Light a bonfire by Jack London

Password and Notes from Lighting a Bonfire by Jack London

I have taken advantage of Filomena's passage through the peninsula and the great drops in temperatures to reread Light a bonfire by Jack London.

As with the Ithaca poem it is a small story wrapped in an edition

The edition

This time the edition that I bought from Cordelia Kingdom that comes with illustrations by Raúl Arias and translation by Susana Carral. This edition also includes the two stories of Lighting a Bonfire that Jack London wrote. The 1907 which is the one that everyone knows and on which the illustrations in the book are based and the 1902 e which is included as an annex and which was the first version he wrote for a literary magazine. Youth's Companion.

You can buy it now at € 7

The translations are based on the work established by Stanford University in its Canonical Edition of Jack London's Complete Stories.

In 1907 he remade it for Century Magazine and in 1910 it was compiled in the Lost Face volume.

I had already seen these illustrations by Raúl Arias in an edition of the Rey Lear publishing house in hard cover and in a larger size. It is a volume that I picked up in the public library, the first time I read it. After this I found the Kingdom of Cordelia version that I ended up buying.

In a sense they remind me of Agustín Comotto's illustrations for 20.000 leagues of underwater travel, Verne's most liked book so far.

The work

It is a story to read in one sitting, on cold winter days. It is a magnificent, intense story that makes you put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist and notice his suffering, his anguish. It reflects the harshness of these inhospitable places. Nature in the wild and how small and defenseless man is.

The 1907 version seems superior to me in every way. That there are no dialogues and you only see the thoughts of the protagonist make you immerse yourself in the story. The appearance of the dog accompanying you during the trip seems to me a fantastic resource and one that is missing when you read the first version.

It's a great way to start reading London. This work bears great similarity to The call of the wild y White tusk. Another work of the author that I read many years ago and I want to have is Wanderer of the stars.

At the age of 21, London traveled to Alaska to look for gold, felt and lived the cold on the banks of the Klondike. He lived the intense cold in the first person, he walked through those forests and all those experiences are printed in this story.


Some curious things collected from the book.

  • From 45ºC below zero it is necessary to travel with someone
  • They use tinder made from birch bark. I have to research this topic.

More interesting facts

The lowest air temperature recorded on Earth by a weather station has been -89,2ºC. It was recorded in Russia in East Antarctica, at the Vostok base (Source National Geographic). But in a 2018 study in Geophysical REsearch Letters (Ultralow Surface Temperatures in East Antarctica From Satellite Thermal Infrared Mapping: The Coldest Places on Earth) Scientists analyzing satellite data saw temperatures of -90ºC

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