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The Call of the Wild - Jack London

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Author: Jack London / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 06 March 2008 / Genre: Children's Classic Fiction / Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd / Title: The Call of the Wild / ISBN 13: 9780141321059 / ISBN 10: 0141321059

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      02.12.2012 19:17

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      A dog sheds his training and returns to the wild.

      Essentially White Fang in reverse, but in my opinion, a vastly superior book. It follows the story of Buck, a dog from the 'soft southland' who is sold to a dog musher during a gold rush. He swiftly sheds his civilised veneer, stealing to survive and developing a rivalry with a cruel husky called Spitz. It follows his ascent, then his fall as he is sold over and over again, essentially being worked to death for the sake of money. When he and his team is bought by a group of incompetent hobbyists, he comes close to death before being rescued by a decent, Thoreau type of man named John Thornton, who gets by on his wits, gun and hunting skills. Thornton and his friends head into the wilderness to search for gold, with tragic consequences that leads to Buck turning truly feral. Primal strength, civilisation and greed are central themes in this book, with most tragedies being triggered by the desire for gold.

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      02.08.2003 20:52
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      The Question that's been on many people's lips for years is - is The Call Of The Wild a book aimed at adults, or a book aimed at children. People assume because it's got a dog in it, it's straight away aimed at children, but in my opinion, that's not the case. There's a lot of brutality in this book. The fighting in it is pretty full on, and that was rather upsetting for me, let alone a child. Not only that, but London writes it not in a childish manner, nor in a childish tone, but in a very mature tone and manner. Not only that, but, the dog, Buck, doesn't even talk, so it's not like the book is even imaginary, the story could've and could happen. I think London wrote this for adults. Wrote it to be different. For it to be well known and appreciated; and I think he's succeeded. **The Plot** Buck is a happy dog who lives with Judge in a small in Santa Clara Valley. Buck loves nothing more than to sit by the fire with his owner, play with his grandchildren, and sleep in the sun. His four years of life with the family has made Buck a tame and kind dog. But, when the Judge's gardener, one who likes to gamble, has money problems, he kidnaps Buck and sells him. He doesn't sell him to another family. He doesn't sell him to another man. He sells him to become a dog on a sledge-team. Buck's tame and kind nature is suddenly transformed after having to live like he did. He had to walk for miles after miles. Hundreds and thousands even, and doing the same each time. Not only that, but he had to take beatings, and he had to do nothing. He had to sit there and bleed. In pain. A pain, after a while, he got used to. He wanted leadership. He wanted to be the leader of the sledge-team, and to rule the other dogs, and to rule all of them. Not to be horrible, but so they would know who was boss. But, there was already a type of leader. His name being Sp
      itz, and Spitz did not like Buck one bit. Any opportunity they'd have they would fight. They would snarl and growl at each other. Then, when Buck and Spitz's owners at that time weren't looking they began a fight. Spitz winning in the beginning, but Buck later gaining strength to fight back. Buck killed Spitz, and then he was leader. He was leader of the pact. He was the one who told other what to do. He was a different dog. A different dog to the one who used to play with Judge's grandchildren. He'd changed with his surroundings, and if anything Buck was dangerous! **Characters** Buck Buck is the lead character. He is the only character that remains alive throughout the book. Some people might say it is silly that a dog is the lead character in an adult's book, but in actual fact it's quite clever. London is forever pointing out how intelligent Buck is, and my favourite part of the book is when Buck and Spitz are fighting, and London writes: "But Buck possessed a quality that made for greatness - imagination. He fought by instinct, but he could fight by head as well." Page 43 - Chapter III It seems that Buck is the most intelligent dog to have lived, and is always planning things. He knows what he can do, and what he can't do, and uses them to his advantage. If you took a dog today, which had been brought up in a home for four years, learnt that he was fed and watered each day, loved, and never beaten; if you took him, and put him in the wild, it's highly likely that he'd die. Almost certain. And although Buck wasn't put in the wild, he was as good as, as he was beaten badly and he had to go for days without food. What's so brilliant about Buck is he's trained his body to change. To tell his brain that he won't be eating everyday, to survive. Buck is determined throughout th
      e book to stay alive. To stay alive and fight as hard as he can to do so. There's no mention in the book, though, about Buck missing home. It seems that he doesn't want to go home and be back with the Judge, it seems he prefers this life. Buck often heard the people who were looking after him at the time, talking, and he understood each word they were saying. I can't help but wonder whether London is trying to make out whether all dogs can hear, and to show us how special of a dog Buck is. If Buck was a human, I think he'd have gone down with Oliver Twist and all the other classic characters in books, as the bravest and most enjoyable. But, as he's a dog it seems he can't It's sad in a way. **My Opinion** I have read many classic books. I've read Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe - to Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte - and although you have to read them closely to understand the language, it's still easy and very possible to read. But, with Call Of The Wild, I found myself very confused and lost in London's words. I don't know whether it was lack of concentration, or whether London's words were so strong that it was difficult to read. The Call Of The Wild was published in 1902 so I presumed it would be an easy read, but at the beginning I found myself not only confused by getting very bored, and I felt like giving up, and not reading it. I think what London was trying to achieve was a good beginning. A classic one, in fact, and I think he spent a long time on the beginning of the book, because even though it was difficult to read, went you read it again, after reading it once, you appreciate it, and I think that's what he was trying to achieve. I didn't really start enjoying The Call Of The Wild until about 50 pages in. I felt before that, that it was long-winded and just not enjoyable. I often wanted to put it down, but I carried on, and
      now I did I'm extremely glad I did! The Call Of Wild can only be enjoyed when you read it to the very end. That's because it has a story right to the end, and there's even a new story on the last three pages. Although The Call Of The Wild was a very short book, I think London tried very hard to write a good book. I think he wanted to tell people that anything could be written about and made interesting. And I think The Call Of The Wild has changed literature for the better. It has showed people that dogs are animals, but they shouldn't be treated badly. They should be treated equally. And if a child is reading that, it will stick with him or her, and hopefully they'll change the way dogs are treated by some. **Who Should Read The Call Of Wild?** No matter who you are, I highly recommend you read The Call Of The Wild. Not only does it have a good story, it is written wonderfully. If you are planning to read it to your kids, I warn you that at times it's extremely brutal, and it's probably not suitable for kids under 10; unless you censor the brutal parts! **Where Can I Buy The Call Of The Wild?** You can buy this fantastic book for £2.99 from Amazon. Now, you can't get fairer than that, can you? **Final Thoughts** The Call Of The Wild has certainly changed my views on what sort of books to read. I'd have never have read this book a few months back, but now I've realised whatever taste you have, you can enjoy any book if it's written as marvellously as this. So, now, go. Buy. Read. Cry. Appreciate. And you certainly will! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Written By: Matt Roberts.

