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The Sea-Wolf [Anglais] [Broché]

Jack London , John Sutherland
4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
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Extrait

Chapter One



I scarcely know where to begin, though I sometimes facetiously place the cause of it all to Charley Furuseth's credit. He kept a summer cottage in Mill Valley, under the shadow of Mount Tamalpais, and never occupied it except when he loafed through the winter months and read Nietzsche and Schopenhauer to rest his brain. When summer came on, he elected to sweat out a hot and dusty existence in the city and to toil incessantly. Had it not been my custom to run up to see him every Saturday afternoon and to stop over till Monday morning, this particular January Monday morning would not have found me afloat on San Francisco Bay.

Not but that I was afloat in a safe craft, for the Martinez was a new ferry-steamer, making her fourth or fifth trip on the run between Sausalito and San Francisco. The danger lay in the heavy fog which blanketed the bay, and of which, as a landsman, I had little apprehension. In fact, I remember the placid exaltation with which I took up my position on the forward upper deck, directly beneath the pilot-house, and allowed the mystery of the fog to lay hold of my imagination. A fresh breeze was blowing, and for a time I was alone in the moist obscurity–yet not alone, for I was dimly conscious of the presence of the pilot, and of what I took to be the captain, in the glass house above my head.

I remember thinking how comfortable it was, this division of labor which made it unnecessary for me to study fogs, winds, tides, and navigation, in order to visit my friend who lived across an arm of the sea. It was good that men should be specialists, I mused. The peculiar knowledge of the pilot and captain sufficed for many thousands of people who knew no more of the sea and navigation than I knew. On the other hand, instead of having to devote my energy to the learning of a multitude of things, I concentrated it upon a few particular things, such as, for instance, the analysis of Poe's place in American literature–an essay of mine, by the way, in the current Atlantic. Coming aboard, as I passed through the cabin, I had noticed with greedy eyes a stout gentleman reading the Atlantic, which was open at my very essay. And there it was again, the division of labor, the special knowledge of the pilot and captain which permitted the stout gentleman to read my special knowledge on Poe while they carried him safely from Sausalito to San Francisco.

A red-faced man, slamming the cabin door behind him and stumping out on the deck, interrupted my reflections, though I made a mental note of the topic for use in a projected essay which I had thought of calling "The Necessity for Freedom: A Plea for the Artist." The red-faced man shot a glance up at the pilot-house, gazed around at the fog, stumped across the deck and back (he evidently had artificial legs), and stood still by my side, legs wide apart, and with an expression of keen enjoyment on his face. I was not wrong when I decided that his days had been spent on the sea.

"It's nasty weather like this here that turns heads gray before their time," he said, with a nod toward the pilot-house.

"I had not thought there was any particular strain," I answered. "It seems as simple as A, B, C. They know the direction by compass, the distance, and the speed. I should not call it anything more than mathematical certainty."

"Strain!" he snorted. "Simple as A, B, C! Mathematical certainty!"

He seemed to brace himself up and lean backward against the air as he stared at me. "How about this here tide that's rushin' out through the Golden Gate?" he demanded, or bellowed, rather. "How fast is she ebbin'? What's the drift, eh? Listen to that, will you? A bell-buoy, and we're a-top of it! See 'em alterin' the course!"

From out of the fog came the mournful tolling of a bell, and I could see the pilot turning the wheel with great rapidity. The bell, which had seemed straight ahead, was now sounding from the side. Our own whistle was blowing hoarsely, and from time to time the sound of other whistles came to us from out of the fog.

"That's a ferry-boat of some sort," the newcomer said, indicating a whistle off to the right. "And there! D'ye hear that? Blown by mouth. Some scow schooner, most likely. Better watch out, Mr. Schooner-man. Ah, I thought so. Now hell's a-poppin' for somebody!"

The unseen ferry-boat was blowing blast after blast, and the mouth-blown horn was tooting in terror-stricken fashion.

"And now they're payin' their respects to each other and tryin' to get clear," the red-faced man went on, as the hurried whistling ceased.

His face was shining, his eyes flashing with excitement, as he translated into articulate language the speech of the horns and sirens. "That's a steam siren a-goin' it over there to the left. And you hear that fellow with a frog in his throat–a steam schooner as near as I can judge, crawlin' in from the Heads against the tide."

A shrill little whistle, piping as if gone mad, came from directly ahead and from very near at hand. Gongs sounded on the Martinez. Our paddle-wheels stopped, their pulsing beat died away, and then they started again. The shrill little whistle, like the chirping of a cricket amid the cries of great beasts, shot through the fog from more to the side and swiftly grew faint and fainter. I looked to my companion for enlightenment.

