“[Jack London was] a great gobbler-up of the world, physically and intellectually, the kind of writer who went to a place and wrote his dreams into it, the kind of writer who found an Idea and spun his psyche around it.”—E.L. Doctorow
Martin Eden (1909) is a novel by American writer Jack London. The book follows the tradition of the Künstlerroman, a narrative that traces the life and development of an artist, to tell the story of a young man not unlike London himself. Part fiction, part autobiography, Martin Eden examines the consequences of dreams and achievements, successes and failures, for a young artist struggling with fame. The novel is heavily influenced by London’s socialist values, and dissects the interwoven nature of class and the arts while critiquing the individualist mentality promoted by such figures as Nietzsche.
The young Martin Eden lives in Oakland where he struggles to rise above the circumstances of his birth. Despite his impoverished background, he has hopes of becoming a successful writer, and has spent years educating himself toward that goal. A dreamer, Eden is also driven to marry Ruth Morse, a woman he loves despite their vastly different lives—he is a sailor, she comes from a bourgeois family. It soon becomes clear that his intentions to write and to marry are entirely intertwined. When he finds success, however, breaking through with publishers and with the elite literati of Oakland, he finds that Ruth’s love is far from guaranteed, and that dreams rarely come to fruition. Martin Eden is a story of the American ideal, of class and identity, and of one man determined to make it, whatever the cost.
With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Jack London’s Martin Eden is a classic of American literature reimagined for modern readers.