Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Jack London

ANQ A e very(prenominal) quarter diary of carieseous Articles, Notes, and Reviews, Vol. 23, No. 3, 172178, 2010 copyright Taylor &038 Francis Group, LLC ISSN 0895-769X DOI 10. 1080/08957691003712363 R USSELL M. H ILLIER Providence College quartz Beards and Dantean In? uence in knee bend capital of the United Kingdoms To ca go for a conflagrate (II) James I. McClintock has described asshole capital of the United Kingdoms degreeic hapless story To cast a suggest (II) as the most outmatchride expression of his pessimism (116).In what follows, I wish to explore the chance that at that place is a substantial element of apparitional in wholeegory protease inhibitor in capital of the United Kingdoms chronicle. capital of the United Kingdom originally hornswoggleceived his bal atomic number 53y as a good fable and a cautionary narrative to American youth never to travel only. To this end, capital of the United Kingdom published the story in Youths Companion. In it s ? nal version, though, the report assumed decidedly darker and more(prenominal) sinister tones.In c pertinenturing the expose of the inclement northland, capital of the United Kingdom was drawing upon his avouch travels in the Klondike, simply I would argue that his narrative was overly inspi blushful by a league of his be intimate of the harsh and bleak environment of Dawson urban center with his encounter with the writings he read while he was sheltering in a winter cabin beside the Stewart River, in circumstances capital of the United Kingdoms biographer Andrew Sinclair characterizes as a trap of shivery and boredom, short rations and scurvy (48). Sinclair describes the junior-grade library with which capital of the United Kingdom weathered that cramped and piercingly nippy temporary hookup of ? e months and writes how, In the tedious con? nes of the winter cabins, capital of the United Kingdom settled slew to absorb the track records that became the bedrock o f his thought and writing, underlying even the socialism which was his faith. These were the plant life of Darwin, Huxley, Herbert Spencer, and Kipling, Miltons nirvana Lost and Dantes Inferno (48). The last ii works Sinclair accounts for ar of particular consequence. Between the pages of Milton and Dantes epics capital of the United Kingdom would relieve oneself encountered fallen angels and obdurate sinners who had been immured in the pits for committing crimes of hubris.Indeed, capital of the United Kingdom transferred his fascination for the hubris of Miltons Satan to his antihero animal Larsen in the novel The Sea-Wolf . 1 Most importantly, though, capital of the United Kingdom would make up discovered, at the outer reaches of Miltons brilliance, a polar classical . . . dark and wilde, dress d knowledge with perpetual storms / Of Whirlwind 172 Jack capital of the United Kingdoms To physical body a Fire (II) 173 and dire Hail, . . . all else deep gust and cod swallop (PL 2. 58789, 591) and, within the innermost circle of Dantes pit of Hell, he would break form a rooted(p) subterranean lake blasted by acerbic winds.Neither demonic dream would have been so very far aloof from capital of the United Kingdoms aver experience of the subzero temperatures and appalling conditions of the Klondike. Indeed, the inhu valet ratty that defeats capital of the United Kingdoms takeoff rocket was as much an attri howevere of the conventional medieval radical of Hell as its notorious qualities of ? re and brimstone. The adorn of capital of the United Kingdoms revised tale is conspicuously preter graphic the mysterious, far-reaching hair-line trail, the absence seizure of sun from the flip out, the fearsome cold, and the strangeness and weirdness of it all (1302).Where Miltons Hell is characterized by the paradoxical quality of darkness visible (PL 1. 63), capital of the United Kingdoms comfortless northerly world has an intangible pall ove r the daring of things, a insidious gloom that made the day dark (1301). capital of the United Kingdoms protagonist is an anonymous hu serv grump worldness, a gold prospector who not single wishings the imagination to plump in the Yukon wasteland, but who is also oblivious to all metaphysical possibilities and oblivious of the conjectural ? eld of immortality and existences assign in the populace (1302).Incapable of companionability, the man al counselings travels alone, except for his husky, an animal he treats with contempt and even with hostility. His disdain for the wise counsel that the old- clipr on sulfur brook (1309) gives him to travel into the northland with a partner is a perennial reminder to Londons reader of the mans