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Martin Eden by Jack London (ebook)

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Martin Eden (1909) is a novel by American author Jack London, about a
struggling young writer. This book is a favorite among writers, who
relate to Martin Eden's speculation that when he mailed off a
manuscript, 'there was no huma editor at the other end, but a mere
cunning arrangement of cogs that changed the manuscript from one
envelope to another and stuck on the stamps,' returning it
automatically with a rejection slip.

While some readers believe there is some resemblance between them, an
important difference between Jack London and Martin Eden is that
Martin Eden rejects socialism (attacking it as 'slave morality'), and
relies on a Nietzschean individualism. In a note to Upton Sinclair,
Jack London wrote, "One of my motifs, in this book, was an attack on
individualism (in the person of the hero). I must have bungled, for
not a single reviewer has discovered it."

Plot summary

Living in Oakland at the dawn of the 20th century, Martin Eden
struggles to rise far above his destitute circumstances through an
intense and passionate pursuit of self-education in order to achieve a
coveted place among the literary elite. The main driving force behind
Martin Eden's efforts is his love for Ruth Morse. Because Eden is a
sailor from a working class background, and the Morses are a bourgeois
family, a union between them would be impossible until he reaches
their level of wealth and perceived cultural, intellectual refinement.
Just before the literary establishment discovers Eden’s talents as a
writer and lavishes him with the fame and fortune that he had
incessantly promised Ruth (for the last two years) would come, she
loses her patience and rejects him in a wistful letter: "if only you
had settled down…and attempted to make something of yourself." When
the publishers and the bourgeois - the very ones who shunned him - are
finally at his feet, Martin has already begrudged them and become
jaded by unrequited toil and love. Instead of enjoying his success,
Eden retreats into a quiet indifference, only interrupted to mentally
rail against the genteelness of bourgeois society or to donate his new
wealth to working class friends and family.

The novel ends with Martin Eden committing suicide by drowning, a
detail which undoubtedly contributed to what researcher Clarice Stasz
calls the 'biographical myth' that Jack London's own death was a
suicide.
Joan London noted that "ignoring its tragic ending," the book is often
regarded as "a 'success' story...which inspired not only a whole
generation of young writers but other different fields who, without
aid or encouragement, attained their objectives through great
struggle."