John Barleycorn

By Jack London

First published in 1913, John Barleycorn is the first intelligent literary treatise on alcohol in American literature. London offers acute generalizations on Barleycorn together with a close narrative of his own drinking career, which was heroic in scale. It is, however, as an exercise in autobiography that his book principally attracts the modern reader. London’s life was tragically short but packed with episode and adventure. In John Barleycorn he records his early hardships in Oakland, his experiences as oyster pirate, deep-sea sealer, hobo, Yukon goldminer, student, drop-out, and – ultimately – best-selling author. Long neglected by London partisans (who wish he had never written it) and used against him by critics who would see him as a self-confessed drunk, John Barleycorn deserves to be celebrated for what it is: a classic of American autobiography.

288 pages

Location: San Francisco
# Cultural

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