Book: Jack London's "Michael, Brother of Jerry"

December 13, 2008

I decided to read this first time I saw the quotation from the foreword. When I started reading it, there was no more chance stopping. The story of Michael, an Irish terrier, pulls you, and you can not leave Michael alone any more. Most of the story is written from Michael's perspective, and it's obvious that London understands the dog so deeply and truly. Anyone who ever lived with a dog will be surprised reading and in the same time recognizing things London is writing about.

The story is engaging, but maybe it helps knowing that London takes care of his readers, as well as of the story. I wouldn't like it if he went any more reader friendly, as than he would certainly miss his point, and in some way show disrespect for Jerry's destiny, as well as the destinies of many, many other animals.

Here's the quote:
Very early in my life, possibly because of the insatiable curiosity that was born in me, I came to dislike the performances of trained animals. It was my curiosity that spoiled for me this form of amusement, for I was led to seek behind the performance in order to learn how the performance was achieved. And what I found behind the brave show and glitter of performance was not nice. It was a body of cruelty so horrible that I am confident no normal person exists who, once aware of it, could ever enjoy looking on at any trained-animal turn.


I have indeed lived life in a very rough school and have seen more than the average man's share of inhumanity and cruelty, from the forecastle and the prison, the slum and the desert, the execution-chamber and the lazar-house, to the battlefield and the military hospital. I have seen horrible deaths and mutilations. I have seen imbeciles hanged, because, being imbeciles, they did not possess the hire of lawyers. I have seen the hearts and stamina of strong men broken, and I have seen other men, by ill-treatment, driven to permanent and howling madness. I have witnessed the deaths of old and young, and even infants, from sheer starvation. I have seen men and women beaten by whips and clubs and fists, and I have seen the rhinoceros-hide whips laid around the naked torsos of black boys so heartily that each stroke stripped away the skin in full circle. And yet, let me add finally, never have I been so appalled and shocked by the world's cruelty as have I been appalled and shocked in the midst of happy, laughing, and applauding audiences when trained-animal turns were being performed on the stage.


Cruelty, as a fine art, has attained its perfect flower in the trained-animal world.

You can find the e-book here:


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