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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Jack London suffered to succeed, and he succeeded by becoming a poet of suffering. His hardscrabble life of various labors has attracted many biographers, but London was his own first mythologist. The hells that London imagined he lived in gave him a career of material, starting with his childhood work at a “hell hole” of a cannery. This essay argues that Jack London’s work is informed by an aesthetics of suffering that is crucial to a fraught and frequently contradictory definition of manhood. From the Northland to the boxing ring, London spotlights the spectacle of male suffering and endurance, a focus that reflects the rising emphasis on masculinity during his lifetime, and his own deep personal and artistic investment in the meaning of white manhood.

Keywords: masculinity, manhood, race, gender, boxing, suffering, endurance

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