jack london the red one illustrated

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Jack London - The Red One (Illustrated)

From "The Red One":
There it was! The abrupt liberation of sound! As he timed it with his watch, Bassett likened it to the trump of an archangel. Walls of cities, he meditated, might well fall down before so vast and compelling a summons. For the thousandth time vainly he tried to analyze the tone-quality of that enormous peal that dominated the land far into the strongholds of the surrounding tribes. The mountain gorge which was its source rang to the rising tide of it until it brimmed over and flooded earth and sky and air. With the wantonness of a sick man's fancy, he likened it to the mighty cry of some Titan of the Elder World vexed with misery or wrath. Higher and higher it arose, challenging and demanding in such profounds of volume that it seemed intended for ears beyond the narrow confines of the solar system. There was in it, too, the clamor of protest in that there were no ears to hear and comprehend its utterance.

-- Such the sick man's fancy. Still he strove to analyze the sound. Sonorous as thunder was it, mellow as a golden bell, thin and sweet as a thrummed taut cord of silver -- no; it was none of these, nor a blend of these. There were no words nor semblances in his vocabulary and experience with which to describe the totality of that sound.

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Also includes "The Hussy," "Like Argus of the Ancient Times," and "The Princess."

By Karl Janssen on February 28, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a collection of four stories by Jack London, most of which are very good. The collection is named after the first story, "The Red One", an excellent piece of old school science fiction along the lines of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, or Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World. It tells the story of a naturalist lost on the island of Guadalcanal, searching for a mysterious red object worshipped by the island's natives. It's incredibly inventive, years ahead of its time, suspenseful, brilliantly told, and one of London's best stories.

Another great adventure story is "Like Argus of the Ancient Times", about a former California `49er who, in his seventies, decides to set out for the Klondike for one more chance at striking it rich. While "The Red One" probably deserves a place in London's top ten, "Argus" just might make the top twenty. "The Princess" is about three aged hobos who cross paths and trade stories about their youthful adventures in the South Pacific. It's another well-told yarn, though it suffers a bit from an anticlimactic ending. The weakest story in the collection is "The Hussy" about a railroad worker's quest for gold in Ecuador. It's nothing special.

While this is a solid collection of London stories, I have to dock him a point for some of his descriptive passages of the South Sea island "savages". There's been much debate about London's views on race. I usually give him the benefit of the doubt on that subject, as it may be too much to expect political correctness from century-old stories. However, when you compare "The Red One" to Herman Melville's Typee, for example, the latter proves that even 100 years ago it was possible to write about the natives with a great deal more respect and tact than London displays here.


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