Call of the Wild

Reception and legacy

The Call of the Wild was enormously popular from the moment it was published. H. L. Menken wrote of London's story: "No other popular writer of his time did any better writing than you will find in Call of the Wild."[4] A reviewer for The New York Times wrote of it in 1903: "If nothing else makes Mr. London's book popular, it ought to be rendered so by the complete way in which it will satisfy the love of dog fights apparently inherent in every man."[38] The reviewer for The Atlantic Monthly wrote that it was a book: "untouched by bookishness...The making and the achievement of such a hero [Buck] constitute, not a pretty story at all, but a very powerful one."[39]

The book secured London a place in the canon of American literature.[32] The first printing of 10,000 copies sold out immediately; it is still one of the best known stories written by an American author, and continues to be read and taught in schools.[23][40] It has been published in 47 languages.[41] London's first success, the book secured his prospects as a writer and gained him a readership that stayed with him throughout his career.[23][32]

After the success of The Call of the Wild London wrote to Macmillan in 1904 proposing a second book (White Fang) in which he wanted to describe the opposite of Buck: a dog that transforms from wild to tame: "I'm going to reverse the process...Instead of devolution of decivilization ... I'm going to give the evolution, the civilization of a dog."[42]

An unrelated film called "The Call of the Wild"[43] was directed by D. W. Griffith in 1908. The first adaptation of the novel was a silent film made in 1923.[44] The 1935 version starring Clark Gable and Loretta Young expanded John Thornton's role and was the first "talkie" to feature the story. The 1972 The Call of the Wild starring Charlton Heston as John Thornton was filmed in Finland.[45]  


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