"One of them dare-devil launches," he said. "I almost wish we'd sunk him, the little rip! They're the cause of more trouble. And what good are they? Any jackass gets aboard one and runs it from hell to breakfast, blowin' his whistle to beat the band and tellin' the rest of the world to look out for him, because he's comin' and can't look out for himself! Because he's comin'! And you've got to look out, too! Right of way! Common decency! They don't know the meanin' of it!"

I felt quite amused at his unwarranted choler, and while he stumped indignantly up and down I fell to dwelling upon the romance of the fog. And romantic it certainly was–the fog, like the gray shadow of infinite mystery, brooding over the whirling speck of earth; and men, mere motes of light and sparkle, cursed with an insane relish for work, riding their steeds of wood and steel through the heart of the mystery, groping their way blindly through the Unseen, and clamoring and clanging in confident speech the while their hearts are heavy with incertitude and fear.

The voice of my companion brought me back to myself with a laugh. I too had been groping and floundering, the while I thought I rode clear-eyed through the mystery.

"Hello; somebody comin' our way," he was saying. "And d'ye hear that? He's comin' fast. Walking right along. Guess he don't hear us yet. Wind's in wrong direction."

The fresh breeze was blowing right down upon us, and I could hear the whistle plainly, off to one side and a little ahead.

"Ferry-boat?" I asked.

He nodded, then added, "Or he wouldn't be keepin' up such a clip." He gave a short chuckle. "They're gettin' anxious up there."

I glanced up. The captain had thrust his head and shoulders out of the pilot-house, and was staring intently into the fog as though by sheer force of will he could penetrate it. His face was anxious, as was the face of my companion, who had stumped over to the rail and was gazing with a like intentness in the direction of the invisible danger.

Then everything happened, and with inconceivable rapidity. The fog seemed to break away as though split by a wedge, and the bow of a steamboat emerged, trailing fog-wreaths on either side like seaweed on the snout of Leviathan. I could see the pilot-house and a white-bearded man leaning partly out of it, on his elbows. He was clad in a blue uniform, and I remember noting how trim and quiet he was. His quietness, under the circumstances, was terrible. He accepted Destiny, marched hand in hand with it, and coolly measured the stroke. As he leaned there, he ran a calm and speculative eye over us, as though to determine the precise point of the collision, and took no notice whatever when our pilot, white with rage, shouted, "Now you've done it!"

On looking back, I realize that the remark was too obvious to make rejoinder necessary.

"Grab hold of something and hang on," the red-faced man said to me. All his bluster had gone, and he seemed to have caught the contagion of preternatural calm. "And listen to the women scream," he said grimly–almost bitterly, I thought, as though he had been through the experience before.

The vessels came together before I could follow his advice. We must have been struck squarely amidships, for I saw nothing, the strange steamboat having passed beyond my line of vision. The Martinez heeled over, sharply, and there was a crashing and rending of timber. I was thrown flat on the wet deck, and before I could scramble to my feet I heard the scream of the women. This it was, I am certain,–the most indescribable of blood-curdling sounds,–that threw me into a panic. I remembered the life-preservers stored in the cabin, but was met at the door and swept backward by a wild rush of men and women. What happened in the next few minutes I do not recollect, though I have a clear remembrance of pulling down life-preservers from the overhead racks, while the red-faced man fastened them about the bodies of an hysterical group of women. This memory is as distinct and sharp as that of any picture I have seen. It is a picture, and I can see it now,–the jagged edges of the hole in the side of the cabin, through which the gray fog swirled and eddied; the empty upholstered seats, littered with all the evidences of sudden flight, such as packages, hand satchels, umbrellas, and wraps; the stout gentleman who had been reading my essay, encased in cork and canvas, the magazine ... --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Poche .

Revue de presse

"London's...is a vision of exceptional and crucial vitality."
--James Dickey --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 432 pages
  • Editeur : OUP Oxford; Édition : Reissue (23 avril 2009)
  • Collection : Oxford World's Classics
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0199554943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199554942
  • Dimensions du produit: 19,3 x 12,7 x 2,8 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 291.417 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
  • Table des matières complète
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0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 aventures 9 juillet 2009
Par emmanuelw
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
aventures et bruits et mal et bien et violence et fureur et doute et voilà un vrai livre
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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  268 commentaires
68 internautes sur 72 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Entertaining 6 septembre 2010
Par AJ Duckworth - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Having a Kindle helps one to discover books which otherwise would certainly have been missed. This is one of them.

