This article analyzes Jack London’s The People of the Abyss (1903) as an ethical and socio-political critique. I make the case that London’s writing is concerned not only with poverty, the urban poor, and the wasting forces of modernity (emblematized in the megalopolis, London), but also with the ideological dimensions of representation and narration. In the book, London assumes the familiar persona of an urban explorer (made popular and adopted by a variety of Victorian journalists and writers) and then systematically defamiliarizes the persona as a role that is played rather than as a subjective actuality. The result is a (meta)discursive and self-relfexive writing style that explores and problematizes the relational dynamics and representations of self and other, subject and object of discourse within and beyond the slums of late-Victorian London.


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pp. 15-40
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