Jack London's Strong Truths

By James I. McClintock | Go to book overview

Chapter VI
REBIRTH: 1916

Later in that March, 1916, letter to Edgar J. Sisson, despite London's protestations that he did not want to begin writing short stories after his five-year rest from them, he mentions that he had, indeed, been giving thought to writing more:

I am cudgeling my head now over a possible bunch of short stories, but I must tell you in advance that this one prospect will not consist of related short stories. Each story is a story by itself--if I can see my way to framing up a bunch of these stories. On the matter of short-story writing you and I pull at cross-purposes. This can be better stated as follows: You demand for your purposes that novels should be broken up in the writing into short story units. You demand that short stories be so related that the sum of a collection of short stories constitutes a novel. That is to say, artistically you are playing hell both with the short stories and the novels.280

It is clear from the letter that he refused to consider collections of stories like the Smoke Bellew and David Grief series that required an author to violate the demands of the genre, forcing him to provide an inorganic relationship between the stories. By now, anyone familiar with London's writing career should suspect that his resurgent interest in the genre, especially when combined with a desire to make the stories artistic, is a product of an interest in ideas and the hope that they will afford some basis for affirming life. Even though science had unsettled idealistic concepts of man, his temperament insisted that affirmations of the human condition, too, have a scientifically

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