Presenter Information

Esther StuartFollow

Presentation Title

Dances with Superwolves? Love, Nietzsche, and Jack London as the Darwinian Romantic

Location

Room 2901

Session Format

Paper Presentation

Research Area Topic:

Humanities & Social Sciences - Literature & Philosophy

Abstract

Critics often view The Sea Wolf and White Fang as the problem novels of Jack London’s literary works. While both novels begin with the pessimistic naturalist tones characteristic of London, they gradually descend into the sentimental and romantic. The resolutions of The Sea Wolf and White Fang embrace a love conquers all trope that appears antithetical to the bleak naturalist outlook commonly embedded in his work. However, close inspection of these novels in a biographical context reveals them to be an intricate application of London’s optimistic prediction for the Darwinian development of man. Inspection of two issues is necessary to unraveling the complex argument being offered in these novels: Friedrich Nietzshe’s concept of the superman and theories of love’s function in human evolution. Both concepts, upon close inspection, prove pivotal to the formation and ultimate argument presented in The Sea Wolf and White Fang. While Nietzsche’s individualist superman heavily influences the formation of the title characters, London purposefully either defeats or transforms these fictional supermen through the power of love. His work demonstrates the belief of love as the superior survival mechanism and altruism as the inevitable social Darwinian trend. Both The Sea Wolf and White Fang demonstrate London’s rejection of Nietzsche’s superman as humanity’s savior in favor of love as the superior Darwinian impulse.

Presentation Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

Start Date

4-16-2016 1:30 PM

End Date

4-16-2016 2:30 PM

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Apr 16th, 1:30 PM Apr 16th, 2:30 PM

Dances with Superwolves? Love, Nietzsche, and Jack London as the Darwinian Romantic

Room 2901

Critics often view The Sea Wolf and White Fang as the problem novels of Jack London’s literary works. While both novels begin with the pessimistic naturalist tones characteristic of London, they gradually descend into the sentimental and romantic. The resolutions of The Sea Wolf and White Fang embrace a love conquers all trope that appears antithetical to the bleak naturalist outlook commonly embedded in his work. However, close inspection of these novels in a biographical context reveals them to be an intricate application of London’s optimistic prediction for the Darwinian development of man. Inspection of two issues is necessary to unraveling the complex argument being offered in these novels: Friedrich Nietzshe’s concept of the superman and theories of love’s function in human evolution. Both concepts, upon close inspection, prove pivotal to the formation and ultimate argument presented in The Sea Wolf and White Fang. While Nietzsche’s individualist superman heavily influences the formation of the title characters, London purposefully either defeats or transforms these fictional supermen through the power of love. His work demonstrates the belief of love as the superior survival mechanism and altruism as the inevitable social Darwinian trend. Both The Sea Wolf and White Fang demonstrate London’s rejection of Nietzsche’s superman as humanity’s savior in favor of love as the superior Darwinian impulse.