The Sea Wolf – a forgotten classic?

The Sea Wolf by Jack London is the third title we are publishing in our new Adlard Coles Maritime Classics series, celebrating the best of maritime writing through the centuries, whether fiction or non-fiction.

When we first came up with the idea for the series it was a hard job selecting which titles to include in the first batch. Various people insisted we do something to ensure The Sea Wolf didn’t become a forgotten classic. Here in the office we were more familiar with Jack London’s most famous books, White Fang and Call of the Wild, but when we were reading The Sea Wolf we all agreed it was really rather good.

Informed by London’s own experience serving on a Pacific sealing schooner heading for the coast of Japan, The Sea Wolf is the story of Humphrey Van Weyden, a quiet bookish man who falls overboard after his ferry collides with another vessel. He is picked up by the crew of a seal-hunting schooner called The Ghost, but his relief at being rescued is short-lived once he meets her captain, the brutal Wolf Larsen.

Wolf Larsen would terrify even Captain Ahab. Nihilistic, cruel and vengeful, Wolf Larsen views the men under his command as little more than yeast. But he is not a mindless monster – indeed, he takes to Humphrey Van Weyden because he senses an intellectual equal. Caught between Larsen and his browbeaten crew, Van Weyden’s life-changing experience is punctuated by an attempted mutiny, a cataclysmic storm and the appearance of Wolf’s equally terrible brother, Death Larsen.

At once a cleverly written thrilling adventure and an insightful look at the fragility of humanity in the face of the unforgiving ocean, our brand new edition of The Sea Wolf features an exclusive Foreword by adventurer and television presenter Bear Grylls. In it he draws on his own experience of running into trouble hundreds of miles from land to give a unique perspective on the fundamental amorality of the natural world.

The Sea Wolf (Jack London)

Other titles in the series currently include South (Ernest Shackleton), Mutiny On Board HMS Bounty (William Bligh) and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne). Next year we will add Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe) and Lord Jim (Joseph Conrad).

What maritime favourites would you like us to publish next?

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