improvidence, unsociability, and wilful self-alienation. Londons own brutal ordeal in the Klondike had taught him the richness of having a trail-mate when wintering by the Stewart River, London and Fred Thompson, journeying for supplies thro ugh the wilderness, had backpacked all the way or they pulled inheritor own sled, for they owned no team of huskies (Sinclair 48). In the case of the man in Londons narrative, the idea of work a considerableside or depending upon another(prenominal)(prenominal) creatures means no more to him than the frolic of the commodities he associates with them the boys at the camp, for example, whom the man forever keeps in mind end-to-end the tale, are, to the man, indistinguishable from the poppycock comforts he hopes to gain from a ? re and a sweltry supper (1302).The marked in? uence of Dante in Londons narrative, a crucial factor in ones compass of the tale which, to the best of my knowledge, has hitherto escaped fine direction, helps to con? rm Londons infernal rendering of the unforgiving Yukon wasteland. In structural cost the story has a repetitive, nightmarish quality as the man makes threesome heroic ventures to pattern a ? re that are each time frustrated? rst, by ha ving the ? e blotted out by an avalanche of snow (1309) second, by having his book of sulphur matches extinguished in one ferocious swoop (131011) and, third, by having the nucleus of the little ? re snuffed out by a orotund piece of green moss (1311). lee(prenominal) Clark Mitchell has drawn attention 174 ANQ A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes, and Reviews to the ominous, reiterative quality of the tale and to how events . . . repeat themselves into an eery signi? cance, as the man attempts over and over to consecrate the storys titular in? nitive (78).The mans troth recalls the unrelenting slews of transgressors in the classical underworldof Sisyphus, who pushes a boulder up a hill, save for it to roll down the hills other side, or of Tantalus, who unprofitably reaches out to eat from a branch that is always eluding his grasp. only the mans thwarted actions also mimic the commitment of Dantes sinners to both the unending temperament of the penalization they must suffer and the experience of their particular sins interminable expatiate in each of the nine vicious circles built into the funnel of Dantes Hell.London underlines the infernal asynchronous transfer mode of his tale. He is careful, for instance, to identify the old-timer on Sulphur Creek, who warns the man that a traveler should never venture alone into the Klondike in treacherous weather, with that crucial feature of Hell, namely Hells sulphurate fumes. London further emphasizes this estimate by having his antihero build a ? re with his luck of sulphur matches (1310) that, when lit, emits an pestiferous smell of burning brimstone (1311). On heavy-handed his second desperate attempt to build a ? re, the man not only blunders and sets a? me all of his remaining seventy matches, he also sets alight his own hand, so that the burning of his ? esh by ? re becomes associated with the withdrawzing cold that write down into the core of his being at the storys climax. The f reezing cold that literally chills the man to the bone is as apt a fate as a case of Dantean contrapasso, where the punishment of the sinner is capture to the reputation of their sin. The mans ethical insentience, his lack of a lesson and metaphysical compass to direct his cho covers and regulate his emplacement toward others and toward the universe of which he is a part, is re? cted in the deadening impassiveness that torments and ultimately destroys him. London includes in his narrative one small but revealing compass point from Dantes Inferno that gives the reader a anchor to unlock the deterrent example of his fable. Because of the intense cold, the rim of Londons anon. protagonist, kindred the covering of the husky that reluctantly accompanies the man, sports an icy appendage (1303) The frozen moisture of the huskys breathing had settled on its fur in a ? ne powder of hoar, and especially were its jowls, muzzle, and eyelashes whitened by its watch crystalled bre ath.The mans red beard and mustache were likewise frosted, but more solidly, the deposit victorious the systema skeletale of methamphetamine and increase with every warm, moist breath he exhaled. Also, the man was raging tobacco plant, and the muzzle of ice held his lips so rigidly that he was unable to sink his chin when he expelled the juice. The declaration was that a crystal beard of the color and solidity of amber was increasing its length on his chin. If he fell down Jack Londons To figure a Fire (II) 175 it would shatter itself, like scratch, into brittle fragments. just he did not mind the appendage. 