It's the tale of a rather bookish "gentleman" who is virtually press-ganged to work on a sailing ship. Through vicious hardship he is faced with the choice of survival (and in the process compromising his morality) or almost certain death. The main villain, if you will, is the Captain of the ship, who's physical strength and presence is overwhelming.

Some of the language is a little archaic, but the Kindle dictionary didn't let me down.

It's well worth the read. Get past the first ten pages, and you may find it hard to put down.
29 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Solid adventure story. 22 septembre 2010
Par C. Plater - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
It has been many years since I've read any Jack London and it was good to get back in the adventure story groove. He does paint a good visual in one's mind of the settings even with the 19th century language. The story moves along pretty well although some of the flowery romantic speech seem to drag for me. The conclusion was sufficiently satisfying and it is suitable reading for young readers.
35 internautes sur 39 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A philosophical discourse wrapped around a sea adventure. 3 juillet 2002
Par Dave Schwinghammer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche|Achat vérifié
When I first dipped into THE SEA WOLF, I was struck by its similarity to CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS. Humphrey van Weydon's ferry-steamer, The Martinez, is rammed by another ship in San Francisco Bay in a heavy fog. Van Weydon is rescued by Wolf Larsen, captain of the seal-hunter, The Ghost. Larsen refuses to take Van Weydon ashore, laughing at his offer of money. Once again, I am reminded of another famous book, MOBY DICK, and Larsen is Captain Ahab. Ruthless and single-minded, Larsen decides to make Van Weydon his cabin boy on this four month trip to provide seal pelts for fashionable American women. Van Weydon resists until Larsen catches hold of his arm and squeezes. A man of letters who freely admits never working a day in his life, Van Weydon does everything he's told from that point on, including aiding and abetting the Captain as he mistreats his crew.
Early on we learn some of Larsen's motivation when he and Van Weydon have a literary discussion. We discover that Larsen is a literary bully. He's never spent a day in school, but he reads Shakespeare, Robert Browning and John Milton. London's theme becomes clear and Larsen and van Weydon argue about immortality, van Weydon declaring that man has a soul; Larsen retorting with a Scrooge-like "Bah!" And suddenly we have the first gleanings of an existentialist novel. If there were no God, how should man behave? Larsen, seeing evil everywhere he looks, decides he will do whatever is best for him personally.
The conflict is not precisely good versus evil. Van Weydon is a weakling, a pampered rich man, a coward. There is also much to admire about Wolf Larsen. He outduels seven men during a mutiny. He's constantly reading, constantly trying to understand. When Van Weydon's story arc begins to ascend--he learns seamanship, rebuilds the ship when its masts are destroyed--we can't help but give Larsen a bit of credit. Larsen never took no for an answer, no task was too difficult.
Another interesting element in the book is London's fledgling steps toward women's liberation. Van Weydon falls in love with another castaway, Maud Brewster, and together they overcome storms, isolation on a small seal rookery, and sabotage.
I guess I knew London was a better writer than the man who wrote CALL OF THE WILD (His short story "To Build a Fire" is one of my favorites), but I wasn't expecting a philosophical discourse wrapped around a sea adventure.
41 internautes sur 46 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 You will not be disappointed. 9 juin 2010
Par A. Osorio - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Great book! I had never read Jack London before but after visiting his burnt down estate in Northern California I became interested in his writing. This book is excellent, entertaining and fast paced. The kindle edition seems not to be missing any pages. Great Free Download.
17 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 London's beliefs about dreaming, freedom and redemption 2 juillet 1998
Par Fernando Beirão - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
It makes me very sad that only a few people knows about this book. It tells the story of a man who finds himself in prison. He is trapped in a madman's shirt, in order to confess facts he knew nothing about. Obliged to pass days and nights without being able to move a single muscle, living in complete darkness inside special punishment cells, he manages to avoid getting nuts and yet bravely resists his tortures' will. Developing a way of traveling with his mind, he escapes from all human suffering and still has the chance to watch his actions of past lives, finally understanding how most of his present beliefs and flaws had been built.This is a tale about FREEDOM and REDEMPTION! It makes you firmly believe that free spirits are unbeatable and that we can dream no matter how life is. For anybody who is familiar with London's deep feelings about life and dreaming and freedom, I must say that this is his best book ever. A glimpse of the deepest beliefs of a great writer who left us so soon. A MUST!!!
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