White Fang is a novel by American author Jack London (1876–1916) — and the name of the book's eponymous character, a wild wolfdog. First serialized in Outing magazine, it was published in 1906. The story details White Fang's journey to domestication in Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush. It is a companion novel (and a thematic mirror) to London's best-known work, The Call of the Wild, which is about a kidnapped, domesticated dog embracing his wild ancestry to survive and thrive in the wild.
Much of White Fang is written from the viewpoint of the titular canine character, enabling London to explore how animals view their world and how they view humans. White Fang examines the violent world of wild animals and the equally violent world of humans. The book also explores complex themes including morality and redemption.
As early as 1925, the story was adapted to film, and it has since seen several more cinematic adaptations, including a 1991 film starring Ethan Hawke and a 2018 original film for Netflix.
John Griffith London (born John Griffith Chaney; January 12, 1876 – November 22, 1916) was an American novelist, journalist, and social activist. A pioneer in the world of commercial magazine fiction, he was one of the first writers to become a worldwide celebrity and earn a large fortune from writing. He was also an innovator in the genre that would later become known as science fiction.
His most famous works include The Call of the Wild and White Fang, both set in the Klondike Gold Rush, as well as the short stories "To Build a Fire", "An Odyssey of the North", and "Love of Life". He also wrote about the South Pacific in stories such as "The Pearls of Parlay", and "The Heathen".
London was part of the radical literary group "The Crowd" in San Francisco and a passionate advocate of unionization, workers' rights, socialism, and eugenics. He wrote several works dealing with these topics, such as his dystopian novel The Iron Heel, his non-fiction exposé The People of the Abyss, The War of the Classes, and Before Adam.
PART I: The Wild, PART II: Born of the Wild, PART III: The Gods of the Wild, PART IV: The Superior Gods, PART V: The Tame.
This companion novel to The Call of the Wild flips the original story on its head. Instead of it being a dog feeling the call of the wild, we have a wolf feeling the call of the companionship of man, in spite of mistreatment. The story doesn’t quite work as well when reversed in that way, though.
Both White Fang and Buck suffer mistreatment at the hands of men that is incredibly painful for an animal lover to read about. Whereas this served to make it understandable why Buck leaves for the wild, though, it makes it difficult to understand why White Fang doesn’t do the same. Yes, eventually he meets a master who loves him and cares for him, but for years prior that is not the case. Perhaps London is attempting to demonstrate the intense loyalty of dogs to their masters whether or not they deserve it. It is true that animal rights workers see this sort of situation over and over again, yet White Fang is mostly wolf. It is difficult to believe his wild nature would not take over at some point, particularly when being mistreated. If this story was told of a dog and not a wolf, it would make more sense.
That said, London’s strength at delving into the animal world without personifying them to be more human than they are is still incredibly strong here. The animals are not personified but they are humanized. By that I mean, their personalities and instincts are clear and understandable. It is difficult to imagine anyone reading this book then proceeding to abuse an animal. They are truly remarkable creatures, London excels at demonstrating this.
Overall, this book is not as amazing as The Call of the Wild but it is well-worth the read for more time spent seeing animals through Jack London’s eyes. Recommended.
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