On Jack London, banned books, and political agitation.
During his short career, Jack London achieved larger-than-life stature in American literature, and in the course of that short career he, like so many other writers of the Great-American-Novelist ilk, managed to produce a book that would be blacklisted, not only by American libraries and curricula, but also by a number of contemporary European dictatorships.
Preoccupied with the revolutionary flavor of much socialist thought at the time, multiple European regimes were wary of the influence of writers like London.
That book, The Call of the Wild, is inarguably London’s most famous work, which faced challenges in the United States largely as a result of its unflinching portrayal of animal cruelty, and its less-than-flattering depiction of a fictitious Native tribe. But abroad—in Italy, Yugoslavia, and Nazi Germany, where the book was met with yet fiercer opposition—the grounds for censorship and, in some cases outright book burning, hinged solely on London’s own socialist ideology. For even while explicitly socialist themes are hardly prominent features in The Call of the Wild, in London’s life and his other writings they loomed large. Preoccupied with the revolutionary flavor of much socialist thought at the time, multiple European regimes were wary of the influence of writers like London, and censoring his magnum opus was one means of curbing his influence as a social agitator.