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In a far country

Jack LondonI have been travelling in the Yukon, and exploring the history of the 1897-98 Gold Rush. I have not put careful thought to my work in foresight, but have dwelled on the work of Jack London, who, like my great grandfather, headed for the Klondike Gold Rush. I like London’s prose, and something about the empty, bleak landscapes of the Yukon and the rough life of the Klondike, inspired him in a way that inspires me. In his short story, In a Far Country, He wrote something worth thinking about:

“When a man journeys into a far country, he must be prepared to forget many of the things he has learned, and to acquire such customs as are inherent with existence in the new land; he must abandon the old ideals and the old gods, and oftentimes he must reverse the very codes by which his conduct has hitherto been shaped. To those who have the protean faculty of adaptability, the novelty of such change may even be a source of pleasure; but to those who happen to be hardened to the ruts in which they were created, the pressure of the altered environment is unbearable, and they chafe in body and in spirit under the new restrictions which they do not understand. This chafing is bound to act and react, producing divers evils and leading to various misfortunes. It were better for the man who cannot fit himself to the new groove to return to his own country; if he delay too long, he will surely die.”

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