- Historic Sites
The Man Who Invented Himself
August 1977 | Volume 28, Issue 5
He did not write the great American novel, although he did write some good ones and some great short stories. He did, however, create the myth of the great American novelist. Still, it was not an entirely self-conscious creation. He thought himself to be exactly what he appeared to be. If his torments and tensions were hidden by his myth of himself, it was no bad thing; for a man who has a heroic myth of himself can achieve more than a man who knows himself too well and is afraid to move. To deny weakness, to insist on excess and success, is to live at full stretch. Jack London lived nine lives and wrote more than fifty books and died young. A man like that is worth his own myth—and his contradictions.