What is counter intelligence

The sea wolf: physical strength versus intelligence

Shortly before his 28th birthday, Jack London finished work on his novel "The Sea Wolf" in 1904. At that time he was already highly regarded. The year before, "The Call of the Wild" was published, which put the writing career suddenly on the road to success would have. From now on the public wanted to know exactly what else this daredevil teller would come up with. The conditions in a sometimes quite prudish America were not ideal. The conservative monthly Century insisted on weakening the preprint of "Der Seewolf" in order not to unsettle its readers with anything "indecent". The changes should be reversed for the book edition. Translator Lutz-W. Wolff writes in his epilogue to the new translation that Jack London's interventions in the proofs were so extensive "that in the end he had to pay the correction costs out of his own pocket."

As precisely as now, one has not been able to get a picture of this novel in German so far. It has been traded for more than a teenage adventure story. However, this is a study of power and arbitrariness. A crash of cultures takes place, which is carried out using the example of a ruthless captain and a sensitive literary critic. The two do not fit together, they stand opposite each other as antagonistic forces on the high seas, from where there is no escape. Chance brings them together when Humphrey van Weyden is rescued by the crew of the sealer "Ghost" after a shipwreck.

Conflict between tolerance and raw authority

The battle of two principles rages on board from now on. One went through the school of Enlightenment and was shaped by the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčtolerance, the other embodies the raw authority that does not tolerate contradiction and at best accepts people as labor. Physical strength versus intelligence, Jack London plays out the conflict with psychological sophistication. And because he's a gripping narrator, he doesn't need theory to make the characters seem plausible, but rather he demonstrates them to us by virtue of their work. The novel is so action-intensive and loaded with tension that it grabs the reader with his curiosity, who wants to know where the whole thing will end. The dialogues are powerful and lively, they are just as much a battlefield for the various postures as the ship that becomes an arena for exhibition battles of opposites.

The author said that "mastery" was the subject of the book. "That can mean a lot," says the translator: "Domination, mastery, self-control, discipline, control, but also violence, oppression, cruelty and sadism." A multi-layered book that you won't come to an end with so quickly.

The sea wolf

Jack London novel. From the American. by Lutz-W. Wolff. dtv 2014. 407 pp., carton, E 10.20