The 45 Most Inspirational Jack London Quotes

Fellow Aquarian, social activist, novelist, and American journalist, Jack London is a true pioneer. He was also the first person to introduce the world to Science Fiction writings. London expressed his passion for the great outdoors with words as in “An Odyssey of the North”, “South Pacific”, and of course “The Call of the Wild.” You can find his books here.

During the early 1900s, Jack endured much as a youngster growing up in San Francisco, California. This included the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, which left his family home burned to the ground after catching on fire. Yet, in spite of it all, London never let things keep him down and became known as the literary pioneer of his time.

Upon meeting a local librarian by the name of Ina Coolbrith, he found the inspiration to further his education and love for literature. Not only did Jack bless loyal fans with award-winning books and novels but the most memorable quotes to live by. We hope that these 45 noteworthy Jack London Quotes inspire you and help bring insight into how to live a more fulfilling life.

Jack London Quotes

1. “The Wild still lingered in him and the wolf in him merely slept. — Jack London

2. “I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.” — Jack London

3. “The thought of drove him on, but he ran no more than a hundred feet when he staggered and pitched headlong. It was his last panic. When he had recovered his breath and control, he sat up and entertained in his mind the conception of meeting death with dignity.” — Jack London

4. “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London

5. “Show me a man with a tattoo and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past.” — Jack London

6. “At the man’s heels trotted a dog, a big native husky, the proper wolf-dog, gray-coated and without any visible or temperamental difference from its brother the wild wolf. The animal […] knew that it was no time for traveling. Its instinct told it a truer tale than the man’s judgment.” — Jack London

7. “I’d rather sing one wild song and burst my heart with it than live a thousand years watching my digestion and being afraid of the wet.” — Jack London

8. “I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.” — Jack London

9. “It did not lead him to meditate upon … man’s frailty … able only to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold. ” — Jack London

10. “A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog when you are just as hungry as the dog.” — Jack London

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11. “Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.” — Jack London

12. “It experienced a vague but menacing apprehension that subdued it and made it slink along at the man’s heels.” — Jack London

13. “To be able to forget means sanity.” — Jack London

14. “He was a killer, a thing that preyed, living on the things that lived, unaided, alone, by virtue of his own strength and prowess, surviving triumphantly in a hostile environment where only the strong survive.” — Jack London

15. “He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances.” — Jack London

16. “The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” — Jack London

17. “The aim of life was meat. Life itself was meat. Life lived on life. There were the eaters and the eaten. The law was: EAT OR BE EATEN. He did not formulate the law in clear, set terms and moralize about it. He did not even think the law; he merely lived the law without thinking about it at all.”

18. “He spoke to the dog … but in his voice was a strange note of fear that frightened the animal. ” — Jack London

19. “Intelligent men are cruel. Stupid men are monstrously cruel.” — Jack London

20. “The Wild still lingered in him and the wolf in him merely slept.” — Jack London

21. “He worked slowly and carefully, keenly aware of his danger. Gradually, as the flame grew stronger, he increased the size of the twigs with which he fed it. He squatted in the snow, pulling the twigs out from their entanglement in the brush and feeding directly to the flame. He knew there must be no failure.” — Jack London

22. “It’s better to stand by someone’s side than by yourself.” — Jack London

23. “The function of man is to live, not to exist.” — Jack London

24. “The dog was disappointed and yearned back toward the fire. This man did not know cold. Possibly all the generations of his ancestry had been ignorant of cold, of real cold, of cold one hundred and seven degrees below freezing point. But the dog knew; all its ancestry knew, and it had inherited the knowledge” — Jack London

25. “As one grows weaker one is less susceptible to suffering. There is less hurt because there is less to hurt.” — Jack London

26. ““Life is so short. I would rather sing one song than interpret the thousand.” — Jack London

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27. “Empty as the man’s mind was of thoughts, he was keenly observant, and he noticed the changes in the creek, the curves and bends and timber jams, and always he sharply noted where he placed his feet.” — Jack London

28. “But I am I. And I won’t subordinate my taste to the unanimous judgment of mankind.” — Jack London

29. “If cash comes with fame, come fame; if cash comes without fame, come cash.” — Jack London

30. “The old-timer had been very serious in laying down the law that no man must travel alone in the Klondike after fifty below.” — Jack London

31. “Love, genuine passionate love, was his for the first time.” — Jack London

32. “There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.” — Jack London

33. “It was … time to lie snug in a hole … and wait for a curtain of cloud to be drawn across the face of … space. ” — Jack London

34. “He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time.” — Jack London

35. “The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” — Jack London

36. “Well, here he was; he had had the accident; he was alone; and he had saved himself. Those old-timers were rather womanish, some of them, he thought. All a man had to do was keep his head, and he was all right. Any man who was a man could travel alone.” — Jack London

37. “The ghostly winter silence had given way to the great spring murmur of awakening life.” — Jack London

38. “Working carefully from a small beginning, he soon had a roaring fire, over which he thawed the ice from his face and in the protection of which he ate his biscuits. For the moment the cold of space was outwitted.” — Jack London

39. “Man rarely places a proper valuation upon his womankind, at least not until deprived of them.” — Jack London

40. “Later the dog whined loudly. And still later it crept close to the man and caught the scent of death. This made the animal bristle and back away. A little longer it delayed, howling under the stars that leaped and danced and shone brightly in the cold sky. Then it turned and trotted up the trail in the direction of the camp it knew, where were the other food providers and fire providers. ” — Jack London

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41. “They were not half living, or quarter living. They were simply so many bags of bones in which sparks of life fluttered faintly.” — Jack London

42. “He was bound for the old claim on the left fork of Henderson Creek, where the boys were already. They had come over across the divide from the Indian Creek Country, while he had come the round-about way to take a look at the possibilities of getting out logs in the spring from the islands in the Yukon.” — Jack London

43. “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

44. “This was a female of his kind, and it was a law of his kind that the males must not fight the females. He did not know anything about this law, for it was no generalization of the mind, not something acquired by experience in the world. He knew it as a secret prompting, as an urge of instinct – of the same instinct that made him howl at the moon and stars of nights and that made him fear death and the unknown.” — Jack London

45. “Every book was a peep-hole into the realm of knowledge. His hunger fed upon what he read, and increased.” — Jack London

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Jack London Video – Summary of Call of the Wild

This is a fun and very educational short summary of one of Jack’s most famous works.


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Jack London’s inspiring words touch a special place in one’s heart and soul.

Our own favorite quote is “I do not live for what the world thinks of me, but for what I think of myself.”!

It teaches us to disregard the goings-on in society, to stop, reevaluate the situation, and make a rational decision. No matter if you’re seeking self-help and enlightenment, or are an outdoor enthusiast, the above Jack London Quotes will provide endless reading enjoyment.

Image Credit: published by L C Page and Company Boston 1903, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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