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The People of the Abyss - Jack London

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Jack London / Paperback / 136 Pages / Book is published 2007-01-01 by The Echo Library

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      28.11.2009 16:00
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      An interesting read

      The People of the Abyss is a short non-fictional book written by Jack London in 1903, a book in which Jack London purposefully dresses down and slums it amongst the folk of the Eastend of London in order to write about it from their point of view. The book had a great effect on George Orwell who would follow his footsteps with books like "Down and Out in Paris and London" and "The Road to Wigan Pier".

      It's a masterful attempt at telling the story of at least 500,000 people in London at that time but although Jack London places himself right in the thick of things, by trying to live on their wages, going to the workhouse and "carrying the banner" (walking around the rainy streets all night due to policemen not allowing people to sleep rough during the night), there are moments where he clearly has enough of slumming it and just goes for a slap up meal and whilst the story is told well, you do always get the feeling that he could walk out at any moment, so does not suffer from the same hopelessness as his subject, the majority of which could probably not write at that time and certainly not get across the descriptions so eloquently.

      It's a pretty interesting book and I like the format of the book which dedicates short chapters to different people or parts of the poverty. There's also plenty of interesting statistics in there regarding sentences, amounts of food, wages and costs of the day and information on the general life conditions.

      It's not quite what I expected when I bought the book but despite being different from what I expected, it was still an excellent read and one I recommend to everyone, particularly if you like history. I find it quite ironic that in this book Jack London writes as the big strong American whose quality of life, leads to a superior physique and abilities and yet he himself died in a similar drunkenly, diseased state as many of the characters in the book.


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