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Call of the Wild & The Incredible Journey

This study will provide a comparative analysis of Jack London's The Call of the Wild and Sheila Burnford's The Incredible Journey. The study will emphasize the differences between the two novels with respect to the audiences and purposes for which the authors are writing. Although both works are about animals, Burnford's story is typical of much children's literature in that it is carefully designed to make her child readers "better" in both a personal and social sense (braver, more loving, better citizens, etc.), while London's tale is meant to challenge his adult readers with respect to their perception and experience of human reality.

Burnford herself said that The Incredible Journey was "not intended . . . as a book for children," although it was the recipient of the Canadian Children's Book of the Year award for 1961 (Stott, 1984, p. 60). As Isabelle Jan writes in On Children's Literature, the history of stories for children about animals is littered with works which are too sentimental and anthropomorphic (Jan, 1974, p. 81), and Burnford's own book has been criticized for showing those very shortcomings (Stott, 1984, p. 60). Jan writes that "Animal fables for children have a long history which starts with Roman de Renart and the Fables of La Fontaine." Those works, highly original and challenging to their readers' imaginations, are contrasted by Jan with such works as "the dreary, labored caricature in the manner of Benjamin Rabier or the Contes de mon pere le Jars by Leonce Bourliaguet with their ridiculous animal . . . engineers" (Jan, 1974, pp. 81-82). Stott writes that the history of this genre features "trolls in Scandanavian stories, . . . fabulous creatures in Alice in Wonderland, . . . supernatural beasts in folklore, . . . magic horses, animals who can speak" (Stott, 1984, p. 79).

Animals in stories for children are generally treated, as Jan writes, as creatures inhabiting a realm "'betwixt-between'--that is, t...

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Call of the Wild & The Incredible Journey. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:34, March 20, 2019, from