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    Jack London writes to the editor of his unpublished Sea Wolf: "I'll not be offended at any other changes you may make. On the contrary, I shall be grateful."

    Jack London Autograph Letter Signed. Five pages, 9.25" x 6", October 14, 1903, Oakland, California, written on "Jack London" letterhead (the date has been stamped). London writes this letter to "Mr. Johnson", the editor of his upcoming novel, The Sea Wolf, which was serialized in The Century Magazine from January through November 1904. Defending his descriptions of Wolf Larsen's eyes, London writes in full: "I really can't see the inconsistency in any two descriptions of the captain's eyes on p.20 - & p.27. P.20- 'They were eyes that masque the soul with a thousand guises' - but at rare moments allowed it to rush up, etc. On p.27, it was not one of those rare moments. On the contrary, the soul was masqued by a bleakness and coldness and grayness of the eyes. Am I right? or do I fail to catch your point? Good for the marine expert on your staff! I doubt not he'll find lots to change in my seamanship. You see, it's ten years since I was a sailor; and also, while I have sailed for'ard on a three-mast schooner, I have never sailed on a two-mast schooner. And of course, seamanship is the most ticklish of all things to write about. The best sailors are caught tripping when they get into print. Also, it must be taken into consideration that 'each ship has its own [?]' as the [?] said when he went for'ard to let go the spanlser- sheet [sic]. I have mailed you to-day pp 85 to 151 inclusive. If you should still think I am inconsistent with captain's eyes, I am perfectly willing to you to change the description as you see fit. And, believe me, I'll not be offended at any other changes you may make. On the contrary, I shall be grateful." London won the first argument; his description of Larsen's eyes that "masked the soul with a thousand guises" was published (The Sea Wolf, Dover Publications, 1999, 15). But he lost the second argument; "A bleakness came into his eyes, and the lines of his mouth grew severe and harsh" was published instead of his original, "the soul was masqued by a bleakness and coldness and grayness of the eyes" (The Sea Wolf, 33). These descriptions were important for a full understanding of the character of Captain Wolf Larsen, London's representation of brute strength. Larsen was a man with little regard for life (in The Sea Wolf, Larsen says of life, "It has no value. Of cheap things it is the cheapest," 44). The letter is housed in a beautiful and protective fine leather presentation portfolio. The pages of the letter are toned with small filing holes in top left corners. Overall fine condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2010
    11th-12th Thursday-Friday
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