Penn State

Hester M. Blum - associate professor of English, Penn State University Park

Book Title: The Sea Wolf

Author: Jack London

Book Description:

Although I didn't know it at the time, The Sea Wolf was the source of my professional interest in maritime literature and, more broadly, in the relationship between manual and intellectual labor. I first read and loved this book as a teenager, and wore out my copy rereading it. I found Jack London's novel—about a brutal, autodidact sea captain and the literary passenger with whom he battles—brilliant then. I still see brilliance in it, however mixed with silliness, adrenaline, and bluster.

I returned to The Sea Wolf in graduate school, at the time I was switching my focus to American literature after working in another field. I realized that I could study books I unabashedly loved while still thinking critically about them. I thus choose The Sea Wolf as representative of all that delights me about literary study: its rigor, imagination, intellectual liveliness, adventure, and curiosity.

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