The Jewish Chronicle - - Arts & Entertainment -

Ra­dio 4

AMER­I­CAN au­thor Jack London’s 1902 book, Peo­ple of the Abyss, about the poor of the East End, was shock­ing, pow­er­ful and in­flu­enced many, in­clud­ing Ge­orge Or­well.

More than a cen­tury later, his­to­rian Dan Cruick­shank traced London’s foot­steps. There is plenty in the pages of London’s book which res­onates in the 21st cen­tury, but one of the most as­ton­ish­ing things, we learned, was what he failed to men­tion.

His­to­rian Jerry White com­mented that: “Any­one com­ing to east London in 1902 would have been as­ton­ished at the ex­tent of Jewish im­mi­gra­tion”. But from London there was not a word about the teem­ing mass of hu­man­ity from east­ern Europe. Nei­ther was there any men­tion of the rag­ing im­mi­gra­tion de­bate.

Yet London was not ig­no­rant of Jews. He was in love with an Amer­i­can Jewish in­tel­lec­tual, Anna Strunsky but mar­ried an­other woman, pos­si­bly be­cause, like Hitler, he was a be­liever in eu­gen­ics. For what it is worth, Cruick­shank main­tained that London, who veered from so­cial­ism to fas­cism, was on the side of the an­gels.

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