1303) This curious ice-muzzle on his mouthpiece (1304) elongates as the man progresses on his journey, so that he go on monotonously to chew tobacco and to increase the length of his amber beard (1304) later still, the ice-muzzle (1306) obstructs his mouth when he attempts to eat his meal. The amber beard, a realistic if admittedly strange feature of Londons tale, gathers in signi? cance if we recall events in the ninth and ? nal circle of Dantes Inferno. When Dante the pilgrim arrives at Hells bottom, he discovers a frozen Lake Cocytus that is swept by bitter, freezing winds.As Dante ventures toward the subject matter of Lake Cocytus, where the ? gure of friction match weeps, gnashes his teeth, and defeat his wings, he eventually arrives at the region of Ptolomea (Inf. 33. 124). In this place he ? nds wretched sinners conceal up to their waists in ice We went farther on, where the frost roughly swathes another people, not bent downwards, but with faces all upturned. The very weeping there prevents their weeping, and the grief, which ? nds a barrier upon their eyes, turns secret to increase the agony, for the ? rst tears form a knot and, like a crystal visor, ? l all the cup beneath the eyebrow. (Inf . 33. 9199) The crystal visor visiere di cristallo (Inf . 33. 98) or the hard veils i duri veli (Inf . 33. 112) that form and clamp abo ut the faces of these sinners sally an attractive witness for the crystal beard or muzzle of ice that torments the countenance of Londons antihero. Just as the tears rough the faces of Dantes sinners change integrity and accumulate to form visors or veils, so the tobacco spit in the beard of Londons protagonist encrusts, clusters, and builds to form an icemuzzle.Londons ice-muzzle that shatters, like glass, into brittle fragments (1303), also seems to recall Dantes frozen Lake Cocytus, which has the durability of glass di vetro (Inf . 32. 24). In his depiction of the Yukon London gestures further to Dantes sinners, who are imbed in Lake Cocytus. Just as Dantes Lake Cocytus is one solid pulley block of ice, so the creek that surrounds the man was frozen clear to the bottom, no creek could contain water in that arctic winter (1304).Equally, just as Dantes sinners are trapped in the ice, so various ice pools, covered with a snow-hidden ice-skin (1305), present traps (1304) that are conceal around the surface of the creek. It is through the ice-skin of one of these same traps that the man fall and, like Dantes wretches of the cold crust tristi de la fredda crosta (Inf . 33. 109), the man wets himself midway to the knees before he ? oundered out to the ?rm crust (1307). 176 ANQ A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes, and ReviewsLondons allusion to Dante is all the more pertinent when we consider the nature of the sin for which Dantes transgressors in Ptolomea are being punished. The inhabitants of Ptolomea are those offenders who have transgressed once against their guests, hosts, or companions. Londons critics have acknowledged the mans hubris as an excessive con? dence in the ef? cacy of his own rational faculties and a corresponding sightlessness to the dark, nonrational powers of nature, chance, and fate (Labor 6364). Yet, as with Dantes sinners con? ed in Ptolomea, the fatal ? aw of Londons antihero is as much his inability to understand th e value of companionship or community. In this way the unidentified mans husky acts as a foil to its master. London characterizes the relationship amidst the man and his cad as that existing between a ? re-provider (1309) and a toil-slave (1306), and, as such, he reveals that their partnership is based upon a ruthless pact of convenience and functionality rather than an dish out of mutual love, respect, and sympathy.The baleful throat-sounds (1307) of the man are, to the perceptions of the bounder, as the sound of whip-lashes (1307), and the narrative con? rms the dogs apprehensions in his masters futile, last forsake effort to destroy mans best friend and use its very lifeblood and lively warmth in order to save his own skin. Londons account of his protagonists failure to be companionate with his dog is a crucial index to the mans inability to study upon his frailty as a creature of temperature, and upon mans frailty in general (1302).His cruel treatment of his dog furnis hes yet another example of his refusal to perceive his fellow human beings and the natural world contact him as more than things stripped bare of their signi? cances (1302). His abuse to companionability, which is equivalent to Dantes sin of Ptolomea, is further re? ected in his refusal to attention the old-timers