The impact of the Nietzschean ideas on the J. London’soutlook

It is not the secret, that the world was influenced by many contemporary philosophical ideas and theories of Jack London. With respect to US the writer can speak of eclecticism, philosophical and aesthetic views.

The theory of evolution and natural selection of Charles Darwin was reflected in the novel «Daughter of the Snows» [1, 127] the opposition between idealism and materialism, as well as the understanding of the philosophy of Nietzsche – in the «Sea Wolf». Nietzsche’s philosophical ideas are used in «Martin Eden» (Martin Eden, 1909) and also in the novel «Little Lady of the Big House».

Problems of evolution of the animal world and the struggle for existence were solved in the novel «The White Fang» (White Fang, 1906) and a number of novels, «Call of the Wild» (The Call of the Wild, 1903), «Before Adam» (Before Adam, 1907). Problematic relation to the capitalist system, and issues of social revolution were placed in the same «Martin Eden» and «Iron Heel» (The Iron Heel, 1908). In the works of London we can easily feature ideas of his contemporaries, scientists and writers [2, 39].

Influence of Herbert Spencer on the work of Jack London is undeniable.

In letters to the American writer more than once he admired philosophy of positivism and applied these ideas at his work.

M. Cowley wrote about the influence of the philosophy of positivism in Jack London’s work as follows: «Jack London read it (Spencer) sitting in the entrance of the little room in Oakland, California, and at the same time trying to learn how to write itself»[Cowley in 1973: 62]. London was fascinated by the idea of Spencer considering a person in close contact with nature and the environment. Due to recognition of the close relationship and interaction between man and nature writer logically concluded about the inevitability struggle between living beings.

The struggle for existence through all his works in animal world can be seen in «Call of the Wild», «White Fang», «Before Adam», «Sea Wolf», «Martin Eden» and a number of subsequent novels.

The struggle for Existence waslater followed by the class struggle and the idea is reflected in the «Iron Heel» (The Iron Heel, 1908), «Moon Valley» (The Valley of the Moon, 1913), and other books. The interest in the philosophy of positivism Jack London kept up to the end of life.

Another passion of the American writer was Marxism, which instilled him the idea of the inevitability of class struggle and the sharp leaps in social development. Such ideas have contributed in elaborating the materialist world view of the writer. Jack London first became acquainted with the ideas of socialism, thanks to the work of Karl Max.

The impact of the world thinkers on London can be seen in his essays «War of the Classes» which was also one of his own experiences, which he had acquired in the years of economic and political discontent in the 1890s.

Marx and his colleague Friedrich Engels insisted on the overthrow of the capitalist system of the world workers. Since London had spent long time as a worker in a factory and because of terrifying working conditions in most factories made Marx’s theory relevant for the American writer. All this has prompted London to defend socialist ideas. These ideas have been implemented in the «Iron Heel» (The Iron Heel, 1908). Recognizing the degrading and destructive force of Revolution, London still played it for the revolutionary transformation of society.

London believed that the «philosophy of life» it is: every writer the key to his creative success. London calling himself «Hopeless materialist» and «materialistic monist», he did not take Bergson’s philosophy and metaphysical ideas. The writer agreed with E. Haeckel, gave a solid foundation for materialism (However Haeckel did not share the hatred of socialism and bourgeois apologetics system) [3, 248].

Lacking the proper form for the literary career, but it is a will power, the talent and the desire to become a writer, Jack London gave a huge amount of time and self-forces. In my point of view writer approached for his target with the outmost seriousness and responsibility.

The American writer Spiller writes: «London became acquainted with the theory of evolution and socialism due to indiscriminate and eagerly reading, as well as communicating with people more educated than himself; however, London knew these two lines of thought not only as a scholar or critic, as well as the person really interested in them «[4, 4853].

To discover the «Basic Principles» Spencer made one of the key actions in his life. Biographer (of Jack London) Stone writes: «It is understood that so far only He glided across the surface, observing individual phenomena, accumulating fragmentary information, resorting to superficial generalizations

«[5, 312]. London borrowed position, «that man evolved from lower life forms, differing from them more degrees of kinship, rather than its very nature


Along with Spencer, London discovered ideas of other great philosophers who had a great impact on the world community and the culture of the time.

