Quotes from The Sea Wolf

Jack London ·  425 pages

Rating: (20.6K votes)


“Why, if there is anything in supply and demand, life is the cheapest thing in the world. There is only so much water, so much earth, so much air; but the life that is demanding to be born is limitless. Nature is a spendthrift. Look at the fish and their millions of eggs. For that matter, look at you and me. In our loins are the possibilities of millions of lives. Could we but find time and opportunity and utilize the last bit and every bit of the unborn life that is in us, we could become the fathers of nations and populate continents. Life? Bah! It has no value. Of cheap things it is the cheapest. Everywhere it goes begging. Nature spills it out with a lavish hand. Where there is room for one life, she sows a thousand lives, and it's life eats life till the strongest and most piggish life is left.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“But, – and there it is, – we want to live and move, though we have no reason to, because it happens that it is the nature of life to live and move, to want to live and move. If it were not for this, life would be dead. It is because of this life that is in you that you dream of your immortality.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“My mistake was in ever opening the books.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“You stand on dead men's legs. You've never had any of your own. You couldn't walk alone between two sunrises and hustle the meat for your belly”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“I was jealous; therefore I loved.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf



“Do you know the only value life has is what life puts upon itself? And it is of course overestimated, for it is of necessity prejudiced in its own favour. Take that man I had aloft. He held on as if he were a precious thing, a treasure beyond diamonds of rubies. To you? No. To me? Not at all. To himself? Yes. But I do not accept his estimate. He sadly overrates himself. There is plenty more life demanding to be born. Had he fallen and dripped his brains upon the deck like honey from the comb, there would have been no loss to the world. The supply is too large.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“Pray do not interrupt me," he wrote. "I am smiling.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“He was not immoral, but merely unmoral.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“You are one with a crowd of men who have made what they call a government, who are masters of all the other men, and who eat the food the other men get and would like to eat themselves. You wear the warm clothes. They made the clothes, but they shiver in rags and ask you, the lawyer, or business agent who handles your money, for a job.

'But that is beside the matter,' I cried.

Not at all. It is piggishness and it is life. Of what use or sense is an immortality of piggishness? What is the end? What is it all about? You have made no food. Yet the food you have eaten or wasted might have saved the lives of a score of wretches who made the food but did not eat it. What immortal end did you serve? Or did they?”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“I'll have you know I do the swearing on this ship. If I need your assitance I'll call you." Capt. Wolf Larsen”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf



“Wolf - tis what he is. He's not blackhearted like some men. 'Tis no heart he has at all.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“He who steals my purse steals my right to live," was the reply, "old saws to the contrary. For he steals my bread and meat and bed, and in doing so imperils my life.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“Well, I am going to exercise my prerogative of roaring and show you how fares nobility. Watch me.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“I wandered all these years among A world of women, seeking you.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“He led a lost cause, and he was not afraid of God's thunderbolts........hurled into hell, he was unbeaten. A third of God's angels he had led with him, and straightaway he incited man to rebel against God, and gained for himself and hell a major portion of all the generations of man. Why was he beaten out of heaven? Because he was less brave than God? less proud? less aspiring? No! A thousand times no! God was more powerful, as he said, Whom thunder had made greater. But Lucifer was a free spirit. To serve was to suffocate. He preferred suffering in freedom to all the happiness of comfortable servility. He did not care to serve God. He cared to serve nothing. He was no figurehead. He stood on his own legs. He was an individual.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf



“Do you know that the only value life has is what life puts upon itself? And it is of course over-estimated, since it is a necessity prejudiced in its own favor. ...There is plenty more life demanding to be born. ...He was worth nothing to the world. The supply is too large.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“This is the first time I have heard ‘ethics’ in the mouth of a man. You and I are the only men on this ship that know its meaning. At one time in my life, I dreamed that I might someday talk with men who used such language, that I might lift myself out of the place in life in which I had been born, and hold conversation and mingle with men who talked about just such things as ethics.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“In years and years not one of them has been in contact with a good woman, or within the influence, or redemption, which irresistibly radiates from such a creature.  There”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“Surely there can be little in this world more awful than the spectacle of a strong man in the moment when he is utterly weak and broken.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“A pair of workman’s brogans encased my feet, and for trousers I was furnished with a pair of pale blue, washed-out overalls, one leg of which was fully ten inches shorter than the other. The abbreviated leg looked as though the devil had there clutched for the Cockney’s soul and missed the shadow for the substance.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf