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        22.08.2002 22:56
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        Jack London's THE CALL OF THE WILD, first published in 1903, is the story of Buck, a courageous dog fighting for survival in the Alaskan wilderness. It is widely considered to be his masterpiece. The book vividly describes the harsh realities of life, for men as well as dogs, in the gold rush of the Far North. THE PLOT The story is set during the Klondike gold rush of 1897. Large and strong dogs are in big demand to pull the sleds between Skagway and Dawson, a long and dangerous trip through savage and treacherous terrain in bitterly cold weather. BUCK, a 140-pound cross between a St. Bernard and a Scotch sheep dog, unfortunately fits the bill. At the start of the tale, he is living a pampered life as the family pet in the sunny Santa Clara valley of California. This all changes when he is kidnapped by the gardener and sold on, eventually ending up with French Canadian couriers who indoctrinate him into being part of a sled dog team. Buck must learn the routines of running with the pack and pulling the sled, whilst coping with the unfamiliar, harsh climate. Facing brutal treatment from his masters, and fierce rivalry from the other dogs, Buck is forced to call upon the instincts of his distant ancestor, the wild wolf, in order to survive in these hostile conditions. A battle for supremacy soon develops between him and the lead dog, Spitz, but as Buck grows stronger and more ferocious, he eventually fights and defeats Spitz to take his position as the lead dog. Buck passes through a succession of masters but finally he finds his best master in John Thornton, who nurses him back to health after ill-treatment and a savage beating from one of the worst of these masters. &
        #66;uck comes to love Thornton and accompanies his party to a remote mine in search of gold. The expedition turns out badly for the men, when they are attacked, and killed, by Yeehat Indians. Buck, hearing the "call of the wild," comp letes his transformation into a wolf-like warrior and seeks revenge. At last, under no human master, he returns to the life of his ancestors. NOT THE PLOT Filled with powerful prose and intensely fast-paced action, this novella is a statement about character as well as an adventure. London traces Buck's transformation/regression from docile, family pet to fierce, wild animal, but always keeps the reader sympathetic to Buck's character. In the end, Buck, after struggling with the dilemma, accepts his true nature and undertakes a journey that transforms him into the legendary "Ghost Dog" of the Klondike. The story of Buck's transformation from a creature of comfort to a beast of burden to a leader of wolves, is reminiscent of a mythical folk legend. A reminder of the thin line betwixt dog and wolf. In "The Call of the Wild" I think the message is that all animals, including humans, descend towards the savage when removed from civilization and forced to rely on strength and cunning to survive. On one level, I feel this book is really a social comment, with strong parallels to Darwin's 'survival of the fittest' theories: Buck survives, and indeed thrives, not only because he is stronger and fitter, but due to his adaptability and speed in learning the rules of his new envoironment - do not resist brute power, but equally, meekness does not mean safety. London says Buck can adapt because 'instincts long dead come alive again' - a kind of collective memory of species. &
        #84;his is illustrated in Buck's dream sequences of a primitive world when dog and man's ancestors first came together. On another level, it's a non-stop, rip-roaring, roller-coaster of a yarn. Great stuff! ©proxam2002

