Review: Jack London's "People of the Abyss" - Edward Clark Marsh - The Bookman

Review: Jack London's "People of the Abyss" - Edward Clark Marsh - The Bookman

by: Edward Clark Marsh | publication date: February 1, 1904 | Publication: The Bookman | volume: 18 | journal issue: 6 | pages: 647-648

Most of these respectable gentlemen (and ladies, too, though I grieve to include them) imagine they are at least partially actuated by a pure love of mankind. Probably Jack London does. He is not. Jack is not a dull boy. On the contrary, he is decidedly precocious. But he is a healthy, vigorous, young nomad, with all a healthy boy's love of adventure. When he descended among the People of the Abyss in the English capital last year the zest of adventure was one of his motives. But the biggest motive of all, if the result of his adventure may be taken as evidence, was his desire for material to make into a book. Of course Mr. London is a very young man. If he were not he would not have revealed himself so frankly. According to the documentary evidence, he may have spent six weeks in his researches, possibly two months; scarcely more. In this time he set himself not merely to gather statistics regarding the people of London's East End, but to get at the very heart of their lives—to learn how they work, sleep, eat, drink, think, love, hate, struggle, and die. To do this, he lived, he says, their own life and endured all the hardships that fall to their lot. If Mr. London imagines that he really did this, then his idea of how "the other half" lives is vastly amusing.

An article that is highly critical of Jack London's account of poverty in London's East End as depicted in his book "People of the Abyss." The author mentions that unlike the experiences of Josiah Flynt, London's was inauthentic, as he was never really destitute, and his tone patronizing,

Public domain.