Thursday, 22 December 2016

Deal Me in Challenge: To Build a Fire by Jack London (1902)

 Card Drawn:

I can still feel the cold in my bones after reading Jack London's terrifying and suspenseful To Build a Fire, which is surely one of the great pieces of literary naturalism of the 20th century. In contrast to realism, here, the environment and an objective detachment is emphasized rather than a subjective representation of "reality." The natural setting of the Alaskan wilderness is so vividly depicted that it becomes the main character in the story. The author's meticulous attention to detail and absorbing prose effectively places the reader in the dire shoes of the protagonist who finds himself isolated (other than his dog companion) in this harsh winter landscape. This is an unforgettable story about survival and while familiar ideas such as man versus nature or human perseverance might seem a little on the nose, the story loses none of its thematic or emotional impact. To Build a Fire had me on the edge of my seat until the very last sentence. Please excuse me while I get myself a warm cup of hot cocoa and stay warm indoors until winter is over.


He worked slowly and carefully, keenly aware of his danger. Gradually, as the flame grew stronger, he increased the size of the twigs with which he fed it. He squatted in the snow, pulling the twigs out from their entanglement in the brush and feeding directly to the flame. He knew there must be no failure.

You can read this story HERE.

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