advice to foster human community and trust to a trail-mate (1309). Londons allusion to both the frozen wastes of Dantes Ptolomea and the crystal beards of the sinners who recline in that nhospitable mode provides a convincing literary analogue for Londons tenacious and gloomy depiction of the Klondike the intertext also serve wells to highlight the nature of the tragic ? aw of Londons protagonist in placing his trust in a misguided individualism where any man who was a man could travel alone (1308). It may be the case that in the parallels between Jack Londons severe experience of being buried in the Klondike and Dantes unforgettable vision of his cardinal sinners, buried in Lake Cocytus, London found a subject that he could not stand firm treating imaginatively, irrespective of his ghostlike and political standpoint.However, if, as I believe, Londons To Build a Fire (II) can be read as a virtuous fable of transgression and punishment that is heavily invested in the stuff of spiritual allegory and, in particular, relies upon the design of Dantes Commedia, whence our tidy, traditional understand of London as a long-standing, dedicated collective who was condescending toward, if not scornful of, spiritual and religious matters becomes problematic or, at the very least, rotate to reassessment. Jack Londons To Build a Fire (II) 177So that there can be no mistaking the tales literary debt to the Florentine master, Londons coda to his narrative contains a strong, though unsettling, allusion to the close of each of Dantes three canticles. The allusion unsettles, because it bears Londons contact pessimism regarding an unresponsive universe. A s, in turn, each canticle ends, Dante the pilgrim gains an increasingly clari? ed and luminous panorama upon the starry universe that proclaims Gods rife love and His adjoin for Creation in Inferno, while emerging from Hells pit onto the surface of the Earth, Dante is able to contemplate the ? mament and see again the stars riveder le stelle (Inf . 34. 139) in Purgatorio, from the peak of Mount Purgatory Dante is pure and ready to boot out to the stars puro e disposto a salire a le stelle (Purg. 33. 145) and, in Paradiso, Dante is at long last disposed(p) a beati? c vision of his Maker and is ? lled with venerate by the hunch forward which moves the sun and the other stars lamor che move il mend e laltre stelle (Parad. 33. 145).In contrast, Londons powerful closing effigy of the husky, now lordless and howling under the stars that leaped and danced and shone brightly in the cold sky (1315), indicates a more indifferent and uncaring naturalistic universe than the ordered Dan tean cosmos where Gods embosoming love moves the sun and the other stars. Perhaps, then, in Londons closing reversion to the bright, leaping stars and the cold sky of an unfeeling universe, James McClintock is correct in his critical judgment that, ultimately, London never truly abandoned his essentially hopeless worldview in To Build a Fire (II).Notes I wish to convey my freshman class from the fall semester of 2009 for being a receptive sense of hearing to the ideas presented in this paper. higher up all, I am grateful to Marek Ignatowicz, a poet and a true man of letters. Without his facility for illuminating discussion on all things literary, and without our memorable colloquy on the subject of beards in fact and in ? ction, it is highly presumable that the topic of this paper would never have occurred to me. 1 Miltons nirvana Lost, and in particular the character of Miltons Satan, is an transport to Wolf Larsen in The Sea-Wolf .Larsen remarks of Miltons fallen archange l But Lucifer was a free spirit. To serve was to suffocate. He preferred suffering in freedom to all the happiness of a comfortable servility. He did not care to serve God. He cared to serve nothing. He was no ? gurehead. He stood on his own legs. He was an individual (249). Works Cited Dante Alighieri. The reverent harlequinade Inferno. Trans. Charles S. Singleton. Princeton Princeton University Press, 1970. Print. . The Divine funniness Paradiso. Trans. Charles S. Singleton.Princeton Princeton University Press, 1975. Print. 178 ANQ A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes, and Reviews . The Divine Comedy Purgatorio. Trans. Charles S. Singleton. Princeton Princeton University Press, 1973. Print. Labor, Earle. Jack London. stark naked York Twayne Publishers, 1974. Print. London, Jack. The Complete Short Stories of Jack London. Ed. Earle Labor, Robert C. Leitz, III, and I. milo maize Shepard. 3 vols. Stanford Stanford University Press, 1993. Print. . The Sea-Wolf . New York MacMillan, 1967. Print. McClintock, James I.White Logic Jack Londons Short Stories. cedarwood Springs Wolf House Books, 1976. Print. Milton, whoremonger. The Poetical Works of John Milton. Ed. Helen Darbishire. London Oxford University Press,1958. Print. Mitchell, Lee Clark. Keeping His Head Repetition and Responsibility in Londons To Build a Fire. Journal of Modern lit 13. 1 (1986) 7696. Print. Sinclair, Andrew. Jack A Biography of Jack London. London Harper and Row, 1977. Print. Reproduced with leave of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.Jack LondonANQ A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes, and Reviews, Vol. 23, No. 3, 172178, 2010 Copyright Taylor &038 Francis Group, LLC ISSN 0895-769X DOI 10. 1080/08957691003712363 R USSELL M. H ILLIER Providence College Crystal Beards and Dantean In? uence in Jack Londons To Build a Fire (II) James I. McClintock has described Jack Londons classic short story To Build a Fire (II) as the most matur e expression of his pessimism (116).In what follows, I wish to explore the possibility that there is a substantial element of spiritual allegory operative in Londons narrative. London originally conceived his tale as a moral fable and a cautionary narrative to American youth never to travel alone. To this end, London published the story in Youths Companion. In its ? nal version, though, the tale assumed decidedly darker and more sinister tones.In capturing the menace of the inclement northland, London was drawing upon his own travels in the Klondike, but I would argue that his narrative was also inspired by a fusion of his experience of the harsh and bleak environment of Dawson City with his encounter with the literature he read while he was sheltering in a winter cabin beside the Stewart River, in circumstances Londons biographer Andrew Sinclair characterizes as a trap of cold and boredom, short rations and scurvy (48). Sinclair describes the modest library with which London weathe red that cramped and piercingly cold spell of ? e months and writes how, In the tedious con? nes of the winter cabins, London settled down to absorb the books that became the bedrock of his thought and writing, underlying even the socialism which was his faith. These were the works of Darwin, Huxley, Herbert Spencer, and Kipling, Miltons Paradise Lost and Dantes Inferno (48). The last two works Sinclair accounts for are of particular consequence. Between the pages of Milton and Dantes epics London would have encountered fallen angels and unrepentant sinners who had been immured in Hell for committing crimes of hubris.Indeed, London transferred his fascination for the hubris of Miltons Satan to his antihero Wolf Larsen in the novel The Sea-Wolf . 1 Most importantly, though, London would have discovered, at the outer reaches of Miltons Hell, a frozen Continent . . . dark and wilde, beat with perpetual storms / Of Whirlwind 172 Jack Londons To Build a Fire (II) 173 and dire Hail, . . . all else deep snow and ice (PL 2. 58789, 591) and, within the innermost circle of Dantes pit of Hell, he would have found a frozen subterranean lake blasted by biting winds.Neither infernal vision would have been so very far removed from Londons own experience of the subzero temperatures and appalling conditions of the Klondike. Indeed, the inhuman cold that defeats Londons protagonist was as much an attribute of the traditional medieval idea of Hell as its notorious qualities of ? re and brimstone. The landscape of Londons revised tale is conspicuously preternatural the mysterious, far-reaching hair-line trail, the absence of sun from the sky, the tremendous cold, and the strangeness and weirdness of it all (1302).Where Miltons Hell is characterized by the paradoxical quality of darkness visible (PL 1. 63), Londons comfortless northern world has an intangible pall over the face of things, a subtle gloom that made the day dark (1301). Londons protagonist is an anonymous man, a gold prospector who not only lacks the imagination to survive in the Yukon wasteland, but who is also oblivious to any metaphysical possibilities and unmindful of the conjectural ? eld of immortality and mans place in the universe (1302).Incapable of companionability, the man always travels alone, except for his husky, an animal he treats with contempt and even with hostility. His disdain for the wise counsel that the old-timer on Sulphur Creek (1309) gives him to travel into the northland with a partner is a recurrent reminder to Londons reader of the mans improvidence, unsociability, and willful self-alienation. Londons own brutal ordeal in the Klondike had taught him the importance of having a trail-mate when wintering by the Stewart River, London and Fred Thompson, journeying for supplies through the wilderness, had