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date: 24 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This essay argues that Jack London’s fantastic tales hinge on a belief in the theory of recapitulation, and that a common concern with the past-haunted self characterizes these stories. Taking Before Adam (1906), “A Relic of the Pliocene” (1904), “When the World Was Young” (1913) and The Star Rover (1915), and the ghost stories, “Who Believes in Ghosts!” and “Planchette” (1906) and “The Eternity of Forms” (1910) as its examples, the essay shows how London returns again and again to people, objects, creatures who exist as echoes of the past. His is a “recapitulatory” imagination, and here selves are doubled with past selves. London pictures contemporary identity in this way to expose the crack in modernity, that it is in fact not modern at all, or only in so far as it is also primitive, a reprise.

Keywords: ghost story, fantasy, recapitulation/recapitulatory, stone age, the haunted self, spiritualism, modernity

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