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date: 26 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Burning Daylight reflects the personal and political contradictions in Jack London’s work in terms of his own version of the “American Adam” discourse. Taking well-known elements from London’s fiction such as the Klondike narrative, the urban nightmare of capitalist corruption, and the new Edenic promise of a now defunct Jeffersonian ideal available to only the privileged few, the novel exhibits both the failure of the American dream of material success as well as the fantastic premises behind the agrarian dream. The hero passes from innocence into urban decline but experiences a regeneration via a romantic union with the “ideal woman” and a return to a much more positive version of the wilderness within which he earlier thrived. Yet Daylight’s nightmare vision of a return of the repressed capitalist economy within his “Promised Land” reveals that total escape from American industrialism and economic pollution of the land is problematic at best.

Keywords: Jack London, Klondike, San Francisco, Sonoma, ecology

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