American Dreamers: Charmian and Jack London

Clarice Stasz, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (362p) ISBN 978-0-312-02160-3
In this revisionist, not entirely credible joint biography of the Londons, Stasz, who teaches at Sonoma University in California, draws on the novelist's writings as clues to his personality, challenging the popular concept of him as a manic, brutal alcoholic, and stressing his sensibility and humane qualities. Charmian, in a portrait based in large part on her diaries, emerges not only as the devoted lover, partner and literary model of a famous man, but as a distinct individual who shared Jack's three years of South Sea Island adventures, the inspiration of the Cruise of the Snark , and published two books of her own. She is shown also as sympathetic to his socialist politics and ranching interests. The author attributes the preoccupation with the spiritual in the novelist's later works to disillusion due to rancor and estrangement from his first wife and daughter, to material losses and to the physical ailments fostered by the alcoholism that led to his death in 1916 at age 39. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
Paperback - 396 pages - 978-0-595-00002-9
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