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John Barleycorn av Jack London
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John Barleycorn (utgåvan 2007)

av Jack London

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
4841437,346 (3.99)12
Published in 1913, this harrowing, autobiographical 'A to Z' of drinking shattered London's reputation as a clean-living adventurer and massively successful author of such books as White Fang and The Call of the Wild.
Medlem:uscer
Titel:John Barleycorn
Författare:Jack London
Info:Echo Library (2007), Paperback, 132 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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Taggar:fiction, English

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» Se även 12 omnämnanden

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Quando vivi una vita degna di un romanzo e scegli di tramutarla in un'opera scrivi un capolavoro. Quando, in questa stessa opera hai il coraggio di porti a nudo senza remore o freni e di giunger persino a parlar del tuo più feroce fantasma, consegui l'eccellenza. Romanzo straordinario. Un altro piccolo Martin Eden da assaporare, come un raro liquore, dalla prima all'ultima pagina. Una storia di lotta continua, continue cadute e continui riscatti. La vita, insomma... ( )
  Carlomascellani73 | Oct 30, 2020 |
This isn't an autobiography in the conventional sense. It's clearly and openly a Prohibitionist tract, published seven years before Prohibition came to pass. It just so happens that London chose his own drinking career to illustrate his argument. Hence, those looking for the story of Jack's life may be very frustrated as he ignores the details of his many adventures in favour of describing his many bouts of binge drinking and his slow descent into alcoholism (though he never admits to being an alcoholic - a mixture of macho pride and the era's poor understanding of addiction preventing).

Macho pride is a prominent, almost defining aspect of London's character, in fact. Despite writing of the evils of alcohol, he can't help repeatedly emphasising how his "superior constitution" allowed him to out drink nigh everybody he ever met and recover faster, too. Or do two men's work in the coal house of the electrical station, or carry more than the indigenous porters in the Yukon, or...the examples are numerous. Exactly how much exageration is going on here is hard to say, essentially unprovable. Nor did his pride limit itself to his physical prowess. He doesn't mind boasting about how he crammed two years' worth of high school in 6 months and passed the entry exams for the University of California, or how prodigiusly he read. Here the facts can be established because of the paper record: Not only did he make it to the Uni, his one semester there was an academic success, recording no grades below "B". His library was extant at his death and he used to scribble marginal notes, so it's easy to tell which books were used. Additionally, the references in his own books provide further evidence.

So whilst the reader won't learn more than the bare outline of London's life, there are character insights aplenty and if you want to see the social reasons for many a binge and many an insidious descent into addiction, from personal experience, here is as well-writed example as I can imagine.

It's a lively read, as compelling as any London fiction story or novel I've read (which is most of the major works, by now). Indeed, his second wife, Charmain, claimed it was fiction, alcoholism being extremely scandalous at the time - but the evidence doesn't back anything more than possible exageration of some of the binging episodes.

Clever as he was, though, London got the psychology of booze wrong in this regard: He thought Prohibition would work, that a generation would grow up without alcohol and never miss what they never had. Instead it was 13 years of the worst alcohol driven excesses in American history, driven by organised crime and the allure of the forbidden. He died before he saw himsekf proved wrong, though. ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
Ho iniziato a leggere "John Barleycorn" appena finito "La strada", come ideale proseguimento della biografia di Jack London.

Prima sbronza a 5 anni, ha vissuto come un Hobo (vagabondo per scelta) saltando di treno in treno ed elemosinando cibo, marinaio, scrittore di successo. lavoratore sfruttato e sottopagato, "pirata ostricaro", corrispondente di guerra.
Che vita quell'uomo!

Leggere John Barleycorn è un po' come leggere Martin Eden.
Se si è affascinati da London non si può non leggere questo libro che non parla solo di alcool e di sbornie ma di vita vissuta, la vita di Jack, che voleva l'avventura letta negli amati libri e andava a cercarla.

Ci sono capitoli dove Martin Eden viene fuori dalle pagine e si capisce quanto di biografico ci fosse in quel libro. Le nottate passate a leggere, il lavoro nella lavanderia, etc.

Uomo fortunato è quello che non può mandare giù più di due bicchieri senza ubriacarsi. Sfortunato è quello che riesce a mandarne giù molti senza farlo parere; quello che deve scolarsi molti bicchieri per provare qualcosa.

E la strada era aperta. Era come un pozzo scoperto in un cortile dove giocano i bambini. Serve a poco dire a un bambino coraggioso che tenta la strada della conoscenza della vita, che non deve giocar vicino a quel pozzo scoperto. Lui ci gioca. E i genitori lo sanno. E noi sappiamo che una certa percentuale di questi bambini, e i più vivaci e i più arditi, cadranno nel pozzo. Tutti sappiamo che occorre fare una cosa sola, coprire il pozzo. La stessa cosa vale per John Barleycorn. Per quanto lui dica di no, per quanto tu predichi no, non riuscirai a impedire agli uomini, e ai giovani che s'avviano alla virilità, di accostarsi a John Barleycorn, quando John Barleycorn è disponibile ovunque, e se John Barleycorn è dovunque sinonimo di virilità, e di audacia e di grandezza d'animo. La gente del ventesimo secolo può fare una sola cosa razionale, coprire il pozzo; affinché il ventesimo secolo sia il ventesimo secolo, affinché si releghino al diciannovesimo secolo e ai secoli che lo procedettero, le cose che a quei secoli appartennero, come il rogo alle streghe, le intolleranze, i feticci, e, non ultimo in questa barbarie, John Barleycorn.