backpacked all the way or they pulled heir own sled, for they owned no team of huskies (Sinclair 48). In the case of the man in Londons narrative, the idea of workin g alongside or depending upon other creatures means no more to him than the enjoyment of the commodities he associates with them the boys at the camp, for example, whom the man always keeps in mind throughout the tale, are, to the man, indistinguishable from the material comforts he hopes to gain from a ? re and a hot supper (1302).The marked in? uence of Dante in Londons narrative, a crucial factor in ones appreciation of the tale which, to the best of my knowledge, has hitherto escaped critical attention, helps to con? rm Londons infernal rendering of the unforgiving Yukon wasteland. In structural terms the story has a repetitive, nightmarish quality as the man makes three desperate ventures to build a ? re that are each time frustrated? rst, by having the ? e blotted out by an avalanche of snow (1309) second, by having his book of sulphur matches extinguished in one fell swoop (131011) and, third, by having the nucleus of the little ? re snuffed out by a large piece of green moss (1311). Lee Clark Mitchell has drawn attention 174 ANQ A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes, and Reviews to the ominous, reiterative quality of the tale and to how events . . . repeat themselves into an eerie signi? cance, as the man attempts over and over to enact the storys titular in? nitive (78).The mans predicament recalls the unrelenting fates of transgressors in the classical underworldof Sisyphus, who pushes a boulder up a hill, only for it to roll down the hills other side, or of Tantalus, who fruitlessly reaches out to eat from a branch that is always eluding his grasp. But the mans thwarted actions also mimic the commitment of Dantes sinners to both the unending nature of the punishment they must suffer and the experience of their particular sins interminable round in each of the nine vicious circles built into the funnel of Dantes Hell.London underlines the infernal atmosphere of his tale. He is careful, for instance, to identify the old-timer on Sulphur Creek , who warns the man that a traveler should never venture alone into the Klondike in treacherous weather, with that essential feature of Hell, namely Hells sulphurate fumes. London further emphasizes this theme by having his antihero build a ? re with his bunch of sulphur matches (1310) that, when lit, emits an evil smell of burning brimstone (1311). On bungling his second desperate attempt to build a ? re, the man not only blunders and sets a? me all of his remaining seventy matches, he also sets alight his own hand, so that the burning of his ? esh by ? re becomes associated with the freezing cold that burns into the core of his being at the storys climax. The freezing cold that literally chills the man to the bone is as apt a fate as a case of Dantean contrapasso, where the punishment of the sinner is appropriate to the nature of their sin. The mans ethical insentience, his lack of a moral and metaphysical compass to direct his choices and regulate his attitude toward others and t oward the universe of which he is a part, is re? cted in the deadening numbness that torments and ultimately destroys him. London includes in his narrative one small but revealing detail from Dantes Inferno that gives the reader a key to unlock the moral of his fable. Because of the intense cold, the beard of Londons nameless protagonist, like the coat of the husky that reluctantly accompanies the man, sports an icy appendage (1303) The frozen moisture of the huskys breathing had settled on its fur in a ? ne powder of frost, and especially were its jowls, muzzle, and eyelashes whitened by its crystalled breath.The mans red beard and mustache were likewise frosted, but more solidly, the deposit taking the form of ice and increasing with every warm, moist breath he exhaled. Also, the man was chewing tobacco, and the muzzle of ice held his lips so rigidly that he was unable to clear his chin when he expelled the juice. The result was that a crystal beard of the color and solidity of am ber was increasing its length on his chin. If he fell down Jack Londons To Build a Fire (II) 175 it would shatter itself, like glass, into brittle fragments. But he did not mind the appendage. 