Author Under Sail


Author Under Sail

The Imagination of Jack London, 1893-1902

Jay Williams

616 pages


November 2014


$90.00 Add to Cart

May 2017


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2014


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2014


$34.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In Author Under Sail, Jay Williams offers the first complete literary biography of Jack London as a professional writer engaged in the labor of writing. It examines the authorial imagination in London’s work, the use of imagination in both his fiction and nonfiction, and the ways he defined imagination in the creative process in his business dealings with his publishers, editors, and agents. In this first installment of a three-volume biography, Williams traverses the years 1893 to 1902, from London’s “Story of a Typhoon” to The People of the Abyss.

The Jack London who emerges in the pages of Author Under Sail is a writer whose partnership with publishers, most notably his productive alliance with George Brett of Macmillan, was one of the most formative in American literary history. London pioneered many author models during the heyday of realism and naturalism, blurring the boundaries of these popular genres by focusing on absorption and theatricality and the representation of the seen and unseen. London created an impassioned, sincere, and extremely personal realism unlike that of other American writers of the time.

Author Under Sail is a literary tour de force that reveals the full range of London as writer, creative citizen, and entrepreneur at the same time it sheds light on the maverick side of machine-age literature.

Author Bio

Jay Williams is the senior managing editor of Critical Inquiry, as well as the editor of Signature Derrida and editor/publisher of seven numbers of the Jack London Journal.


"Thoroughly documented and cogently argued, Author Under Sail heralds a departure from all scholars who thought they knew about Jack London and promises a wealth of new directions in London scholarship."—S. M. Nuernberg, Choice

"[Author Under Sail] is indispensable for Jack London scholars."—Anita Duneer, Studies in American Naturalism

"In his ground breaking and comprehensive biography of Jack London, Author Under Sail: The Imagination of Jack London, Jay Williams approaches London's writing life in a way that no other biographer or scholar has previously endeavored."—Iris Dunkle, Journal of Popular Culture

“A stunning new story of the authorial development that undergirds Jack London’s prolific fiction and nonfiction. This book offers a far richer U.S. socio-literary vein than any mined to date by critics and researchers of London’s life and career. Jay Williams, what’s more, presents a new model of close reading, not a formalist plea for artistic unity but a showcase of literary-critical focal power. For admirers of Jack London, for students of American literature, and for historians of the book, Author Under Sail is a must.”—Cecelia Tichi, author of Exposés and Excess: Muckraking in America, 1900/2000

Author Under Sail offers a paradigm-shifting approach to Jack London studies. . . . Williams has the gift of explaining complex ideas in straightforward, clear language and is also a storyteller adept at tracing the human connections behind the texts and shaping them into an engrossing tale. Author Under Sail will become an indispensable source for all serious London scholars.”—Chris Gair, author of Complicity and Resistance in Jack London’s Novels: From Naturalism to Nature

Table of Contents

1. Spirit Truth    
2. From Absorption to Theatricality and Back Again    
3. “I Will Build a New Present”    
4. Sons as Authors    
5. Fathers as Publishers    
6. The Daughter as Author    
7. Lovers as Authors    
8. At Sea with the Family    
9. Yellow News, Yellow Stories    
10. The Return Home    

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