The Call of the Wild

By Jack London

Originally pubished: 1903 by Macmillan

This edition: 8th September 2011 by Puffin Classics

Yippee – There’s also a free Kindle edition!

Rating: 🐺 🐺 🐺 🐺 🐺 🐺 🐺

Synopsis: Buck the dog happily lives on a ranch in California until he is stolen and sold as a service dog to work in Canada during the Klondike Gold Rush. Buck has to quickly adapt to this harsh andΒ inplacable climate and find his place in the pack to stay alive. Buck is gradually stripped of his civilised veneer and, as he becomes more feral, the call of the wild coaxes him to give in completely to his natural instincts.

πŸ’œ What I Loved πŸ’œ

Buck and John Thornton’s relationship. John Thornton steps in while Buck is being brutally beaten and saves Buck’s life, creating an unbreakable bond between man and beast. John Thornton cares for Buck and Buck protects Thornton on a relationship built completely on respect. We all love our dogs but it’s really touching to see the devotion dogs show towards their owners from the dog’s perspective. It’ll make you want to put down your book and go give your dog a cuddle!

πŸ’€ Bad Bits πŸ’€

This book is not for the faint hearted. There are many,Β many scenes of human on dog and dog on dog violence which are described with brutal honesty. The violence is never gratuitous and reflects the realities and savagery of nature but, if like me, you love our little canine companions to death (and there’s a lot of death explicitly NOT caused by love!), you may find some of the passages difficult to stomach.

🌟 Cherished Character 🌟

I really liked the character of John Thornton. Yes, he understood that dogs at this time were part of a business venture, merely a tool to most, but he also showed respect and compassion to fellow living beings. His dogs were devoted to him, and if dogs like you, I like you!

πŸ™ Magical Moment πŸ™

When Buck completely succumbs to the call of the wild. Not only has Buck survived, he has mastered the wild. He has thrived. He is king.

🐳 🐳 🐳

That’s book 2 of my Classics Club Challenge!

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The Metamorphosis πŸ‘Ύ

The Metamorphosis: A New Translation by Susan Bernofsky (Paperback)

By Franz KafkaΒ 

Originally Published: 1915 by Kurt Wolff Verlag, Leipzig

This edition: 18th February 2014 by WW Norton & Co

Yippee – There’s also a 49 p Kindle edition!

Rating: πŸ‘Ύ πŸ‘Ύ πŸ‘Ύ πŸ‘Ύ πŸ‘Ύ πŸ‘Ύ πŸ‘ΎΒ 

Synopsis:Β Gregor Samsa wakes one morning to find himself transformed into a gigantic grotesque insect. Kafka’s macabre tale follows Gregor through his ordeal as he struggles to come to terms with his new disorientating anatomy while retaining his human mind. Kafka also delves into the reactions of Gregor’s family to his new insectile life. Β  Β 

πŸ’œ What I loved πŸ’œ

Gregor Samsa is a very sympathetic character. His immediate concern on finding himself completely altered is not ‘why me?’ but how he can get up and go to work to provide for his family. Kafka hints at Gregor’s despondency with his job and the shadow of isolation he already felt creeping over him before his transformation. Still, Gregor is determined to get to work, despite the fact he has sprouted numerous new appendages that he has yet to master.

Throughout the story, Gregor thinks of the affect his ghastly appearance has on his family and hides from his sister when she comes to feed him, even though he cries out for companionship. Gregor’s devotion to his sister in unwavering. He reveals that he has been saving to send his sister to the conservatory to fulfil her dream of becoming a violinist. Even as his sister distances herself from him, eventually becoming repulsed by the very thought of him, she remains as a shaft of light in his darkened room, a beam of hope. When hearing her play the violin he feels “as if he were being shown the way to the unknown nourishment he longed for.” Even thought they view him with suspicion and derision, Gregor recalls his family ‘with affection and love.’

While Kafka describes how Gregor moves and his thin, fragile legs, we never get a real ideal of which insect Gregor has changed into let aloneΒ why he has turned into one! I admire this tract which lets the reader speculate on why this has happened to seemingly generous and kind man. Personally, I picture him as a glossy dung-beetle, burly and wide but scuttling assuredly. Sorry Gregor!

πŸ’€ Bad Bits Β πŸ’€

There was very little I disliked about the story. I do wish it could’ve been longer and I felt Gregor’s family’s reaction to his metamorphosis was icy and detached. However, it’s clear that Kafka was exploring the boundaries of human compassion. Gregor’s family have no idea he has retained his human mind and, to them, Β the Gregor they knew is lost. All that is left is abhorrent usurper that forces them all into hard labour and seemingly threatens their safety. It definitely left me to think: at what point would I give up on a family member in a similar situation? Hmmm.

🌟 Cherished Character 🌟

It has to be Gregor himself. His exploration of isolation and detachment from society moved me and his wretched battle to cleave to his humanity was, at times, harrowing and heart-rending.

πŸ™ Magical Moment πŸ™

The iconic opening lines: “When Gregor Samsa awoke from troubled dreams one morning, he found that he had been transformed in his bed into an enormous bug.”Β 

It’s a Silver Bear award for The Metamorphosis!

Silver bear