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The People of the Abyss by Jack London, Brigitte Koenig


The People of the Abyss by Jack London, Brigitte Koenig

The People of the Abyss is a classic work about poverty and recounts the time the author spent in London. Born in San Francisco, he became a political activist and socialist at an early age. Written after posing as an American sailor stranded in the East End of London during 1902 - sleeping in doss houses, living with the destitute and starving - this is perhaps Jack London's most important work. As well as being a literary masterpiece, The People of the Abyss stands as a major sociological study. While other American writers were blindly celebrating the glories of the British Empire at its peak, Jack London was asking why such misery was to be found in the heart of a capital city of immense wealth. This is a work of reportage - London lets his observations speak for themselves. A precursor to the writings of George Orwell, this book remains a standard-bearer critique of capitalism, as powerful today as it was then.


'During my youth I walked the streets of East London, following in the footsteps of Jack London. He brought back, so movingly to this young reader, the poverty and suffering as well as the laughter and tears manifest in the outcasts and dispossessed of our locale at that time. Together with the revelations of Charles Booth, G.R. Sims et al, that book helped shatter the smug composure of Edwardian England, as well as providing a transatlantic bestseller'
Professor William J. Fishman, Queen Mary and Westfield College

'Written with the smoldering anger of turn-of-the-century revolutionary socialism. An incredibly important and readable book, which reminds us of how economic exploitation must always be fought, that we must always be educated in the lives of the unfortunate'
Jack London Journal

About the Author

Jack London (1876-1916) was born in San Francisco and became a political activist and socialist at an early age. His first real literary success came in 1903 with The Call of the Wild, which became an immediate bestseller.

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Book Info

Publication date

7th September 2001


Jack London, Brigitte Koenig

More books by Jack London, Brigitte Koenig
Author 'Like for Like'


Pluto Press


192 pages


Biography: general
Poverty & unemployment
Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers
Literary studies: from c 1900 -
Urban communities
Regional studies



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