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Martin Eden (English Edition) Format Kindle
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What follows is the long, arduous journey of Martin's ascent. His struggles as an aspiring writer are totally captivating; one can't help but rejoice in his successes and agonize over his failures. The portions of the book devoted to his literary exploits are so engrossing, the romance between Martin and Ruth often seems a cumbersome distraction. Though a realist and radical in his political and philosophical writings, London was often a hopeless romantic and downright puritanical in his depictions of male/female relations. In his works women are often set on pedestals, and no one gets a higher pedestal than Ruth Morse. Even so, as Mr. and Mrs. Morse deliberate over whether Martin is worthy of their daughter, the reader finds himself wondering whether Ruth is really worthy of Martin. Thankfully, as the book progresses and the characters gain a little maturity, the relationship between Martin and Ruth becomes less idyllic and much more firmly grounded in reality. As Martin's superheroic quest for self-transformation lurches toward fruition, he comes to realize that the result of his metamorphosis is not the paradise he envisioned.
Whether you come to admire Martin or abhor him, this is an exceptionally thought-provoking novel that calls into question the inherent value of social status and intellectual achievement. What begins as a simple boy-meets-girl, rags-to-riches tale gradually progresses into a profound investigation into the complex conflicts of man vs. society, class vs. intellect, artistic integrity vs. exploitation, individualism vs. conformity, and ambition vs. complacency. This semi-autobiographical novel was Jack London's greatest attempt to break free from the ghetto of adventure fiction to which he was so often undeservedly confined, and to write the sort of philosophical literary novel one might expect from a Dickens or a Balzac. To this end he was extremely successful. Martin Eden is a life-changing read that deserves a place on any bookshelf alongside the great classics of literature.
Spoiler alert: Please stop reading now if you'd also like to read this book with no preconceived notions.
I'm glad this wasn't the first of Jack London's works that I read because I was able to see autobiographical parallels of the real Jack London to the fictionalized Martin Eden as the story went on. Certainly some of the very works I read by him in recent months had to have been snapped up for publication, just as Martin Eden's works were, regardless of their merit. Certainly threads of his other tales and life story overlap in this book. I would have been more disappointed by some of the other works I read by him after this powerful piece, too. His depiction of Martin's struggles to better himself to become worthy of his love interest, but which developed into a crazed study and work schedule with only 4 hours of nightly sleep; later deepening into anger and serious depression just when his dreams were finally coming to fruition; and finally an unpremeditated suicide wish, seem to lay out symptoms of a young man developing manic-depression (bipolar disorder). At the start, I never imagined that it would veer off into such a dark and tragic ending. I ached for him to find peace and happiness from the start of this tale to the finish! This was a very engaging work that one can probably not help to think deeply and long about well after the final page has been read.
I'm glad that Amazon offers many classics for free on the Kindle as I probably would have hesitated to break the spine of this book if I chanced an old volume on my shelves. Also, I'm thankful that my Kindle is loaded with 2 dictionaries as I found frequent need to consult them when happening upon somewhat archaic vocabulary I was unfamiliar with. I look forward to finding more works by Jack London to read in the future.
If any of us should still believe that ‘the road less traveled’ is a glorious one, this work will cure him or her of that illusion. But for an occasional fluke (which aspiring writers and the publishing world alike all feed upon), the writer’s life – if Jack London’s is a fair example, and I believe it is – is one of poverty and debilitation – if not downright humiliation. Oh, and did I mention hunger?
But no matter. Go and feast on the ideal if you insist. Just know that the ideal contains damned few calories.
At one point, Martin Eden (the eponymous principal character of this novel) actually does achieve fame and fortune. Is this, then, a kind of ‘Cinderella story?’ Without giving away the actual conclusion of London’s novel, I’ll allow you a glimpse via some of his principal character’s ruminations: “And always was Martin’s maddening and unuttered demand: Why didn’t you feed me then? It was work performed. “The Ring of Bells” and “The Peri and the Pearl” (two of the fictional writer’s short stories) are not changed one iota. They were just as artistic, just as worthwhile, then as now. But you are not feeding me for their sake, nor for the sake of anything else I have written. You’re feeding me because it is the style of feeding just now, because the whole mob is crazy with the idea of feeding Martin Eden” (p. 450).
Antiquated if not downright flawed though it and he may be, I suspect that MARTIN EDEN (the novel) and Martin Eden (the novel’s protagonist) are – just as is London’s superb short story, “To Build a Fire” – memories to last a lifetime. In this age of rampant self-publication and an unbridled quest after the glory of artistic recognition – but in which so few are willing to do the work London obviously did to achieve recognition for his work – this novel should stand as both Bible and roadmap. Or as Dante once wrote over the gates of Hell, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
Brooklyn, NY, U.S.A.
What if life, after working so hard and being misunderstood and laughed at by all you care for, gives you everything you have been dreaming of?
Martin is a boy. A poor boy struggling to survive. He knows deep down that he's someone different, better. Due to a fortunate event he is granted admittance to the upper class. Hence he starts to learn. He is positively craving for knowledge and with the help of Ruth, a young upper class woman, he slowly starts to read books, but mostly he starts to think.
When the love he feels for her grows strong and is returned, it is also met with defiance and rejection by her family. All this will push him to work even harder at his dream of becoming a writer.
Needless to say it will be a difficult path to follow, but just when the moment arrives and everything seems lost forever, together with Ruth's love for him, things change and he becomes his dream.
But will this be enough? Will all the sudden success and acceptance even by the people who scorned him at first, be enough to make him truly happy? Or will everything turn into a sickness deep inside him? An illness gnawing at his brain, ruining his "thinking-machine", pushing him into darkness?
Superb. This book is simply superb.