Not Just Another Grouchy Grammarian

Musings about language, books, grammar, and writing in general

Review: The Scarlet Plague, by Jack London

I enjoyed Jack London’s relatively short piece, The Scarlet Plague, although I must admit I kept mentally flashing to Stephen Vincent Benét’s By the Waters of Babylon. I found this a bit odd because the two pieces don’t have a lot in common other than being post-apocalyptic, but there you go. In fact, London’s piece was first published in 1912, while Benét’s wasn’t published until 1937.

Sadly, the way the protagonist’s grandchildren interacted with him was all too recognizable to this former school aide — two of the three have total disrespect for the man, and the third is more about de-escalating the situation than respecting his grandfather.

Still, this was well-written, which shouldn’t surprise me. I’m no Jack London expert, but every time I do pick up a book of his the quality of the writing pleases me.

I would say give this a read, even if it’s not your kind of thing. You just might be pleasantly surprised. In fact, if you are in the mood, do try both of the pieces I mentioned. The Benét has stuck with me since I first read it in junior high school, which means it was so memorable that I’ve carried it in my head since 1965.

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