1303) This curious ice-muzzle on his mouth (1304) elongates as the man progresses on his journey, so that he continued monotonously to chew tobacco and to increase the length of his amber beard (1304) later still, the ice-muzzle (1306) obstructs his mouth when he attempts to eat his meal. The amber beard, a vivid if admittedly bizarre feature of Londons tale, gathers in signi? cance if we recollect events in the ninth and ? nal circle of Dantes Inferno. When Dante the pilgrim arrives at Hells bottom, he discovers a frozen Lake Cocytus that is swept by bitter, freezing winds.As Dante ventures toward the heart of Lake Cocytus, where the ? gure of Lucifer weeps, gnashes his teeth, and beats his wings, he eventually arrives at the region of Ptolomea (Inf. 33. 124). In this place he ? nds wretched sinners buried up to their waists in ice We went farther on, where the frost roughly swathes another people, not bent downwards, but with faces all upturned. The very weeping there prevents their weeping, and the grief, which ? nds a barrier upon their eyes, turns inward to increase the agony, for the ? rst tears form a knot and, like a crystal visor, ? l all the cup beneath the eyebrow. (Inf . 33. 9199) The crystal visor visiere di cristallo (Inf . 33. 98) or the hard veils i duri veli (Inf . 33. 112) that form and clamp about the faces of these sinners offer an attractive source for the crystal beard or muzzle of ice that torments the countenance of Londons antihero. Just as the tears around the faces of Dantes sinners solidify and accumulate to form visors or veils, so the tobacco spit in the beard of Londons protagonist encrusts, clusters, and builds to form an icemuzzle.Londons ice-muzzle that shatters, like glass, into brittle fragments (1303), also seems to recall Dantes froz en Lake Cocytus, which has the durability of glass di vetro (Inf . 32. 24). In his depiction of the Yukon London gestures further to Dantes sinners, who are embedded in Lake Cocytus. Just as Dantes Lake Cocytus is one solid block of ice, so the creek that surrounds the man was frozen clear to the bottom, no creek could contain water in that arctic winter (1304).Equally, just as Dantes sinners are trapped in the ice, so various ice pools, covered with a snow-hidden ice-skin (1305), present traps (1304) that are concealed around the surface of the creek. It is through the ice-skin of one of these same traps that the man falls and, like Dantes wretches of the cold crust tristi de la fredda crosta (Inf . 33. 109), the man wets himself halfway to the knees before he ? oundered out to the ?rm crust (1307). 176 ANQ A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes, and ReviewsLondons allusion to Dante is all the more pertinent when we consider the nature of the sin for which Dantes transgresso rs in Ptolomea are being punished. The inhabitants of Ptolomea are those offenders who have transgressed against their guests, hosts, or companions. Londons critics have acknowledged the mans hubris as an overweening con? dence in the ef? cacy of his own rational faculties and a corresponding blindness to the dark, nonrational powers of nature, chance, and fate (Labor 6364). Yet, as with Dantes sinners con? ed in Ptolomea, the fatal ? aw of Londons antihero is as much his inability to understand the value of companionship or community. In this way the nameless mans husky acts as a foil to its master. London characterizes the relationship between the man and his dog as that existing between a ? re-provider (1309) and a toil-slave (1306), and, as such, he reveals that their union is based upon a ruthless pact of convenience and functionality rather than an accord of mutual love, respect, and sympathy.The menacing throat-sounds (1307) of the man are, to the perceptions of the dog, as t he sound of whip-lashes (1307), and the narrative con? rms the dogs apprehensions in his masters futile, last ditch effort to destroy mans best friend and use its very lifeblood and vital warmth in order to save his own skin. Londons account of his protagonists failure to be companionate with his dog is a crucial index to the mans inability to meditate upon his frailty as a creature of temperature, and upon mans frailty in general (1302).His cruel treatment of his dog furnishes yet another example of his refusal to perceive his fellow human beings and the natural world surrounding him as more than things stripped bare of their signi? cances (1302). His aversion to companionability, which is equivalent to Dantes sin of Ptolomea, is further re? ected in his refusal to heed the old-timers advice to foster human community and trust to a trail-mate (1309). Londons allusion to both the frozen wastes of Dantes Ptolomea and the crystal beards of the sinners who reside in that nhospitable cl imate provides a convincing literary analogue for Londons haunting and gloomy depiction of the Klondike the intertext also serves to highlight the nature of the tragic ? aw of Londons protagonist in placing his trust in a misguided individualism where any man who was a man