets picked up out of the water by a sealing schooner. He assumes he'll be put ashore now that he's been rescued, but instead the captain, "Wolf" Larsen, impresses him onto the ship for the seal-hunting voyage to Japanese waters. Wolf Larsen is a Dane who grew up in Norway and also happens to be a self-taught nihilistic philosophizing Nietzschean genius, a primitive savage beast of a man with the physical strength of a leopard and/or gorilla, and a pretty amoral dude who psychologically tortures his crew and kills a number of them in horrible ways for kicks. He also has a brother - also captain of a sealing schooner - named "Death." Wolf and Death aren't their real names, btw, it's just what sailors call them because they're so metal. Humphrey, now rechristened "Hump," is an educated man (though not especially skilled in debate, one must say), which entertains Wolf, so a sort of king-and-court-jester relationship develops between them as Hump rises from cabin boy to mate whilst debating materialism vs. idealism with Wolf. All of this happens in the most homoerotic fashion possible. At one point in the book Hump is forced to admit to himself that Wolf's body is just totally superhuman like the rest of him. He spends several pages describing it in rhapsodizing detail. Wolf notices the admiration so he takes a moment to flex HIS ENTIRE BODY and be like "wanna touch my muscles bro?" Hump is like "GOD yes" and takes the opportunity to get an admiring grope in. I'm sure this is perfectly heterosexual by 1904 standards. Or maybe not, since soon afterwards the damsel-in-distress love interest appears - a shipwrecked poet (Maud) whose work Hump happens to be familiar with from his previous life as a gentleman of letters. After that things kind of take a turn into boy's own adventure. The relationship developing between Wolf, Hump and Maud is really interesting and twisted but the book doesn't explore it much as Maud and Hump soon find an opportunity to escape (now extra necessary because of the never-explicitly-stated-but-extremely-heavily-implied fact that Wolf is just waiting to rape Maud any moment). Every word written about the ocean in this book is beautiful, you find yourself wishing you could be lost on a tiny boat in the middle of the stormy Bering Sea just to experience the sea-foam as London describes it. Hump has apparently become an accomplished sailor in like 4 months and he soon becomes an accomplished seal hunter and squalid hut designer and basically rebuilds an entire ship by himself too! There's some surviving on a deserted island until Wolf shows up again alone and in a much diminished state, but it's a bit blah as a denouement. The main takeaway is that Hump has finally become really manly. SO manly. And it's all thanks to having a frail helpless woman to impress and feel fondly superior to! Maud does what Wolf failed to ever really do: make Hump stand on his own legs. Still, I notice Hump never spends multiple pages talking about how hot her body is. By the way, it turns out there's a band called Wolf Larsen! Their music is probably the opposite of what Wolf Larsen would like, which is awesome because if anyone deserves to be trolled by desultory indie guitar-plinking, it's Wolf Larsen.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tocotin

    Im with those who say that the book was great until the introduction of the only female character. Sometimes, convulsively masculine books can be quite readable until a woman joins the cast and makes the whole pathetic ugliness, artifice and fragility of the patriarchal narrative explode or implode. Here, it implodes. I would have liked Maud on her own, not as an appendix to the main character she is designed to show that he also can be oh so manly, by taking care of her, because she is a I’m with those who say that the book was great until the introduction of the only female character. Sometimes, convulsively masculine books can be quite readable until a woman joins the cast and makes the whole pathetic ugliness, artifice and fragility of the patriarchal narrative explode… or implode. Here, it implodes. I would have liked Maud on her own, not as an appendix to the main character – she is designed to show that he also can be oh so manly, by taking care of her, because she is a woman, therefore by definition weak, helpless, in need of protection. In fact, Maud is resolute, brave, and fun, but she MUST fall in love with the main character, for the sake of the story. I wonder what would have happened if the woman they rescued turned out to be not a delicate lady, but say, a seamstress or a maid. No story, I guess; this book is soaked in classism and social Darwinism. Lowly born people deserve nothing but contempt (“An hereditary servility, no doubt, was responsible”), unless they are Strong. Also, Manly. They must absolutely be Manly. Oh yes! It’s so steamy and dreamy! The main character cum narrator, Humphrey, is so absolutely besotted with Wolf Larsen! Behold: “I had never before seen him stripped, and the sight of his body quite took my breath away. It has never been my weakness to exalt the flesh – far from it; but there is enough of the artist in me to appreciate its wonder. I must say that I was fascinated by the perfect lines of Wolf Larsen’s figure, and by what I may term the terrible beauty of it. I had noted the men in the forecastle. Powerfully muscled though some of them were, there had been something wrong with all of them, an insufficient development here, an undue development there, a twist or a crook that destroyed symmetry, legs too short or too long, or too much sinew or bone exposed, or too little. Oofty-Oofty had been the only one whose lines were at all pleasing, while, in so far as they pleased, that far had they been what I should call feminine. But Wolf Larsen was the man-type, the masculine, and almost a god in his perfectness. As he moved about or raised his arms the great muscles leapt and moved under the satiny skin. I have forgotten to say that the bronze ended with his face. His body, thanks to his Scandinavian stock, was fair as the fairest woman’s. I remember his putting his hand up to feel of the wound on his head, and my watching the biceps move like a living thing under its white sheath. It was the biceps that had nearly crushed out my life once, that I had seen strike so many killing blows. I could not take my eyes from him. I stood motionless, a roll of antiseptic cotton in my hand unwinding and spilling itself down to the floor.” See? Alas, poor cabin boy Humphrey doesn’t get ravished by his Captain, because Maud happens. Talk about undue development! Why did I read this book? I wanted to see a great, terrifying villain, and everything was going well until, yes you guessed it, until Maud happened, and the plot and Wolf himself just jumped the shark and became plain silly. I got bored, I got irritated, I couldn’t wait for the book to end. The first part is truly great, though, and the writing is clear and lovely. My favorite quote: “God is noddin’ and not doin’ his duty, though it’s me as shouldn’t say it.”

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