Jack London's "People of the Abyss"
Most of these respectable gentlemen (and ladies, too, though I grieve to include them) imagine they are at least partially actuated by a pure love of mankind. Probably Jack London does. He is not. Jack is not a dull boy. On the contrary, he is decidedly precocious. But he is a healthy, vigorous, young nomad, with all a healthy boy's love of adventure. When he descended among the People of the Abyss in the English capital last year the zest of adventure was one of his motives. But the biggest motive of all, if the result of his adventure may be taken as evidence, was his desire for material to make into a book. Of course Mr. London is a very young man. If he were not he would not have revealed himself so frankly. According to the documentary evidence, he may have spent six weeks in his researches, possibly two months; scarcely more. In this time he set himself not merely to gather statistics regarding the people of London's East End, but to get at the very heart of their lives—to learn how they work, sleep, eat, drink, think, love, hate, struggle, and die. To do this, he lived, he says, their own life and endured all the hardships that fall to their lot. If Mr. London imagines that he really did this, then his idea of how "the other half" lives is vastly amusing.
The most vivid and truthful picture that has yet been drawn of the saddest of modern civilization is Jack London's "People of the Abyss." The artistic power which enabled the author, in his "Call of the Wild," to give an enthralling interest to the experiences of a dog without in any way endowing his animal hero with other than animal powers, has enabled him in this volume to depict the wretchedness of the life of London's poor without ever using his imagination - save to see the mind and spirit of those who live in the environment described.