JACK LONDON QUOTES

American author (1876-1916)

Jack London quote

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.

JACK LONDON, introduction, Jack London's Tales of Adventure

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Tags: life


The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.

JACK LONDON, attributed, Jack London and His Times

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I am I. And I won't subordinate my taste to the unanimous judgment of mankind.

JACK LONDON, Martin Eden

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A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.

JACK LONDON, "My Life in the Underworld"

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Limited minds can recognize limitations only in others.

JACK LONDON, Martin Eden

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I do not live for what the world thinks of me, but for what I think of myself.

JACK LONDON, letter to Charles Warren Stoddard, August 21, 1903

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Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.

JACK LONDON, attributed, Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior

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A million years ago, the cave man, without tools, with small brain, and with nothing but the strength of his body, managed to feed his wife and children, so that through him the race survived. You on the other hand, armed with all the modern means of production, multiplying the productive capacity of the cave man a million times -- you are incompetents and muddlers, you are unable to secure to millions even the paltry amount of bread that would sustain their physical life. You have mismanaged the world, and it shall be taken from you!

JACK LONDON, speech to a gathering of wealthy New Yorkers during his unsuccessful mayoral campaign, 1900

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Tags: survival


Life achieves its summit when it does to the uttermost that which it was equipped to do.

JACK LONDON, White Fang

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Kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, was the law; and this mandate, down out of the depths of Time.

JACK LONDON, The Call of the Wild

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Tags: law


There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.

JACK LONDON, The Call of the Wild

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For know that upon his ability to tell a good story depends the success of the beggar. First of all, and on the instant, the beggar must "size up" his victim. After that he must tell a story that will appeal to the peculiar personality and temperament of that particular victim. And right here arises the great difficulty: in the instant that he is sizing up the victim he must begin his story. Not a minute is allowed for preparation. As in a lightning flash he must divine the nature of the victim and conceive a tale that will hit home. The successful hobo must be an artist. He must create spontaneously and instantaneously--and not upon a theme selected from the plenitude of his own imagination, but upon the theme he reads in the face of the person who opens the door, be it man, woman, or child, sweet or crabbed, generous or miserly, good-natured or cantankerous, Jew or Gentile, black or white, race-prejudiced or brotherly, provincial or universal, or whatever else it may be.

JACK LONDON, "My Life in the Underworld"

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Nature has many tricks wherewith she convinces man of his finity--the ceaseless flow of the tides, the fury of the storm, the shock of the earthquake, the long roll of heaven's artillery--but the most tremendous, the most stupefying of all, is the passive phase of the White Silence. All movement ceases, the sky clears, the heavens are as brass; the slightest whisper seems sacrilege, and man becomes timid, affrighted at the sound of his own voice. Sole speck of life journeying across the ghostly wastes of a dead world, he trembles at his audacity, realizes that his is a maggot's life, nothing more. Strange thoughts arise unsummoned, and the mystery of all things strives for utterance. And the fear of death, of God, of the universe comes over him--the hope of the Resurrection and the Life, the yearning for immortality, the vain striving of the imprisoned essence--it is then, if ever, man walks alone with God.

JACK LONDON, "The White Silence"

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The aim of life was meat. Life itself was meat. Life lived on life. There were the eaters and the eaten.

JACK LONDON, White Fang

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Intelligent men are cruel. Stupid men are monstrously cruel.

JACK LONDON, The Star Rover

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But this is not a world of free freights. One pays according to an iron schedule--for every strength the balanced weakness; for every high a corresponding low; for every fictitious god-like moment an equivalent time in reptilian slime. For every feat of telescoping long days and weeks of life into mad magnificent instants, one must pay with shortened life, and, oft-times, with savage usury added.

JACK LONDON, John Barleycorn

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A man with a club is a law-maker.

JACK LONDON, The Call of the Wild

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The game of life is good, though all of life may be hurt, and though all lives lose the game in the end.

JACK LONDON, John Barleycorn

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Comes the lover, tricked by nature, blind of passion, impelled madly toward the loved one. He is as blind to her salient imperfections as he is to her petty vices. He does not interrogate her disposition and temperament, or speculate as to how they will coordinate with his for two score years and odd. He questions nothing, desires nothing, save to possess her. And this is the paradox: By nature he is driven to contract a temporary tie, which, by social observance and demand, must endure for a lifetime.

JACK LONDON, The Kempton-Wace Letters

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In a saturated population life is always cheap.

JACK LONDON, The Human Drift

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