Friday, March 25, 2005

Jack London, Surfer

You may find that label more than a little bizarre, if you’re familiar with the life and the century-old works of the popular author. While he’s best known in the United States for The Call of the Wild and White Fang, London acquired a particular following in Marxist countries for his sociological, anti-industrial critiques.

Surprising, thus, was London’s enthusiastic 1907 journalistic account of surfing -- “a royal sport” -- at Waikiki Beach. He not only observed surfers while on vacation in Hawaii; he joined them. London described his brief ride as “ecstatic bliss.” The Next Wave, a history of the sport, judged that “London’s colorful piece about surfriding is often credited with reviving Hawaiian surfing enthusiasm and stimulating overseas interest in surfing.”

London died young at 40 in 1916, a year before the Russian revolutions.


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