For those of you who read my previous post about Jack London’s Call of the Wild, the fact that I did not like his book White Fang either, will come as no surprise. London’s style is very distinctive. If you like him, you’re going to like everything. If not, not so much. It also features an anthropomorphised creature in the starring role, something which you will already know I am not fond of in terms of literature.
White Fang tells the story of the cub White Fang, part dog, part wolf, born in the wild, but strangely drawn to man through his dog heritage, and yet at war with himself and his surroundings for much of his life. The book charts his mother’s life, his birth and then his own life and all the adventures and misadventures and in particular, misfortunes White Fang has to live through in order to find his true home and nature.
If I had read this as a child I probably would have enjoyed it more than I do reading it as an adult. I would have failed to notice the racism of the author waxing lyrical about the failures of the Red Indians to progress as a race and the superiority of the upper middle class white man in everything he does. I would also have found the episodes where White Fang is captured and forced to fight dogs probably less upsetting than I do now. As it is, I just found the book pushed me from one thing that upset or offended me to another and I disliked it more than Call of the Wild, although it is a more exciting and dynamic book than Call of the Wild.
Again, if you love stories about animals and adventures with plenty of tear sodden episodes in, this book will undoubtedly hit the spot, but as a girl I always hated sad animal stories and it took me until I was in my thirties to brave Black Beauty, Tarka the Otter and Watership Down and I think I was right to leave them until l was older. As for these, I really feel my life would not be any worse for never having read them, no matter how classic they are.