“The champagne is already flat.  The sparkle and bubble has gone out and it is a tasteless drink.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“Kaptan Larsen'in Dünya Görüşü: "İnsan hayatını demek istiyorsun.
Ama yediğin balık ya da hayvan etlerinin insanınkinden hiç bir farkı yok.
Böylesine ucuz ve değersiz olan bir hayat için neden hasisce davranayım?
Yeryüzünde gemilerden çok daha fazla denizci, fabrikalardan ve makinalardan
çok daha fazla işçi var. Neden siz, karada yaşayan insanlar, zavallı insanlarınızı,
kentlerinizin kenar mahallelerinde sefil sokaklarınızda barındırıyorsunuz?...
Neden bütün hastalıkları ve açlığı onların üstüne yığıyorsunuz?...
Bir parça iş için vahşi hayvanlar gibi döğüşen insanlar gördün mü hiç hayatında?...”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“Видите ли, жизнь не имеет никакой цены, кроме той, какую она сама
себе придает. И, конечно, она себя оценивает, так как неизбежно пристрастна
к себе. Возьмите хоть этого матроса, которого я сегодня держал на мачте. Он
цеплялся за жизнь так, будто это невесть какое сокровище, драгоценнее всяких
бриллиантов или рубинов. Имеет ли она для вас такую ценность? Нет. Для меня?
Нисколько. Для него самого? Несомненно. Но я не согласен с его оценкой, он
чрезмерно переоценивает себя. Бесчисленные новые жизни ждут своего рождения.
Если бы он упал и разбрызгал свои мозги по палубе, словно мед из сотов, мир
ничего не потерял бы от этого. Он не представляет для мира никакой ценности.
Предложение слишком велико. Только в своих собственных глазах имеет он цену,
и заметьте, насколько эта ценность обманчива, -- ведь, мертвый, он уже не
сознавал бы этой потери. Только он один и ценит себя дороже бриллиантов и
рубинов. И вот бриллианты и рубины пропадут, рассыплются по палубе, их смоют
в океан ведром воды, а он даже не будет знать об их исчезновении. Он ничего
не потеряет, так как с потерей самого себя утратит и сознание потери.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“Between us and the bottom of the sea was less than an inch of wood. And yet, I aver it, and I aver it again, I was unafraid.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“We were talking about this yesterday," he said. "I held that life was a ferment, a yeasty something which devoured life that it might live, and that living was merely successful piggishness. Why, if there is anything in supply and demand, life is the cheapest thing in the world. There is only so much water, so much earth, so much air; but the life that is demanding to be born is limitless. Nature is a spendthrift. Look at the fish and their millions of eggs. For that matter, look at you and me. In our loins are the possibilities of millions of lives. Could we but find time and opportunity and utilize the last bit and every bit of the unborn life that is in us, we could become the fathers of nations and populate continents. Life? Bah! It has no value. Of cheap things it is the cheapest. Everywhere it goes begging. Nature spills it out with a lavish hand. Where there is room for one life, she sows a thousand lives, and it's life eats life till the strongest and most piggish life is left.”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf



“You have read Darwin," I said. "But you read him misunderstandingly when you conclude that the struggle for existence sanctions your wanton destruction of life." He shrugged his shoulders. "You know you only mean that in relation to human life, for of the flesh and the fowl and the fish you destroy as much as I or any other man. And human life is in no wise different, though you feel it is and think that you reason why it is. Why should I be parsimonious with this life which is cheap and without value? There are more sailors than there are ships on the sea for them, more workers than there are factories or machines for them. Why, you who live on the land know that you house your poor people in the slums of cities and loose famine and pestilence upon them, and that there still remain more poor people, dying for want of a crust of bread and a bit of meat (which is life destroyed), than you know what to do with. Have you ever seen the London dockers fighting like wild beasts for a chance to work?”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“He started for the companion stairs, but turned his head for a final word. "Do you know the only value life has is what life puts upon itself? And it is of course over-estimated since it is of necessity prejudiced in its own favour. Take that man I had aloft. He held on as if he were a precious thing, a treasure beyond diamonds or rubies. To you? No. To me? Not at all. To himself? Yes. But I do not accept his estimate. He sadly overrates himself. There is plenty more life demanding to be born. Had he fallen and dripped his brains upon the deck like honey from the comb, there would have been no loss to the world. He was worth nothing to the world. The supply is too large. To himself only was he of value, and to show how fictitious even this value was, being dead he is unconscious that he has lost himself. He alone rated himself beyond diamonds and rubies. Diamonds and rubies are gone, spread out on the deck to be washed away by a bucket of sea- water, and he does not even know that the diamonds and rubies are gone. He does not lose anything, for with the loss of himself he loses the knowledge of loss. Don't you see? And what have you to say?”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


“Это свинство, и это... жизнь. Какой же смысл в бессмертии свинства? К чему все
это ведет? Зачем все это нужно? Вы не создаете пищи, а между тем пища,
съеденная или выброшенная вами, могла бы спасти жизнь десяткам несчастных,
которые эту пищу создают, но не едят. Какого бессмертия заслужили вы? Или
они? Возьмите нас с вами. Чего стоит ваше хваленое бессмертие, когда ваша
жизнь столкнулась с моей? Вам хочется назад, на сушу, так как там раздолье
для привычного вам свинства. По своему капризу я держу вас на этой шхуне,
где процветает мое свинство. И буду держать. Я или сломаю вас, или
переделаю. Вы можете умереть здесь сегодня, через неделю, через месяц. Я мог
бы одним ударом кулака убить вас, -- ведь вы жалкий червяк. Но если мы
бессмертны, то какой во всем этом смысл? Вести себя всю жизнь по-свински,
как мы с вами, -- неужели это к лицу бессмертным? Так для чего же это все?
Почему я держу вас тут?
-- Потому, что вы сильнее, -- выпалил я.
-- Но почему я сильнее? -- не унимался он. -- Потому что во мне больше
этой закваски, чем в вас. Неужели вы не понимаете? Неужели не понимаете?
-- Но жить так -- это же безнадежность! -- воскликнул я.
-- Согласен с вами, -- ответил он. -- И зачем оно нужно вообще, это
брожение, которое и есть сущность жизни? Не двигаться, не быть частицей
жизненной закваски, -- тогда не будет и безнадежности. Но в этомто все и
дело: мы хотим жить и двигаться, несмотря на всю бессмысленность этого,
хотим, потому что это заложено в нас природой, -- стремление жить и
двигаться, бродить. Без этого жизнь остановилась бы. Вот эта жизнь внутри
вас и заставляет вас мечтать о бессмертии. Жизнь внутри вас стремится быть
вечно. Эх! Вечность свинства!”
― Jack London, quote from The Sea Wolf


About the author

Jack London
Born place: in San Francisco, California, The United States
Born date January 12, 1876
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