Purtroppo come sappiamo, il proibizionismo non è servito a nulla, anzi, ha peggiorato le cose dando una bella spinta anche alla criminalità organizzata.
Però è curioso leggere che London volesse questo visto il tipo di vita che ha vissuto.

Non riesco a dividere i due libri (La strada e John Barleycorn). Per me fanno parte della stessa storia. La sua.
Consigliatissimo. ( )
  Atticus06 | Jun 9, 2020 |
Non penso di riuscire a descrivere a parole la vastità della noia e del disinteresse che ho provato nei confronti di questo libro: basti dire che è lungo 160 pagine e me lo sono trascinato per un mese. D'altronde è anche colpa mia, Jack London non è un autore che mi sia particolarmente caro (forse ho letto Il richiamo della foresta una vita fa - o era Zanna Bianca, di sicuro c'era un cane) e da astemia il tema dell' alcolismo su di me non ha nessuna presa, non riesco nemmeno ad empatizzare con le vittime, perchè è un argomento che sento lontano e su cui sono anche piuttosto rigida. Le continue vanterie dissimulate, la negazione del problema così tipica degli alcolizzati, tutto ha contribuito ad irritarmi invece che a coinvolgermi.
Non posso dire che sia scritto male o povero di contenuti, semplicemente è un libro che non è nelle mie corde e di cui avrei fatto volentieri a meno. ( )
  Lilirose_ | Oct 1, 2019 |
An autobiography of sorts from Jack London, who set out late in his short life to write a book advocating for Prohibition based on his personal struggles with alcohol over the years, ‘John Barleycorn’ being British slang for alcohol. While the book is not meant to be the comprehensive story of his life, it touches on enough of his many adventures and the way alcohol was intertwined with them as to be fascinating.

Coming from poverty and a home without love in San Francisco, London was an oyster pirate out on the Bay as a teenager, rode across the country by railroad as a hobo, sailed on long ocean voyages, and went north to the Klondike during the gold rush. He is an early form of Kerouac; rough and unpolished, but with the gift of articulating his experiences, and indeed, one of his books was titled ‘The Road’. In this book, he touches on the phases of life with varying levels of detail, but it’s enough to form a pretty good picture, and spur interest in further reading. Among other things he describes back-breaking labor and long hours in a cannery, a steam laundry, and shoveling coal, occupations which would help form his socialist political views – the natural reaction and movement in response to the extreme capitalism of the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, this belief in the brotherhood of the working man did not prevent him from embracing racism and the viewpoint of white superiority, though mercifully those views aren’t display in ‘John Barleycorn’.

Via his personal experience, what the book is really about the insidious ways alcohol has upon a person’s life. He repeatedly describes being in situations as a young man where to be sociable and accepted in a group of men meant going to the saloon with them, that he never liked the taste of alcohol and would avoid it when he could, but that he liked the camaraderie. Oftentimes his drinking was to great excess, and included a time when he fell into the San Pablo Bay and was in the water, inebriated, for about four hours, struggling towards the end against the tidal flows of the Vallejo and Carquinez Straits. It was his first instance of having suicidal thoughts, which he attributed to John Barleycorn telling him that it would be a fine way to die, and it’s a gripping passage.

As he got older, London would eventually crave the bottle, drinking throughout the day, and finding excuses for having more. Despite the honesty of these chapters, it’s fascinating (and sad) that he was still in denial about being an alcoholic, thinking that label only applied to someone with a biological predilection for the stuff, which he clearly(!) didn’t. Regardless, his solution was to advocate banning it, starting with voting for women’s suffrage to improve the chances of that happening – though it was ironic, as Upton Sinclair noted, that he was a drinker who had no intentions of stopping himself. London believed future generations would look back at his as one that had barbarically allowed legal drinking, obviously not foretelling the outcome of the Prohibition experiment in America which would begin just four years after his early death at 40.

Once he had made it as a writer, and a very successful one at that, London had it all in life, and yet suffered from depression, which as those afflicted with the condition know, is independent of all of the things which are supposed to make us happy. The book has several existentially haunting chapters, where he writes of the whispers of the ‘White Logic’, the inner voice personifying the nihilism of severe depression. He saw alcohol as taking the blinders off him, and seeing life with all of its repetition, tedium, and meaninglessness exposed. These are truly stark passages, riveting and nightmare-inducing, maybe because in their horror I saw glimmers of the truth, and maybe because of how sad London’s life was towards the end.

