This essay examines the ways in which depictions of animal and human corporeality in Jack London's fiction support an ethics concerned with cultivating a greater attunement to one's surroundings, including other bodies. In contrast to previous readings that understand London's deployment of animality to imply humans' ethical regression, I argue that fiction by London imagines the ethical possibilities of assuming an animal-inspired approach to one's surrounding environment. Drawing on recent insights of materialist philosophy, I show that London takes up the canine figure in White Fang to explore the perspective of a body that is intimately connected to its surrounding environment. London's preoccupation with canine embodiment, I propose, informs his human-centered novel Martin Eden, which suggests the ethical significance of physical sensibilities that humans share with animals. Martin Eden further expresses London's belief in the capacity of literature to encourage readers to more fully inhabit their own corporeality.
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Christine Mahady; Teaching Old Readers New Tricks: Jack London's Interspecies Ethics. Novel 1 May 2012; 45 (1): 71–93. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-1541360
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