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Jack London Quotes

66 of the best book quotes from Jack London
  1. #1
    “At the man’s heels trotted a dog, a big native husky, the proper wolf dog, gray-coated and without any visible or temperamental difference from its brother the wild wolf. The animal […] knew that it was no time for traveling. Its instinct told it a truer tale than the man’s judgment.”
  2. #2
    “It did not lead him to meditate upon ... man’s frailty ... able only to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold. ”
  3. #3
    “It experienced a vague but menacing apprehension that subdued it and made it slink along at the man’s heels. ”
  4. #4
    “The thought of drove him on, but he ran no more than a hundred feet, when he staggered and pitched headlong. It was his last panic. When he had recovered his breath and control, he sat up and entertained in his mind the conception of meeting death with dignity.”
  5. #5
    “He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances. ”
  6. #6
    “He spoke to the dog ... but in his voice was a strange note of fear that frightened the animal. ”
  7. #7
    “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.”
  8. #8
    “A certain fear of death, dull and oppressive, came to him. ”
  9. #9
    “The dog was disappointed and yearned back toward the fire. This man did not know cold. Possibly all the generations of his ancestry had been ignorant of cold, of real cold, of cold one hundred and seven degrees below freezing point. But the dog knew; all its ancestry knew, and it had inherited the knowledge”
  1. #10
    “Empty as the man’s mind was of thoughts, he was keenly observant, and he noticed the changes in the creek, the curves and bends and timber jams, and always he sharply noted where he placed his feet.”
  2. #11
    “The old-timer had been very serious in laying down the law that no man must travel alone in the Klondike after fifty below.”
  3. #12
    “It was ... time to lie snug in a hole ... and wait for a curtain of cloud to be drawn across the face of ... space. ”
  4. #13
    “The only caresses it had ever received were the caresses of the whip-lash and of harsh and menacing throat-sounds that threatened the whip-lash. ”
  5. #14
    “Well, here he was; he had had the accident; he was alone; and he had saved himself. Those old-timers were rather womanish, some of them, he thought. All a man had to do was keep his head, and he was all right. Any man who was a man could travel alone.”
  6. #15
    “In a month no man had come up or down that silent creek.”
  7. #16
    “Working carefully from a small beginning, he soon had a roaring fire, over which he thawed the ice from his face and in the protection of which he ate his biscuits. For the moment the cold of space was outwitted.”
  8. #17
    “And all the while the dog sat and watched him, a certain yearning wistfulness in its eyes, for it looked upon him as the fire provider, and the fire was slow in coming. ”
  9. #18
    “He was a newcomer to the land, a chechaquo, and this was his first winter. The trouble with him was that he was without imagination. ”
  1. #19
    “Later the dog whined loudly. And still later it crept close to the man and caught the scent of death. This made the animal bristle and back away. A little longer it delayed, howling under the stars that leaped and danced and shone brightly in the cold sky. Then it turned and trotted up the trail in the direction of the camp it knew, where were the other food providers and fire providers. ”
  2. #20
    “He was bound for the old claim on the left fork of Henderson Creek, where the boys were already. They had come over across the divide from the Indian Creek Country, while he had come the round-about way to take a look at the possibilities of getting out logs in the spring from the islands in the Yukon. ”
  3. #21
    “This was a female of his kind, and it was a law of his kind that the males must not fight the females. He did not know anything about this law, for it was no generalization of the mind, not a something acquired by experience in the world. He knew it as a secret prompting, as an urge of instinct - of the same instinct that made him howl at the moon and starts of nights and that made him fear death and the unknown.”
  4. #22
    “The Wild still lingered in him and the wolf in him merely slept.”
  5. #23
    “It was the worst hurt he had ever known.”
  6. #24
    “White Fang knew the law well: to oppress the weak and obey the strong.”
  7. #25
    “He became quicker of movement than the other dogs, swifter of foot, craftier, deadlier, more lithe, more lean with ironlike muscle and sinew, more enduring, more cruel more ferocious, and more intelligent. He had to become all these things, else he would not have held his own nor survived the hostile environment in which he found himself.”
  8. #26
    “It was during this period that he might have hearkened to the memories of the lair and the stream and run back to the Wild. But the memory of his mother held him...So he remained in his bondage waiting for her.”
  9. #27
    “He did not want to bite the hand, and he endured the peril of it until his instinct surged up in him, mastering him with its insatiable yearning for life.”
  1. #28
    “He was a silent fury who no torment could tame.”
  2. #29
    “I agree with you, Mr. Scott. That dog’s too intelligent to kill. ”
  3. #30
    “But there were other forces at work in the cub, the greatest of which was growth. Instinct and law demanded of him obedience. But growth demanded disobedience...In the end, one day, fear and obedience were swept away by the rush of life, and the cub straddled and sprawled toward the entrance.”
  4. #31
    “Because of this new feeling within him, he ofttimes elected discomfort and pain for the sake of his god. ”
  5. #32
    “The hands of society are harsh, and this man was a striking sample of its handiwork. He was a beast.”
