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Martin Eden, Jack London’s semiautobiographical novel about a struggling young writer, is considered by many to be the author’s most mature work. Personifying London’s own dreams of education and literary fame as a young man in San Francisco, Martin Eden’s impassioned but ultimately ineffective battle to overcome his bleak circumstances makes him one of the most memorable and poignant characters Jack London ever created. As Paul Berman points out in his Introduction, “In Martin, [London] created one of the great twisted heroes of American literature . . . a hero doomed from the outset because his own passions are bigger and more complicated than any man could bear.”
Published: Penguin Group on
ISBN: 9781101127469
List price: $12.99
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Published in 1909, three years earlier than G.B Shaw's Pygmalion (1912), Martin Eden is a male Eliza Doolittle. Saving an upper-class gent in a brawl leads to Martin's introduction into this wealthy family, where he falls in love with the daughter, Ruth Morse. From his point of view, Martin realizes that he must 'improve' himself to meet Ruth at an equal level: he sets out to learn proper English, mend his ways, and goes to school to learn all subjects. Bent on giving up his life as a sailor, he tries to change jobs, and hits on the idea that a career in writing is the best way to go to make a fortune, which would put him on an equal footing with Ruth. Years of toil and rejection follow, but Martin perseveres. In the meantime, however, Ruth's parents steer her away from an unthinkable marriage with Martin Eden, who, in their eyes, will always remain an unworthy choice. Losing Ruth, and achieving fame and riches through the (same) stories which were rejected so many times before, Martin Eden becomes disillusioned. He writes no new stories, and in the end goes back to sea, where he came from.At just over 400 pages, Martin Eden by Jack London is a remarkably readable novel. It is semi-autobiographical, and puts an interesting angle of the reality of becoming a writer, in particular getting stories published in literary magazines. With class differences in the young American nation being less important than in Shaw's Great Britain, the Morse family supposedly nouveau riche, class plays a minor role in the novel.more
London's best, I think. I understand he is outre among serious (meaning academic) critics, but I still find his character development and the pacing of his narrative first-rate.And besides, one of Tom Waits' best songs, "Shiver Me Timbers", has that line "Oh I know Martin Eden gonna be proud of me/ Many before me have been called by the sea," so that sort of obligates us to read it once in a while.more
In my opinion one develops a taste for London when young - ready for an Adventure... But he can be appreciated at any age and read many times, each time offering something new. And so Martin Eden, after the initial head spin at - say - 13, caused by the hero's valiant struggle, his rise and (inevitable) fall, becomes "simply" a very good read. No trivia, just Life.more
1070 Martin Eden, by Jack London (read 1 Sep 1970) I was not impressed by this book. Crude writing, I thought. [SPOILER] The story of a writer who is a boorish egotist, starves, becomes successful, and then commits suicide. Surely London's other stuff is not this contrived? I have only read The Call of the Wild, and that was when I was a boy. The date I read it was Nov 10, 1942--I was then 14.more
Jack London writes well. This semi-autobiographical tale set in turn of the century Bay Area in California relates the struggles, triumphs and ultimate surrender of Martin Eden. The book was an easy read and written so well that it kept my interest throughout. I was getting tired of his refusals but finally he wins out. But after all that struggle he becomes empty. I was surprised by the ending. His death throes were, once again, written well.more
sounds slightly depressed, a little removed from his real self. but as a portrait of a young man in the making, it feels real and sincere. almost one of a kind for an american.more
This is the first book I have read by Jack London, which may or may not be a good thing. Because this is semi-autobiographical, it gave me a good introduction to him, but also left me wondering what his other books are like. Needless to say, if the writing is similar to this, I can not wait to take on his other books. He has a wonderful way with words and seems to have a consciousness of the plights of different types of people and characterizes wonderfully, while sympathizing more with the "lesser" class. Absolutely wonderful.more
A semi-autobiographical story about a young man from the lower class in San Fransciso who meets an upper middle class girl. The meeting opens his eyes to a whole new world of luxury and sophistication. His infatuation with the beautiful girl drives him to improve himself and he turns to writing as a means of work and expression. A seemingly simple tale of rags-to-riches but with dark overtones.more
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Reviews

Published in 1909, three years earlier than G.B Shaw's Pygmalion (1912), Martin Eden is a male Eliza Doolittle. Saving an upper-class gent in a brawl leads to Martin's introduction into this wealthy family, where he falls in love with the daughter, Ruth Morse. From his point of view, Martin realizes that he must 'improve' himself to meet Ruth at an equal level: he sets out to learn proper English, mend his ways, and goes to school to learn all subjects. Bent on giving up his life as a sailor, he tries to change jobs, and hits on the idea that a career in writing is the best way to go to make a fortune, which would put him on an equal footing with Ruth. Years of toil and rejection follow, but Martin perseveres. In the meantime, however, Ruth's parents steer her away from an unthinkable marriage with Martin Eden, who, in their eyes, will always remain an unworthy choice. Losing Ruth, and achieving fame and riches through the (same) stories which were rejected so many times before, Martin Eden becomes disillusioned. He writes no new stories, and in the end goes back to sea, where he came from.At just over 400 pages, Martin Eden by Jack London is a remarkably readable novel. It is semi-autobiographical, and puts an interesting angle of the reality of becoming a writer, in particular getting stories published in literary magazines. With class differences in the young American nation being less important than in Shaw's Great Britain, the Morse family supposedly nouveau riche, class plays a minor role in the novel.more
London's best, I think. I understand he is outre among serious (meaning academic) critics, but I still find his character development and the pacing of his narrative first-rate.And besides, one of Tom Waits' best songs, "Shiver Me Timbers", has that line "Oh I know Martin Eden gonna be proud of me/ Many before me have been called by the sea," so that sort of obligates us to read it once in a while.more
In my opinion one develops a taste for London when young - ready for an Adventure... But he can be appreciated at any age and read many times, each time offering something new. And so Martin Eden, after the initial head spin at - say - 13, caused by the hero's valiant struggle, his rise and (inevitable) fall, becomes "simply" a very good read. No trivia, just Life.more
1070 Martin Eden, by Jack London (read 1 Sep 1970) I was not impressed by this book. Crude writing, I thought. [SPOILER] The story of a writer who is a boorish egotist, starves, becomes successful, and then commits suicide. Surely London's other stuff is not this contrived? I have only read The Call of the Wild, and that was when I was a boy. The date I read it was Nov 10, 1942--I was then 14.more
Jack London writes well. This semi-autobiographical tale set in turn of the century Bay Area in California relates the struggles, triumphs and ultimate surrender of Martin Eden. The book was an easy read and written so well that it kept my interest throughout. I was getting tired of his refusals but finally he wins out. But after all that struggle he becomes empty. I was surprised by the ending. His death throes were, once again, written well.more
sounds slightly depressed, a little removed from his real self. but as a portrait of a young man in the making, it feels real and sincere. almost one of a kind for an american.more
This is the first book I have read by Jack London, which may or may not be a good thing. Because this is semi-autobiographical, it gave me a good introduction to him, but also left me wondering what his other books are like. Needless to say, if the writing is similar to this, I can not wait to take on his other books. He has a wonderful way with words and seems to have a consciousness of the plights of different types of people and characterizes wonderfully, while sympathizing more with the "lesser" class. Absolutely wonderful.more
A semi-autobiographical story about a young man from the lower class in San Fransciso who meets an upper middle class girl. The meeting opens his eyes to a whole new world of luxury and sophistication. His infatuation with the beautiful girl drives him to improve himself and he turns to writing as a means of work and expression. A seemingly simple tale of rags-to-riches but with dark overtones.more
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