The Sea Wolf

Piracy / to stage

At the beginning, The Sea Wolf is a novel by Jack London. I mentioned this when I introduced you to Riff Reb’s, who illustrated this story in an incredible way.

Of course, like every time London had put himself in the head to write a story, in the end, it is terrible. If you have the misfortune to get caught up in it, you won’t be able to get out of it with a smile on your face: no, no, you will have used up all the tissues in the house and it won’t have been enough : you will have had a piece of heart that will be affected and sad for a long time.

And yet, for this novel, London, who is an author I love, completely missed his target.
He missed it to the point of absolutely reversing it.
As a result, it’s a terrible and great story – but it doesn’t fulfill the function assigned by the author, on the contrary.

London wanted to oppose Nietzsche. He wanted to prove, through literature, by telling a story and by making us live the character, that the famous Overman of Nietzsche was nothing else than a kind of monster taken out of all humanity.
Here is Jack London inventing the character of Loup Larsen.

Loup Larsen, nicknamed the Sea Wolf.

Facing him, the man, the true, classical, human, weak and strong, moral.
Between them, a woman.
It’s like the Natasha of Russian novels. There must always be a woman in the middle.

Two roosters lived in peace. A hen came along…

Here is the story in two words: the hero, Humphrey, a young American man, literate, intellectual, gentle, idealistic and moral, finds himself unluckily at sea, following a storm.
He is saved by a schooner.
By the time he recovers from his emotions, the American coast is already far away.
Humphrey, listening only to his candor and his great, great ignorance of the real things of this world, goes to the captain and asks to be brought back to America. What could be more normal? He has things to do, this young man.
The captain, Loup Larsen, refuses without explanation.
Rather than bemoan his fate and be a useless mouth, Humphrey will have to settle for the sad fate of a ship’s boy in a boat launched in its seal fishing season. First ignominy of the captain, according to our hero.
First brick to his aura, according to the reader – who is usually more grounded in real life and surprised by the castaway’s filthy ingratitude.

The season begins – a season obviously of infinite harshness, where our young American from a good family will discover blisters on his feet and hands, wounds, hunger that works slyly, and above all, the indifference of others, embarked in the same galley.
What will amaze the young man is that the unbelievable brute that is Loup – a giant as brutal as he is strong – this brute is knowledgeable in literature and philosophy – and here they are, talking in the evening.
Larsen’s world knows no trust, no pity, no compassion – not even brotherhood, his worst enemy is his own brother. Earning your keep is the only rule –
Each tries to convince the other that he is wrong, and Humphrey will argue for love, beauty, trust in humanity when Larsen tells of ignominy, cruelty, bestiality.

At this point in the story, the reader sways – but sways for Larsen, because Larsen’s life has been much harder than that of the young man from a good family.
It’s so easy, isn’t it ?, to lecture when you have a full belly for centuries and centuries.

And then, of course, it’s a place of slightly rough guys – a mutiny is brewing – fails – you don’t beat the Wolf with a pathetic little ruse.
The two mutineers flee in the lifeboat and try to reach the coast of Japan. Larsen goes after them – it is pure revenge, there is nothing rational about it.
He sees them already in the distance, caught in the huge waves of a coming storm.

Here comes the woman: also shipwrecked, also taken in by Larsen. She is a lady – he asks her nothing more than to share his meal.
Maud – she is Maud – Maud is a great lady, an author, a very famous lady, and Humphrey does not feel too happy to be at her side.

Larsen is troubled by the beautiful woman.
So is the American.

Here, London cheated with reality I think.
Because between the two men, she chooses the fragile one.

From there, the story becomes really atrocious – Larsen goes crazy – the sea doesn’t calm down – our Romeo&Juliet new way don’t know what to do – all three are stranded on an island – Larsen is injured – what will the good guys do?

I suppose you can easily guess it.
I too feel remorse sometimes when I kill a wasp.
But I kill it anyway.

How could Jack London think for a second that by presenting us with such a pathetically self-righteous, weak, bad-faith character, we would want to be like him?
Whereas on the other hand, old Loup Larsen, he is definitely worth a detour.
To resemble him – it is much too difficult – and especially that implies to have had a life of wild dog. But not to remain admiring in front of this guy who is of an incredible intellectual honesty, it is a bit of bad faith.

I’ll concede that I’m taking sides and not being objective.

In the meantime, this story – which is a pure pleasure in book form – a diamond when Reb’s illustrates it – only asks to become, what do I know, a sapphire with night blue colors? – a hallucinating show on a stage.
Because the characters are hallucinating
Because the decor is terrorizing
Because the action is omnipresent
And because at the end, everyone can spend hours discussing whether Larsen is really a bad guy or not.

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Featured Image : The Sea Wolf by Riff Reb’s

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