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Aging Athletes, Broken Bodies, and Disability in Jack London's Prizefighting Prose

Aging Athletes, Broken Bodies, and Disability in Jack London's Prizefighting Prose Aging Athletes, Broken Bodies, and Disability in Jack London’s Prizefi ghting Prose Cara Erdheim Kilgallen, Sacred Heart University Jack London’s name often conjures up images of dogs plowing through Alaska’s desolate wilderness, or of robust men journeying into the wild; however, pictures of broken bodies struggling for survival in a boxing ring less readily come to mind. Few think of London as a sports writer, yet his illustrations of prizefi ghting reveal an author interested not only in able- bodied athletes but in disabled and weakened ones as well. Although he is best known for his Klondike stories, nautical adventures, and socialist sentiments, the author’s fascination with fi tness shows that sport and the body are just as central to London’s evolving aesthetic and ideology. Even stories taking place beyond the ring exalt able- bodied individu- als while remaining sensitive to those who suff er sickness and setbacks. At the beginning of his semi- autobiographical novel Martin Eden (1909), for instance, London’s eponymous protagonist insists that he “’ain’t no inval- id’” (43). Eden later emerges, however, as a sympathetic fi gure plagued by mental illness. Similarly, in his famed Th e Sea- Wolf (1904), the physically fi t Wolf http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in American Naturalism uni_neb

Aging Athletes, Broken Bodies, and Disability in Jack London's Prizefighting Prose

Studies in American Naturalism , Volume 12 (2) – Mar 16, 2018

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
ISSN
1944-6519

Abstract

Aging Athletes, Broken Bodies, and Disability in Jack London’s Prizefi ghting Prose Cara Erdheim Kilgallen, Sacred Heart University Jack London’s name often conjures up images of dogs plowing through Alaska’s desolate wilderness, or of robust men journeying into the wild; however, pictures of broken bodies struggling for survival in a boxing ring less readily come to mind. Few think of London as a sports writer, yet his illustrations of prizefi ghting reveal an author interested not only in able- bodied athletes but in disabled and weakened ones as well. Although he is best known for his Klondike stories, nautical adventures, and socialist sentiments, the author’s fascination with fi tness shows that sport and the body are just as central to London’s evolving aesthetic and ideology. Even stories taking place beyond the ring exalt able- bodied individu- als while remaining sensitive to those who suff er sickness and setbacks. At the beginning of his semi- autobiographical novel Martin Eden (1909), for instance, London’s eponymous protagonist insists that he “’ain’t no inval- id’” (43). Eden later emerges, however, as a sympathetic fi gure plagued by mental illness. Similarly, in his famed Th e Sea- Wolf (1904), the physically fi t Wolf

Journal

Studies in American Naturalismuni_neb

Published: Mar 16, 2018

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