portrait of Jack London
From Little Pilgrimages (1903)

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Quotes of the Day for 12 January 2004 – Jack London

John Griffith was born at San Francisco on this day in 1876. His mother was Flora Wellman, his father was probably the astrologer William Chaney, and his birth certificate might have included the Chaney name but was lost in the earthquake of 1906. He adopted his stepfather's surname before he left school at age twelve and went to work in a cannery. He escaped that drudgery by becoming an oyster pirate, when his boat was damaged he changed sides and worked for the California Fish Patrol. He served on a sealing ship on a trip to Japan, then hit the road with the hoboes, and only in 1895 returned to discover the Oakland Public Library and went to high school. He packed an incredible range of activities into his short life, but got up every morning and turned out a thousand words. He produced over fifty volumes including novels, non-fiction, and collections of short stories.

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You will find an expanded profile, photo, additional biographical links, and all quotes from this author on the author's Notable Quotable page.


The quotes:

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.

I write for no other purpose than to add to the beauty that now belongs to me. I write a book for no other reason than to add three or four hundred acres to my magnificent estate.

Show me a man with a tattoo and I'll show you a man with an interesting past.
     - All from Jack London, 1876 - 1916


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