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FOUND TEXT JACK LONDON The foUowing letters and preceding photograph are reproduced by permission of the Huntington Library, San Marino, California. For the information conveyed in the introduction and footnotes, Roger Austen's Genteel Pagan: The Double Life of Charles Warren Stoddard (Amherst, 1991) has been our principal source for information about Stoddard. Also useful was Lawrence Lipton's The Holy Barbarians (New York: Julian Messner, 1959). Principal sources onJack London have been Solitary Comrade: Jack London and His Work, Joan D. Hedrick (Chapel Hill, 1982); Jack London: A Life, Alex Kershaw (New York, 1997); and Jack London: An American Myth, John Perry (Chicago, 1981). THE LETTERS OF JACK LONDON TO CHARLES WARREN STODDARD INTRODUCTION In his biography of Charles Stoddard (Genteel Pagan: The Double Life ofCharles Warren Stoddard [Amherst: University of Massachusetts, 1991], xxxix) Roger Austen describes the Bohemian Club, established Ui San Francisco while Stoddard was traveling in the South Pacific. The young writers, artists and actors who started the club—many of them friends of Stoddard's—aligned themselves against the business class. In an early meeting they blackballed the president of the Bank of California, declaring that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Bohemia.* The Bohemian Club's antimaterialism was a stance of have-nots, artists who lived in the Bay Area from Oakland to Carmel. Their headquarters on Pine Street was a place for drinking and tomfoolery. In 1878 the club acquired property near Camp Taylor on the Russian River, where members engaged in midsummer antics, swimming Ui the nude and having mock ceremonies. For some of its members, the club was a fraternity where "feminine" tastes could be enjoyed. In his 1882 U.S. tour, Oscar Wilde drank the members of the Bohemian Club under the table—a considerable feat by a considerable drinker. According to Isobel Strong, Wilde's San Francisco hostess, Wilde regretted only two things about this trip to the West: not seeing Yosemite and not seeing Charley Stoddard, who had been forced to move East to make a living teaching at the Catholic University of America in Washington. Despite his long absence from the area, Stoddard continued to be one of San Francisco's mostly fondly remembered salon habitués. In a letter to him about Wilde's visit, Strong wrote, "But you, Charley, are the real aesthete—he affects what to you is natural and has not the languor, grace, or beautiful voice and so the general verdict is that we have a better aesthete at home than this fellow who came miles to 'show off.'"** The Missouri Review · 99 However, Ambrose Bierce, another member of that first generation of San Francisco writers, claimed to be getting sick of the "Miss Nancys" of American Uterature, by which he meant Wüliam Dean Howells, Henry James and Charles Stoddard. In the course of Stoddard's life, attitudes toward "maleness" and "femaleness" and toward sexuality Ui general were changing. The "feminine" was linked with the reUgious impulse, the unconscious, spontaneity and creativity . Homosexuality was not yet as defined or feared as it later became. People of the same sex might hold hands, embrace or kiss without necessarily arousing notice. But whether the late 1800s was a "more innocent" time could be debated; any undeniable appearance of adult homosexual behavior was met with horror and possibly draconian legal treatment. The year of Oscar Wilde's trial and imprisonment, 1895, might be viewed as a turning point. From then on, homosexuatity began to be thought of as a segregated state, and terms such as "invert" began to spread to wide usage. Also, the longer-term affairs of homosexuals were sometimes pedophilic, and it Was common in such cases for homosexual men to obfuscate their exploitation of lower-class children. Stoddard saw himself as fulfilling a fatherly role for his current "kid," whom he encouraged to think of him as "Dad." In 1900 Stoddard lost his teaching job in Washington and moved back to the Bay Area. He was in his late fifties and ailing, feeling old and out of it. The city had become busy...


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