"Sea Wolf" - a novel by Jack London , written by him in 1904 .
Cover of the first edition of the book
The novel takes place in 1893  in the Pacific Ocean . Humphrey Van Weyden, a resident of San Francisco , a well-known literary critic, takes a ferry across the Golden Gate to visit his friend and gets into a shipwreck along the way. From the water he is picked up by the captain of the fishing schooner “Ghost” ( Eng. Ghost ), whose name is Wolf Larsen on board  .
For the first time, asking about the captain from the sailor who brought him to consciousness, Van Weyden finds out that he is "mad". When the newly recovered Van Weyden enters the deck to speak with the captain, the assistant captain dies before his eyes. Then Wolf Larsen appoints one of the sailors as his assistant, and puts George Lich in his place as a sailor. He does not agree with such a move and Wolf Larsen brutally knocks him out. And the 35-year-old intellectual of Van Weyden, Wolf Larsen makes a young man, giving him to the immediate superiors of Coca Magridge - a tramp from the London slums, slime scammer, scammer and slut. Magridge, who had just laughed at the "gentleman" who got on board the ship when he is subordinate to him, begins to pester him.
Larsen on a small schooner with a team of 22 people goes to harvest fur skins of the North Pacific and takes Van Weiden with him, despite his desperate protests.
The next day, Van Weyden discovers that the coke has robbed him. When Van Weyden announces Coca about it, Coca threatens him. Acting as a young man, Van Weyden cleans up the captain’s cabin and is surprised to find books on astronomy and physics, the works of Darwin , the works of Shakespeare , Tennyson , Swinburne and Browning . Encouraged by this, Van Weyden complains to the captain about Coca. Wolf Larsen mockingly tells Van Weyden that he himself is guilty of sinning and seducing Coca with money, and then he seriously sets out his own philosophy, according to which life is meaningless and similar to leaven, and "the strong devour the weak."
From the team, Van Weyden learns that Wolf Larsen is famous in the professional environment for reckless courage, but even more terrible cruelty, because of which he even has problems with the recruitment of the team; is on his conscience and murder. The order on the ship rests entirely on the extraordinary physical strength and authority of Wolf Larsen. The captain punishes cruelly for any offense. Despite his terrible power, Wolf Larsen experiences bouts of severe headache.
Having drunk Magridge, Wolf Larsen wins his money in cards, finding out that besides this stolen sum, the tramp Coca has no pennies. Van Weyden recalls that the money belongs to him, but Wolf Larsen takes it to himself: he believes that “weakness is always to blame, strength is always right”, and declares morality and any ideals as illusions.
Frustrated by the loss of money, the cook rips off evil on Van Weyden and begins to threaten him with a knife. Upon learning of this, Wolf Larsen mockingly declares to Van Weyden, who had previously told Wolf Larsen that he believes in the immortality of the soul, that the coca cannot harm him, since he is immortal, and if he is reluctant to go to heaven, let him send coca there with his knife.
In desperation, Van Weyden picks up an old cleaver and defiantly grinds it in front of the whole team, preparing for a real bloody battle, but the frightened coke backs off and again begins to grovel in front of Van Weyden, who becomes the master in the galley.
The ship has an atmosphere of terror and primitive fear, since the captain always acts in accordance with his conviction that human life is the cheapest of all cheap things. The captain relies against the sailors on hunters in a privileged position, and Van Weiden the further, the more favored. Moreover, starting the journey on the ship with an assistant to the cook, “Hump”  (a hint at the stoop of people with mental labor), as he was called by Larsen, makes a career as an assistant captain. The reason is that the refined intellectual Van Weyden and Larsen, who came down from the bottom and at one time led a life where “kicks and bruises in the morning and the future sleep replace words, and fear, hatred and pain are the only things that nourished the soul” , find a common language in the field of literature and philosophy, which are not alien to the captain. In his spare time, the captain is fond of mathematics and optimizes navigation devices.
Kok, who previously had the captain’s disposition, is trying to get him back, reporting to one of the sailors, Johnson, who dared to express dissatisfaction with the robe he had been given. Johnson, despite the good work, was before the captain on a bad account, as he had a sense of dignity. In the cabin, Larsen and new assistant Johansen brutally beat Johnson in front of Van Weyden, and then drag the unconscious Johnson onto the deck. Here, unexpectedly, Wolf Larsen at all denounces the former young Lich. Leach then beats Magridge almost to the same condition that Johnson found himself in. But, to the surprise of Van Weyden and the rest, Wolf Larsen does not touch Leach.
One night, Van Weyden sees Wolf Larsen rising across the side of the ship, all wet and with a bloodied head. Along with a poor understanding of what is happening at Van Weyden, Wolf Larsen descends into the cockpit and tries to determine which of the sailors is sleeping and who is pretending to be sleeping. At this moment, sailors, led by Lich, pounce on Wolf Larsen and try to kill him, but the lack of weapons, darkness and multiplicity (in the crush they interfere with each other) lead to the fact that Wolf Larsen, using his extraordinary physical strength, gets up the ramp up .
