To Build a Fire by Jack London (1908)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror November 18, 2014
Winter. A red-bearded, tobacco-chewing man is hiking the Klondike not far from the Bering Sea.
“Day had broken cold and gray, exceedingly cold and gray, when the man turned aside from the main Yukon trail and climbed the high earth-bank, where a dim and little-travelled trail led eastward through the fat spruce timberland.”
Ice jams and unbroken snow as far as the eye can see. Fifty degrees below zero. Harsh winds. One man, two bacon biscuits, and his dog. They travel alone through a hostile environment, headed to the camp where the man knows he’ll find warmth, food, and safety. But he makes a simple mistake, one that reconnects him to his animal instincts.
We tend to think of horror as supernatural powers against human powers, but in this tale, it’s the brutal power of nature who is the antagonist. Nobody does wilderness stories better than Jack London. This is one of those old stories that has fallen off the radar over the years. In To Build a Fire, London’s vivid imagery, mood, atmosphere, and sounds take the reader into a tale where there is “no sun or hint of sun.” Maybe the world truly is heartless and indifferent? Maybe we are truly alone when facing our hardships?
“A certain fear of death, dull and oppressive, came to him. This fear quickly became poignant as he realized that it was no longer a mere matter of freezing his fingers and toes, or of losing his hands and feet, but that it was a matter of life and death with the chances against him.”
When was the last time you were paralyzed by a fearful cold in your life?
Read the short story at JackLondons.net
Listen to the audio on YouTube
Watch the film, directed by David Cobham and narrated by Orson Wells. I really enjoyed this film. Beautifully done! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBB06RLmCcU
Other Reading Web Sites to Visit
For Authors/Writers: The Writer Unboxed
Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors.