Empathetic Literary Analysis of Jack London's the Call of the Wild: Understanding Life From an Animal's Point of View

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Numerous tomes have been written about Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. This is the first one to talk about the dog Buck’s perspective in the novel. Beierl takes an empathetic approach to discussing the domestication of Buck in the story to use this novel as a platform for building empathetic relationships with animals. Very few scholarly works discuss literature from the perspective of an animal, and this one attempts to bring a fresh perspective at an old novel by theorizing empathetically with the characters, which plays a critical role in narrative-based responses to the novel. If characters can gain empathy from their audience there is a higher likelihood that the readers will have a positive response to the story. This book discusses how Jack London creates animal characters that form an empathetic bond with his readers. When readers can understand the inner, mental states of characters, they become motivated to form emotional attachments with them.


“Emotions are the gifts of our ancestors. We have them and so do other animals. We must never forget this… Dr. Beierl’s technique of empathetic literary analysis encompasses the replication of mirror neuron dynamics and validates a relationship between author-as-text and reader.”

-Prof. Marc Bekoff,
University of Colorado

“A significant text which underlines the importance of empathy for social and psychological well-being… Dr. Beierl demonstrates empathetic sharing between Buck and several men, in which the author creates meaningful empathetic characters.

-Prof. Gary D. Bron,
University of California at Berkeley

“A service for scholars of literature who also want to expand their universes in understanding current research about what happens cognitively.”

-Prof. Tracy Shier,
Boston College

Table of Contents

Foreword by Marc Beckoff


Chapter 1: Philosophical Foundations and Psychological Underpinnings of Empathy

Chapter 2: Reading as an Empathetic Activity

Chapter 3: Enabling Attitudinal Change through Empathic Literary Analysis

Chapter 4: The Empathic Reader: Analyzing Jack London’s The Call of the Wild
Developmental Stage 1: Buck’s Odyssey from Innocence to Experience
Developmental Stage 2: Buck’s Apprenticeship
Developmental Stage 3: The Call of the Wild

Chapter 5: Humane Narrative Fiction, Biophilia, and the Interspecies Bond


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