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          18.05.2001 06:24
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          “I was boooorn… under a wandering star, I was boooorn…” “Sigh.” You’re probably not getting the picture. You’re not, are you? “Sigh.” I don’t sound anything like Lee Marvin. I don’t WANT to sound anything like Lee Marvin. “Sigh.” A weekend or two ago my father was entrusted to look after my children for a couple of hours while Michael and I went shopping. What did they do while we were gone? Did they play football? Or Snakes and Ladders? Did he read them a story? Did he let them help him with his latest garden project? Nope, sorry; our survey says, “Nuh uh”. He told them all about a great video they could watch and then pressed play, that’s what my father did. My children watched the film. They brought the video home. They’ve watched the film many times since. You’re with me now? I don’t need to sing it again? I can just say it? “Paint Your Wagon”. Bah and pah. Thanks Dad. That’s one thing. The other is the impending arrival of the long-awaited puppy – coming to this house soon. Excitement abounds among the little ones, they can’t wait. Put these two things together; put Impending New Puppy together with umpteen viewings of Paint Your Wagon and what have you got? The decision as to what the next book to read to your children should be, of course. Ha! See? I may waffle but it’s all relevant you know. The Call of the Wild. Ooh, this was one of my favourites. Like Charlotte’s Web it was one of the first books that picked me up and transported me out of my self-centred, childish world and made me realise that stuff actually happened when I wasn’t about and that the stuff that happened wasn’t always easy, happy stuff either. Like Charlotte’s Web it made me cry. And last week, after they’d gone to bed, as
          I raced through the book ahead of Conor and Kieran, like I always do, like the cheaty mother I am, I cried again. Oh, you’ve probably read Call of the Wild yourself. You probably know all about it already. Maybe, like me, you’ve even shed a tear or two of your own over it. Let me tell you about it again though, let me remind you of Buck, the pampered family pet, the sled dog of the Alaskan Gold Rush, the leader of the wolf pack, and the Ghost Dog of the stories of the Yeehat people. When he was stolen and sold by a family servant Buck was a young dog, just four years old, but in his prime. He was huge, a German Shepherd-St Bernard cross and he’d become the lord of all he surveyed around Judge Miller’s place – he was a lucky dog, born with the strength of one parent and the intelligence of the other. But Buck’s civilised life was about to come to an end, for dogs like him were in demand. Gold had been found in Alaska and men were rushing to find their fortunes. Dogs like Buck were desperately needed to pull the sleds in that harsh, frozen country. And Judge Miller had a servant who had not enough money and too many children to feed. That’s how Buck came to be stolen away from his pampered life and sold into the slavery of the sled dog. Buck learns hard lessons but, thanks to his intelligence, he learns fast. He learns not only how cruel is the Alaskan territory, and how hard the life of a sled dog is but he also learns how cruel and hard man, and other dogs, can be. His first lesson is dealt by the man in the red sweater, the man with the club. His second is dealt by Spitz, the lead dog of the sled team, the dog who kills the first friend he has made. There is so much Buck has to learn; how to dig a ‘nest’ under the snow to keep from freezing at night, how to protect his food and survive on a starvation diet, how to fight and, above all, how to avoid the club. But he learns all his
          lessons well and eventually becomes the leader of the team. The sheer hard work and effort of his snowy journeys seem neverending. Of course you can see all this as a simple story of adventure; Buck and his team deliver the despatches in record time. You can also see it as a metaphor for the way people treat each other and how quickly the rule of violence can become the norm, how easily life can become ‘dog eat dog’. In The Call of the Wild that’s not a pun – in the Alaskan wilderness, as in life, sometimes the doctrine of survival of the fittest becomes all too true. Buck, and his team, pass from the ownership of the hard but fair despatch men into even harder, rougher hands and then on to the foolish but even more cruel ‘gentleman’ prospectors. Starving, desperate, close to death he’s rescued by John Thornton, a man who embodies all the virtues of a