Saturday, December 28, 2013

Martin Eden, by Jack London

Rating: 2/5
270ish pages
Source: Project Gutenberg

Description: This is the semi-autobiographical story of a man who rises up from a working class background to improve his station and become a writer.

Review: I read this because of a project related to 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Its one of two Jack London books on the list in the original edition. In later editions, this book and The Iron Heel are both gone, and The Call of the Wild has been added. This seems like a wise decision, at least where this book is concerned.

We get to watch as Martin Eden struggles to improve his education, sell stories, and impress the woman he's in love with, all while struggling to survive.

I could sympathize with Martin. I could understand his drive and the decisions he made to follow his dreams. However, I really didn't care if he actually achieved his goals and wasn't rooting for him to succeed. Which, given how his life goes after that happens, is probably a good thing. The ending of this book is not a happy one, and a type I personally dislike.

I suppose a hundred years ago, this book may have had something to say about society, but enough fundamental things have changed about how we lived that the reader is unlikely to connect to it at that level.

Give this a miss, and go read The Call of the Wild or "To Build a Fire" instead if you want to read something by Jack London.

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