After that, Wolf Larsen calls in Van Weyden and appoints him as his assistant (the previous assistant, Johansen, had just hit Larsen on the head and thrown overboard, but he, unlike Wolf Larsen, was unable to swim and died), although he initially does not understand anything in navigation.
After a failed riot, the captain’s handling of the team becomes even more cruel, especially to Leach and Johnson, since the murder of Johansen is clearly their work. Everyone, including Johnson and Leach themselves, is confident that Wolf Larsen will kill them. Wolf Larsen himself says the same, but still does not kill Lich, despite the new assassination attempts by the sailor: Larsen enjoys the double pleasure of the constant play of death and his own mockery of Lich. At the same time, the captain’s own headache attacks intensify, now lasting several days.
Johnson and Leach manage to escape on one of the boats. During the persecution of the fugitives, the crew of the Phantom picks up another company of the victims of the disaster, including a young woman, the poetess Maud Brewster. At first glance, Humphrey is attracted to Maud. The storm begins. Outraged because of the fate of Leach and Johnson, Van Weyden announces to Wolf Larsen that he will kill him if he continues to mock Leach and Johnson. Wolf Larsen congratulates Van Weyden that he finally became an independent person and swears that he will not touch Leach and Johnson with his finger. In the eyes of Wolf Larsen, a mockery is visible at the same time. Soon, Wolf Larsen overtakes Leach and Johnson. Wolf Larsen comes close to the boat and never takes them aboard, thereby drowning Lich and Johnson. Van Weyden is stunned.
Wolf Larsen had even threatened an untidy cook, that if he did not change his dirty shirt, the captain would buy it. Once Larsen orders to lower Magridge into the sea on a rope, to the pleasure and fun of the whole team, who hates Coca for denunciations and disgusting cooking. As a result, the cocc loses its foot, bitten off by a shark. The witness of the scene becomes Maud.
Wolf Larsen has a brother nicknamed Death Larsen, captain of the Macedonia fishing boat, which is said to carry weapons and opium, the slave trade, and piracy, in addition to hunting for cats. The brothers hate each other. Once Wolf Larsen meets Larsen's Death and after a naval battle on boats takes several members of his brother’s team, forcing them to hunt seals with his team.
The wolf is also attracted to Maud, in the end trying to rape her, but abandons her attempt due to the onset of a severe headache attack. At the same time, Van Weyden, who at first rushed at Larsen with a cleaver in a fit of indignation and an awakening love for Maud, first saw Wolf Larsen truly frightened.
Immediately after this incident, Van Weyden and Maud decide to flee the Ghost while Wolf Larsen is in his cabin with another attack. Having captured a boat with a small supply of food, they set sail for Japan, and after a few weeks wandering around the ocean they find land and land on a small island, which Maud and Humphrey called Endeavor Island . They can’t leave the island and are preparing for a long winter.
After a while, a broken schooner nails to the island. This is the "Ghost" on board which is Wolf Larsen. He lost his sight (apparently, this happened during the attack that prevented him from raping Maud). It turns out that the death of Larsen, two days after the escape of Van Weyden and Maud took the “Ghost” on board and bribed the hunters, leaving his brother alone on his schooner. Kok finally avenged Wolf Larsen, sawing up the mast.
The crippled Ghost, with its broken masts, drifted in the ocean until it was nailed to Force Island. By the will of fate, it was on this island that Captain Larsen, who was blinded by a brain tumor, discovers a rich rookery of seals that he has been looking for all his life.
Maud and Humphrey, at the cost of incredible efforts, put the Phantom in order and take it to the open sea. Larsen, who is consistently denied all eyes after vision, is paralyzed and dies. At the moment when Maud and Humphrey finally find a rescue ship in the ocean, they confess their love to each other.
Wolf Larsen Philosophy
Wolf Larsen professes a peculiar philosophy of life ferment ( English yeast ) - a natural principle that unites a person and an animal that survives in an unfriendly world. The more leaven in a person, the more actively he fights for a place in the sun and achieves more.
This materialistic, individualistic philosophy is a form of social Darwinism . It also shows the features of Malthusianism.
London has noticed that the Sea Wolf is against Nietzsche’s philosophy.
The book demonstrates the perfect knowledge of the author of maritime affairs, navigation and sailing rigging . Jack London gained this knowledge in those days when he worked as a sailor in a fishing vessel in his youth. So he writes about the ghost schooner:
The Ghost is an eighty-ton schooner of excellent design. Its greatest width is twenty-three feet, and its length exceeds ninety. The unusually heavy lead false tail (its weight is not known exactly) gives it great stability and allows you to carry a huge sail area. From the deck to the mainsail mainsail, it’s more than one hundred feet, while the foremast and the mast are ten feet shorter.
The prototype of Wolf Larsen was Alexander MacLane  . Alexander MacLane, like London, was a "self made man." The most famous poacher of the last quarter of the 19th century, who climbed out of poverty into the owners of yachts and steamboats. It was him on both coasts of the USA and Canada (as well as in the criminal chronicle long before the release of the novel) that they called “Sea Wolf”. Which, incidentally, is translated from English rather as a "pirate" rather than a "sea wolf."