«Darwin, Spencer, Marx and Nietzschethose are spiritual guides of Jack London». Under the influence of these four names was formed the philosophy of the writer. The theory of London transmitted to humans through their creativity. Clash of the different sides of his outlook can be traced throughout the career of London. But, as the writer himself: «I have been more stimulated by Nietzsche than by any other writer in the world». However, many researchers are faced with the difficulty of determining the impact of the measures of Nietzsche on the work of Jack London. This is due to the fact that until now it is unknown the exact time of the writer’s acquaintance with the German philosopher works. There is speculation that the US writer in the early stages of his work dealt not so much with the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, as with various anthologies, and transcriptions interpretations of the teachings of the German philosopher.

Lunin speaking about the influence of the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche on creativity of Jack London argued that the writer all his life was in Looking, denying the opportunity to decide the fate of the individual with all mankind, and speaking against the anarchist ideology and methods of individual terrorism. In general he agrees and the difference between London and Nietzsche is also emphasized by Bykov.

The Nietzsche is immoral character; he preaches the thesis that «the incident push of Jack London, the peace of the nobility, friendly Peer – basic properties of positive characters».

The fate of the American writer and German philosopher are largely similar: «Nietzsche, the son of a pastor, suffered from unbridled zeal Hypocrites is not less than of London in unbridled enthusiasm mother sinister ritual Ouija».

London accused the Christian religion in falsehood, fiction, and hypocrisy. He did not paid attention to the writer’s and Nietzsche’s theory of the superman. One of Jack London’s favorite books was Nietzsche’s book. It glorified the German philosopher superman, a rebel by nature, which is able to challenge townsfolk, plebeians, which is driven by the herd instinct of the crowd mind.

He rejected the Nietzschean superman, but drew it all the more strongly to this idea of artistic temperament». London: «I have always attracted this type of personality». Maxim Gorky wrote: «Jack London is a writer who is well seen, filled deeply with creative will power and was able to portray the strong-willed people».

Superman is not surpassed in strength and intelligence. The idea of a strong personality is reflected in many works of the writer.

However, it is believed that a bright individualism of many heroes, London did not come under the influence of Nietzsche, as well as an interpretation of the national American ideas. Mulyarchik writes:

«It is in the primordial American experience, rather than borrowing European theories to be found the origins of individualistic philosophy of London, from which he led struggle in a number of works»[6, 144]. However, this does not detract from the role of Nietzsche’s philosophy in shaping the world of the writer.

Most likely, the truth lies in between.In an embodiment of the superman, London can be seen as the traits of a romantic person, so and quality of Nietzsche’s strong personality. London combines his writings with romantic individualism, positivist and scientific approach to the study of personality. In addition London was recognized as natural need for competition despite of the adoption of certain provisions.

American writer refutes many judgments of philosophies data. In the works London can be seen controversy as to Spencer’s ideas, and with Nietzsche’s philosophical concepts.

In the American culture of the XIX-XX centuries it is continued development of national idea, based on the theory and transcendentalism pursuit of the «American Dream.»

Philosophy of Nietzsche has penetrated into the culture and ideology of the United States over European philosophical conditions and trends (such as the theory of G. Spencer, Darwin, E. Kant, B. Hegel, Schopenhauer). Principles of Nietzsche’s ideas in US literature evolved in the 1890-1910years, when public consciousness of Americans and their ideology in general underwent radical changes.

The main provisions of Nietzsche’s philosophy was: Apollonian and the beginning of the Dionysian art, morality criticism, the will power, the idea of eternal return, atheism and the criticism of Christianity, the theory of the superman. Overall, some of the ideas of German philosopher harmoniously joined the overall concept of the American consciousness of the XIX-XX centuries.

Ideas of Nietzsche in US has a considerable history and is more or less reflected in the works of such writers as F. Norris, D. London, T. Dreiser, J. O’Neill. Nietzsche’s philosophy influenced Jack London the most. The concept of the superman appeared in the early stages of the writer followed throughout his career



  1. 1 Badanov I.M. Jack London and his hero. – M., 1963. – 127 p.
  2. 2 BaturinS.S.Lots of great people / Dreiser. – M., 1975. – 39 p.
  3. 3 Baturin S.S. Biography: Jack London. – M., 1983. – 248 p.
  4. 4 States late XIX – early XX centuries. / Diss. ...Cand. philologist. Sciences. – Moscow, 2010. – 48-53 p.
  5. 5 H. Garland Crash idols / US writers of literature. – M., 1990. – 312 p.
  6. 6 Gilenson B.A. The history of foreign literature at the end of XIX – early XX century: a teaching aid. – M ., 2008. – 480 p.
Magazine: KazNU BULLETIN
Year: 2017
City: Almaty
Category: Philology