By Stoddard Martin
Chapters comprise: 1. advent; 2. Jack London: I The Underman and the reason, II lady, Race and the Land, III 'The Little woman' and the culture; three. John Steinbeck: I Radicalism, II Bourgeois Career/Proletarian Comedies, III Femme Fatale; four. the harsh men: I Hammett and Puritanism, II The Zeitgeist and Cain, III Raymond Chandler; five. The Sixties and After.
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Extra resources for California Writers: Jack London John Steinbeck The Tough Guys
But - and the everlasting, irrefragable fact remains: her feet Jack London 35 are beautiful, her eyes are beautiful, her arms and breasts are paradise, her charm is potent beyond all charm that has ever dazzled man; and as the pole willy nilly draws the needle, just so, willy nilly, does she draw man. (289) The modernist in reaction against romanticism will be quick to point out that the beloved, thus defined, can become Nemesis as well as inspiration. Van Weyden's fear in the presence of Maud Brewster suggests a subconscious wariness of this fact, as does Standing's curiously left-handed phrase 'there is no escaping her' (italics mine).
When she finally issues forth, it is to discover the futility of the struggle: 'Never once did they succeed in reaching the city of the oligarchs over on the west side. .. ' For the scapegoats, however, it is tragically otherwise. Grotesque images confront Avis. It is the lowest circle of the urban inferno. Survivors drag their maimed bodies around with 'the dumb pathos of the Jack London 27 wounded and hunted animal'. Avis comes upon a quiet street of the dead 'as a wanderer in the country would come upon a flowing stream.
At the same time, one should remember that London was sufficiently schooled in hardship to be some judge of its relative horrors. Even the most sceptical reader must find it impressive when he remarks on the condition of the wandering homeless: 'I have travelled all day with the spirit thermometer down to seventy-four degrees below zero; and though I suffered, it was a mere nothing compared to carrying the banner for a night, ill fed, ill clad, and soaking wet' (102). In the last year of his life London singled out The People as his favourite book.
California Writers: Jack London John Steinbeck The Tough Guys by Stoddard Martin