Quotes:
On adventure in life:
“For always, drunk or sober, at the back of my consciousness something whispered that this carousing and bay-adventuring was not all of life. This whisper was my good fortune. I happened to be so made that I could hear it calling, always calling, out and away over the world. It was not canniness on my part. It was curiosity, desire to know, an unrest and a seeking for things wonderful that I seemed somehow to have glimpsed or guessed. What was this life for, I demanded, if this were all? No; there was something more, away and beyond.”

On love, this as a young man already experienced in adventure, but not in the ways of love:
“Then came the agony of apprehension and doubt. Should I imprison in my hand that little hand with the dangling, scented gloves which had just tapped my lips? Should I dare to kiss her there and then, or slip my arm around her waist? Or dared I even sit closer?
Well, I didn’t dare. I did nothing. I merely continued to sit there and love with all my soul. And when we parted that evening I had not kissed her. I do remember the first time I kissed her, on another evening, at parting – a mighty moment, when I took all my heart and courage and dared. We never succeeded in managing more than a dozen stolen meetings, and we kissed perhaps a dozen times – as boys and girls kiss, briefly and innocently, and wonderingly. We never went anywhere – not even to a matinee. We once shared together five cents worth of red-hots. But I have always fondly believed that she loved me. I know I loved her; and I dreamed day dreams of her for a year and more, and the memory of her is very dear.”

On reading, loved the last line of this, and hope the old glory of youthful passion never fades:
“And I was very happy. Life went well with me. I took delight in little things. The big things I declined to take too seriously. I still read the books, but not with the old eagerness. I still read the books to-day, but never again shall I read them with that old glory of youthful passion when I harked to the call from over and beyond that whispered me on to win to the mystery at the back of life and behind the stars.”

On transience:
“And yet, with jaundiced eye I gaze upon all the beauty and wonder around me, and with jaundiced brain consider the pitiful figure I cut in this world that endured so long without me and that will again endure without me. I remember the men who broke their hearts and their backs over this stubborn soil that now belongs to me. As if anything imperishable could belong to the perishable! These men passed. I too, shall pass.”

On the ‘White Logic’, this is so dark:
“But to the imaginative man, John Barleycorn sends the pitiless, spectral syllogisms of the white logic. He looks upon life and all its affairs with the jaundiced eye of a pessimistic German philosopher. He sees through all illusions. He transvalues all values. God is bad, truth is a cheat, and life is a joke. From his calm-mad heights, with the certitude of a god, he beholds all life as evil. Wife, children, friends – in the clear, white light of his logic they are exposed as frauds and shams. He sees through them, and all that he sees is their frailty, their meagerness, their sordidness, their pitifulness. No longer do they fool him. They are miserable little egotisms, like all the other little humans, fluttering their May-fly life-dance of an hour. They are without freedom. They are puppets of chance. So is he. He realizes that. But there is one difference. He sees; he knows. And he knows his one freedom: he may anticipate the day of his death. All of which is not good for a man who is made to live and love and be loved.”

And this one:
“’Let the doctors of all the schools condemn me,’ White Logic whispers as I ride along. ‘What of it? I am truth. You know it. You cannot combat me. They say I make for death. What of it. It is truth. Life lies in order to live. Life is a perpetual lie-telling process. Life is a mad dance in the domain of flux, wherein appearances in mighty tides ebb and flow, chained to the wheels of moons beyond our ken. Appearances are ghosts. Life is ghost land, where appearances change, transfuse, permeate each the other and all the others, that are, that are not, that always flicker, fade, and pass, only to come again as new appearances, as other appearances. You are such an appearance, composed of countless appearance, composed of countless appearances out of the past. … Through all the apparitions that proceeded you and that compose the parts of you, you rose gibbering from the evolutionary mire, and gibbering you will pass on, interfusing, permeating the procession of apparitions that will succeed you.’”

On youth, this while drunk with a group of sailors ashore on one of Japan’s Bonin Islands:
“And one last picture I have, standing out very clear and bright in the midst of vagueness before and blackness afterward. We – the apprentices and I – are swaying and clinging to one another under the stars. We are singing a rollicking sea-song, all save one who sits on the ground and weeps; and we are marking the rhythm with waving square-faces. From up and down the street come far choruses of sea-voices similarly singing, and life is great, and beautiful, and romantic, and magnificently mad.” ( )
4 rösta gbill | Feb 15, 2019 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Jack Londonprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Levorato, Albert B.Översättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Magnus, ErwinÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Ster, Jac. v.d.Översättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Sutherland, JohnRedaktörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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He is the king of liars. He gives clear vision, and muddy dreams. He is a red-handed killer, and he slays youth.
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Published in 1913, this harrowing, autobiographical 'A to Z' of drinking shattered London's reputation as a clean-living adventurer and massively successful author of such books as White Fang and The Call of the Wild.

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