  6. #33
    “They were his environment, these men, and they were moulding the clay of him into a more ferocious thing than had been intended by Nature. Nevertheless, Nature had given him plasticity. Where many another animal would have died or had its spirit broken, he adjusted himself and lived, and at no expense of the spirit.”
  7. #34
    “White Fang had ceased eating, lost heart, and allowed every dog of the team to thrash him.”
  8. #35
    “Much of the Wild had been lost, so that to them the Wild was the unknown, the terrible, the ever menacing and ever warring. But to him, in appearance and action and impulse, still clung the Wild.”
  9. #36
    “Weedon Scott had set himself the task of redeeming White Fang -- or rather, of redeeming mankind from the wrong it had done White Fang. It was a matter of principle and conscience. He felt that the ill done White Fang was a debt incurred by man and that it must be paid.”
  1. #37
    “They were fire-makers! They were gods! ”
  2. #38
    “The aim of life was meat. Life itself was meat. Life lived on life. There were the eaters and the eaten. The law was: EAT OR BE EATEN. He did not formulate the law in clear, set terms and moralize about it. He did not even think the law; he merely lived the law without thinking about it at all.”
  3. #39
    “Of his own choice, he came in to sit by man’s fire and to be ruled by him.”
  4. #40
    “Growth is life, and life is forever destined to make for light ”
  5. #41
    “He was realizing his own meaning in the world; he was doing that for which he was made-killing meat and battling to kill it. He was justifying his existence, than which life can do no greater; for life achieves its summit when it does to the uttermost that which it was equipped to do ”
  6. #42
    “He must master or be mastered; while to show mercy was a weakness. Mercy did not exist in the primordial life. It was misunderstood for fear, and such misunderstandings made for death. Kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, was the law; and this mandate, down out of the depths of Time, he obeyed.”
  7. #43
    “It was heartbreaking, only Buck’s heart was unbreakable.”
  8. #44
    “They were not half living, or quarter living. They were simply so many bags of bones in which sparks of life flutter faintly.”
  9. #45
    “There is a patience of the wild—dogged, tireless, persistent as life itself—that holds motionless for endless hours the spider in its web, the snake in its coils, the panther in its ambuscade; this patience belongs peculiarly to life when it hunts its living food.”
  1. #46
    “The Yukon was straining to break loose the ice that bound it down.”
  2. #47
    “Thornton knelt down by Buck’s side. He took his head in his two hands and rested cheek on cheek. He did not playfully shake him, as was his wont, or murmur soft love curses; but he whispered in his ear. ‘As you love me, Buck.‘”
  3. #48
    “Here was neither peace, nor rest, nor a moment’s safety. All was confusion and action, and every moment life and limb were in peril.”
  4. #49
    “There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.”
  5. #50
    “Love, genuine passionate love, was his for the first time.”
  6. #51
    “Buck’s first day . . . was like a nightmare. Every hour was filled with shock and suprirse. He had been suddenly jerked from the heart of civilization and flung into the heart of things primordial.”
  7. #52
    “The ghostly winter silence had given way to the great spring murmur of awakening life. This murmur arose from all the land, fraught with the joy of living.”
  8. #53
    “It marked his adaptability, his capacity to adjust himself to changing conditions, the lack of which would have meant swift and terrible death. It marked, further, the decay or going to pieces of his moral nature, a vain thing and a handicap in the ruthless struggle for existence.”
  9. #54
    “He did not steal for the joy of it, but because of the clamor of his stomach.”

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  1. #55
    “But especially he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading signs and sounds as a man may read a book, and seeking for the mysterious something that called—called, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him to come.”
  2. #56
    “There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive. This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad in a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was alive and that fled swiftly before him through the moonlight.”
  3. #57
    “Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and on and on, he knew not where or why; nor did he wonder where or why, the call sounding imperiously, deep in the forest. But as often as he gained the soft unbroken earth and the green shade, the love for John Thornton drew him back to the fire again.”
  4. #58
    “Buck multiplied himself, attacking from all sides . . . wearing out the patience of creatures preyed upon, which is a lesser patience than that of creatures preying.”
  5. #59
    “Not only did he learn by experience, but instincts long dead became alive again.”
  6. #60
    “He was a killer, a thing that preyed, living on the things that lived, unaided, alone, by virtue of his own strength and prowess, surviving triumphantly in a hostile environment where only the strong survived.”
  7. #61
    “A man with a club was a lawgiver, a master to be obeyed, though not necessarily conciliated.”
  8. #62
    “That was the way. No fair play. Once down, that was the end of you.”
  9. #63
    “In their very great misery they had become insensible to the bite of the lash or the bruise of the club.”
  10. #64
    “In short, the things he did were done because it was easier to do them than not to do them.”
  11. #65
    “He became possessed of a great pride in himself, which communicated itself like a contagion to his physical being. It advertised itself in all his movements, was apparent in the play of every muscle, spoke plainly as speech in the way he carried himself.”
  12. #66
    “When a halt was made, they dropped down in the traces like dead dogs, and the spark dimmed and paled and seemed to go out.”
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