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The Call of the Wild

March 11, 2010

The most recent book I have read from the list is The Call of the Wild by Jack London.  I wanted to read a challenged book during Freedom to Read Week, and picked it from a display at the library.  It is a quick read, and I read most of it during the boring parts of the women’s  gold medal curling match while the Olympics were on.  I’m not much of a curling fan, so it was mostly long stretches of reading interspersed with the odd bout of cheering. I imagined the cries of “Hurry!” and “Haaaaarrrrrd!” to be those of the dogsled driver mushing his team.

It was a very different story than I had expected. As many people do, I had thought it was a book for children – some bucolic tale about a loveable dog. Not so. The reader is certainly made to identify with Buck, but he is never portrayed in a cuddly way.  I am impressed by how much London packed into so few pages, and various phases of the story.

As for it being banned, I can imagine how it was received in some circles in the first half of the twentieth century.  I don’t get the impression that London intended a subtext or social commentary to the story, but I can see how it could be read into.  In particular Buck’s efforts to undermine and usurp the pack leader could have been viewed unfavourably by regimes sensitive about their grasp on power, and those resistant to suffrage and civil rights.  It was deemed “too radical” at the time, which is a shame because it is a very engaging novel.  Banning books is never the right solution. Ideas are not dangerous, people are.

As for the curling, Sweden won gold and Canada received the silver medal.

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