In 1892, when 16-year-old Jack London first stepped on the deck of Sophia Sutherland, MacLane had already managed to fully realize his “dream” - the real “Sea Wolf” was born on May 15, 1858, and then, at the age of 34 , was considered the most successful captain of the Western Flotilla. And by 1903, when London began work on the novel, the 45-year-old MacLane became a legend after being put on the wanted list by five states (including Russia, Canada and Australia), and more than 70 people suspected of murder. It was him, already an elderly sailor, who was trailed by a train of bad fame, London and took as a basis for a key character.
Life itself was even with the real Wolf, showing how right London was when choosing its denouement to the novel. The corpse of Alexander MacLane was found at sea off the southwestern coast of Canada in September 1914. Was this murder or death by an absurd accident - remained unknown. McLane’s guilt was never proven in any of the murders in which he was suspected. On the occasion of his 150th birthday, in 2008, Canadian and American historians restored many facts of his biography and published a book where many and extensively argued that he was by no means a monster, but only the product of a bloody and cruel business, in the formation of which he played one of leading roles. However, historians have called the book Captain Alex McLean: Jack London's Sea Wolf. A literary villain has crossed out a real person. This is probably Captain MacLane’s pay for his “American Dream.”
In addition, Jack London’s autobiographical novel “John is Barley Grain” features Tiger Nelson, a young oyster pirate endowed with extraordinary physical strength. It is unlikely that the design of the names of Tiger Nelson and Wolf Larsen was a coincidence, and the reckless characters of both of them are very similar. And in the series of essays " People of the Abyss " of the owner of the apartment in London, where the London reporter stayed, his name was Thomas Magridge: the cock in the novel, which was also called, was also Cockney - a born Londoner from slums  .
- " Sea Wolf ", film, USA (1913). Director - Hobart Bosworth. Cast: Hobart Bosworth, Herbert Rawlinson, Viola Barry.
- “ Sea Wolf ”, film, USA (1920). Director - George Melford . Cast: Noah Beery, Tom Foreman, Mabel Julienne Scott.
- " Sea Wolf ", film, USA (1926). Director - Ralph Ins . Cast: Ralph Ins , Theodore von Iltz, Claire Adams.
- “ Sea Wolf ”, film, USA (1930). Director - Alfred Centell. Cast: Milton Sills , Raymond Hackett, Jane Kaitley.
- “ Sea Wolf ”, film, USA (1941). Director: Michael Curtis . Cast: Edward G. Robinson , Alexander Knox , Ayda Lupino .
- " Wolf Larsen ", film, USA (1958). Director Harmon Jones. Cast: Barry Sullivan , Peter Graves , Gita Hall.
- " Sea Wolf ", series, France, Germany, Romania, Austria (1971-1974). The directors are Alec Kreitor, Sergiu Nikolaescu , Wolfgang Staudte . Cast: Raymond Harmstorf, Edward Mix.
- “ Sea Wolf ”, film, Italy (1975). Director - Giuseppe Veri. Cast: Chuck Connors, Giuseppe Pambieri, Barbara Bach .
- " Sea Wolf ", a serial film, USSR (1990). Director - Igor Apasyan . Cast: Lubomyras Laucevicius , Andrei Rudensky , Elena Finogeeva .
- " Sea Wolf ", a television film, USA, Canada (1993). Director: Michael Anderson. Cast: Charles Bronson , Christopher Reeve , Katherine Mary Stewart .
- “ Sea Wolf ”, film, USA (1997). Director - Gary T. MacDonald. Cast: Stacy Keach et al.
- Sea Wolf , television film, Germany (2008). Director - Christoph Schreve. Cast: Thomas Kretschman , Florian Stetter, Petra Schmidt-Schaller .
- “ Sea Wolf (film, 2009) ”, mini-series, Canada, Germany (2009). Director - Mike Barker. В ролях: Себастьян Кох , Стивен Кэмпбелл Мур , Нив Кэмпбелл .
На русский язык роман в разное время переводили Д. М. Горфинкель и Л. В. Хвостенко, Т. А. Озерская, З. Вершинина.
- То, что год действия именно 1893-й, видно из текста четырнадцатой главы. Иогансен, отвечая, когда последний раз писал своей матери, говорит: «... в восемьдесят третьем. Десять лет назад».
- название романа Sea Wolf переведено на русский как «Морской волк». Однако это понятие, означающее на русском языке опытного моряка , на английском бы скорее звучало как sea salt или old salt
- от имени главного героя Humphrey — Hump на английском языке — горб
- Лондон писал в 1905 году: "McLean had an exciting record of adventure and upon his deeds I based my Sea Wolf character. Of course, much of the Sea Wolf is imaginary development, but the basis is Alexander McLean" - Don MacGillivray. Captain Alex MacLean. Jack London's Sea-Wolf. - Vancouver. Toronto: UBC-Press, 2008. - Introduction. p. 15
- Джек Лондон. Люди бездны. Глава XV. "Мать моряков".