Martin Eden (Paperback)

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Martin Eden Cover Image
By Jack London, Andrew Sinclair (Introduction by)
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Staff Reviews

MARTIN EDEN is one of Jack London’s lesser-known novels, but it’s also one of his finest. The title character is based on London himself, who grew up on the rough-and-tumble waterfronts of Oakland and San Francisco toward the end of the 19th century. At the time, San Francisco’s ports were notoriously seedy, populated more by pirates than by the seals and tourists of today. The colorful events of London’s life--joining a seal cruiser to Japan, participating in the Gold Rush to the Klondike, being an oyster pirate--mirror Martin Eden’s, especially his determination to become a writer. Despite his impoverished upbringing, Martin wants a life of the mind, to improve himself through literature. MARTIN EDEN is a surprising novel for those who associate London purely with his adventure stories such as THE CALL OF THE WILD. It’s the story of a man who strives to better himself, a classic underdog story that grapples with issues of individualism, literary fame and the culture of early 20th-century America.

— From Martin Eden (Jack London)


Jack London's semiautobiographical critique of individualism that touches on contemporary issues like socialism and mental illness, soon to be a major motion picture

The semiautobiographical Martin Eden is the most vital and original character Jack London ever created. Set in San Francisco, this is the story of Martin Eden, an impoverished seaman who pursues, obsessively and aggressively, dreams of education and literary fame. London, dissatisfied with the rewards of his own success, intended Martin Eden as an attack on individualism and a criticism of ambition; however, much of its status as a classic has been conferred by admirers of its ambitious protagonist. Andrew Sinclair's wide-ranging introduction discusses the conflict between London's support of socialism and his powerful self-will. Sinclair also explores the parallels and divergences between the life of Martin Eden and that of his creator, focusing on London's mental depressions and how they affected his depiction of Eden.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

About the Author

Jack London (1876–1916) was born John Chaney in Pennsylvania, USA. In 1896 he was caught up in the gold rush to the Klondike river in north-west Canada, which became the inspiration for The Call of the Wild (1903) and White Fang (1906). Jack London became one of the most widely read writers in the world.

Praise For…

Martin Eden is assuredly one of Jack London’s greatest works.”—Upton Sinclair
Product Details
ISBN: 9780140187724
ISBN-10: 0140187723
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: February 1st, 1994
Pages: 480
Language: English
Series: Penguin American Library