kind master and a decent human being. But all the while his experiences and the ancient wilderness of his surrounding are awakening something in Buck; something old, something unrecognised but something natural and instinctive. Often, as he lies by the camp fire, he dreams – he dreams of a man from the past, a man who wears skins, a man who lives in similar fear of constant danger. Some of these passages in The Call of the Wild, the ones where the long-ago animal, the old ways, the natural instinct slowly and surely grow in influence over Buck the once indulged family pet are absolutely beautiful. Buck longs for something but he knows not what. Read it; you’ll see what I mean and you’ll see what it is. One of the things I like best about Jack London and The Call of the Wild now, as an adult, as Jill, the mummy reading to Conor and Kieran, is the lack of condescension in the book’s vocabulary. I know the National Curriculum has its virtues but it has its drawbacks too and one of those drawbacks is the way it encourages
          the limiting of the vocabulary of the reading matter it recommends for the youngest of young children. Babies learn to talk by listening; they listen to adults talking, not only to them, but to each other. They gradually pick up meaning and little by little they learn to translate that into speech of their own. How would they do that if we all limited ourselves in conversation to the most common hundred words or so when they’re around? The Call of the Wild is a children’s book really, although many have said that it’s suitable for adults too, and it is. But largely, it’s an adventure story for children with some strong messages about the way people should treat animals, the way people should treat each other, about nature, about instinct, and about social structure and the abuse of power. The youngest of children will understand the adventure – Kieran is four and you should have seen his eyes shine when Buck pulled the thousand pound sled one hundred yards, just for John Thornton. He loved it. He loved the suspense, he loved the way Buck did the virtually impossible for love of his friend, he loved the numbers (well, children do, don’t they?) but he probably didn’t understand half the words used in that passage – he would never say, “lurching”, “diminishing”, or “jarring” for instance, but he sure as anything understood the narrative and that’s good enough for me. Slowly, slowly, he’ll catch on to the individual words too, but he won’t if he never hears them and that’s simply not good enough for me. So (rant’s over now people, you can breathe a sigh of relief), I reckon you should put The Call of the Wild on your list. It’s such a lovely story; one of the ones you remember from childhood, one of the ones you’ll get all sniffy over when you read it again. It’s also great to read aloud because the strong, fast
          -moving story just carries you along, and your children with you. I was rather hoping it would provide Conor and Kieran with some reinforcement about the responsibilities involved in caring for our soon-to-be new puppy and also about the responsiblities we should all carry in the way we treat other people. And we did have a conversation or two about those things as we read. But I was also hoping they’d enjoy it – and enjoy it they did. That’s the main thing, isn’t it? I hope they treat their new puppy right, I hope they treat each other and everybody else right, and I hope they get the lead out every day, even if it’s raining. Ah, but really, who cares? If they don’t I’ll simply have to nag them – they enjoyed The Call of the Wild, and so did I. That’s the main thing, isn’t it?

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            12.07.2000 06:31
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            This is one of the classics that really should be read be everyone. While I'm not really into Jane Austen or any other classic novelists, this book, by Jack London, really gripped me. It's an extremely compelling tale told in such a way that it's hard to put down. Some people may dismiss it as a children's book due to it's length but it really isn't. I firmly believe anyone would find some element they like in this book. It's very well written, with all the ideas expressed clearly and poetically, and you feel real sympathy towards the main characters (even if you're not a dog-lover =). Go, read, and marvel at its greatness. What's more it can be read online, entirely free. http://www.bibliomania.com/Fiction/London/CallWild/index.html

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          Published by Dover Publications