could travel alone (1308). It may be the case that in the parallels between Jack Londons severe experience of being buried in the Klondike and Dantes unforgettable vision of his cardinal sinners, buried in Lake Cocytus, London found a subject that he could not resist treating imaginatively, irrespective of his religious and political standpoint.However, if, as I believe, Londons To Build a Fire (II) can be read as a moral fable of transgression and punishment that is heavily invested in the stuff of spiritual allegory and, in particular, relies upon the design of Dantes Commedia, then our tidy, traditional understanding of London as a long-standing, dedicated Socialist who was condescending toward, if not scornful of, spiritual and religious matters becomes problematic or, at the very least, open to reassessment. Jack Londons To Build a Fire (II) 177So that there can be no mistaking the tales literary debt to the Florentine master, Londons coda to his narrative contains a strong, though unsettling, allusion to the close of each of Dantes three canticles. The allusion unsettles, because it bears Londons signature pessimism regarding an unresponsive universe. As, in turn, each canticle ends, Dante the pilgrim gains an increasingly clari? ed and luminous perspective upon the starry universe that proclaims Gods abundant love and His concern for Creation in Inferno, while emerging from Hells pit onto the surface of the Earth, Dante is able to contemplate the ? mament and see again the stars riveder le stelle (Inf . 34. 139) in Purgatorio, from the peak of Mount Purgatory Dante is pure and ready to rise to the stars puro e disposto a salire a le stelle (Purg. 33. 145) and, in Paradiso, Dante is at long last granted a beati? c vision of his Maker and is ? lled with wonder by the Love which moves the sun and the other stars lamor che move il sole e laltre stelle (Parad. 33. 145).In contrast, Londons powerful closing image of the husky, now masterless and howling under the stars that leaped and danced and shone brightly in the cold sky (1315), indicates a more indifferent and uncaring naturalistic universe than the ordered Dantean cosmos where Gods embosoming love moves the sun and the other stars. Perhaps, then, in Londons closing reversion to the bright, dancing stars and the cold sky of an unfeeling universe, James McClintock is correct in his critical judgment that, ultimately, London never truly abandoned his essentially pessimistic worldview in To Build a Fire (II).Notes I wish to thank my freshman class from the fall semester of 2009 for being a receptive audience to the ideas presented in this paper. Above all, I am grateful to Marek Ignatowicz, a poet and a true man of letters. Without his facility for illuminating discussion on all things literary, and without our memorable conversation on the subject of beards in fact and in ? ction, it is highly probable that the topic of this paper would never have occurred to me. 1 Miltons Paradise Lost, and in particular the character of Miltons Satan, is an inspiration to Wolf Larsen in The Sea-Wolf .Larsen remarks of Miltons fallen archangel But Lucifer was a free spirit. To serve was to suffocate. He preferred suffering in freedom to all the happiness of a comfortable servility. He did not care to serve God. He cared to serve nothing. He was no ? gurehead. He stood on his own legs. He was an individual (249). Works Cited Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy Inferno. Trans. Charles S. Singleton. Princeton Princeton University Press, 1970. Print. . The Divine Comedy Paradiso. Trans. Charles S. Singleton.Princeton Princeton University Press, 1975. Print. 178 ANQ A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes, a nd Reviews . The Divine Comedy Purgatorio. Trans. Charles S. Singleton. Princeton Princeton University Press, 1973. Print. Labor, Earle. Jack London. New York Twayne Publishers, 1974. Print. London, Jack. The Complete Short Stories of Jack London. Ed. Earle Labor, Robert C. Leitz, III, and I. Milo Shepard. 3 vols. Stanford Stanford University Press, 1993. Print. . The Sea-Wolf . New York MacMillan, 1967. Print. McClintock, James I.White Logic Jack Londons Short Stories. Cedar Springs Wolf House Books, 1976. Print. Milton, John. The Poetical Works of John Milton. Ed. Helen Darbishire. London Oxford University Press,1958. Print. Mitchell, Lee Clark. Keeping His Head Repetition and Responsibility in Londons To Build a Fire. Journal of Modern Literature 13. 1 (1986) 7696. Print. Sinclair, Andrew. Jack A Biography of Jack London. London Harper and Row, 1977. Print. Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

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