Saturday, January 22, 2011

Extracts: At least the winter doesn't get to be like this where I live

He dwelt upon the unseen and the unknown till the burden of eternity appeared to be crushing him. Everything in the Northland had that crushing effect- the absence of life and motion; the darkness; the infinite peace of the brooding land; the ghastly silence, which made the echo of each heart-beat a sacrilege; the solemn forest which seemed to guard an awful, inexpressible something, which neither word nor thought could compass... The magnitude of all things appalled him. Everything partook of the superlative save himself - the perfect cessation of wind and motion, the immensity of the snow-covered wilderness, the height of the sky and the depth of the silence. - from "In a Far Country" by Jack London

There's also a scene from the story where the two main characters, stuck in a cabin together for the winter (and you know that's going to end well), get a first brief taste of sunlight, a noontime that looks like dawn, after weeks of complete northern darkness.
Their eyes were fixed upon the north. Unseen, behind their backs, behind the towering mountains of the south, the sun swept toward the zenith of another sky than theirs. Sole spectators of the mighty canvas, they watched the false dawn slowly grow. A faint flame began to glow and smoulder. It deepened in intensity, ringing the changes of reddish-yellow, purple, and saffron... a miracle, the sun rising in the north! Suddenly, without warning and without fading, the canvas was swept clean. There was no color in the sky. The light had gone out of the day.


Claire said...

I feel so passionately for these people! Jack London is a writer that I know I enjoy- and yet something else pops up in my life every time I start reading something of his. I'm going to break out our very lovely box set and put it on the counter with the books that wiggle their eyebrows at me every time I walk pat their counter. That'll get me closer to reading it.

Thank you so much for your blog, I really enjoy reading it. Hope you're having a lovely weekend and happy Sunday!

ramona said...

Wow, Can you imagine? I agree, I can't complain about my little corner of the world.
Still... I can't help but wonder what life would be like if it were dark for several months out of the year, and that utter quiet..
Seems like there would be a lot of time to retreat inwards.
Thanks for posting this. I enjoy Jack London's writing.

naida said...

I have yet to read Jack London.
I like these passages you posted, I like the mood he is creating. I can picture it.

'the solemn forest which seemed to guard an awful, inexpressible something, which neither word nor thought could compass' <- I've always felt there was something slightly creepy about silent forests, and it's not something you can see or hear.

John Hayes said...

London was a very good writer indeed; his autobiography, "John Barleycorn" is quite a remarkable document.

Relyn said...

We just had a real live blizzard and I, too, thank God winters aren't like this where I live.