Smitten with a beautiful and cultivated young woman, a bright but uncultured sailor determines to better himself intellectually and socially. Martin Eden turns his attention and energy from drinking and brawling to an aggressive pursuit of self-education through reading. Martin's determined striving leads to a resolve to become a writer himself, but his success comes at the price of disillusionment, leaving him stranded between his proletariat origins and the bourgeois world.
Originally published in 1909, Jack London's semi-autobiographical novel reflects the painful struggles with learning that led to his eventual achievement of literary fame. Martin Eden addresses the author's internal conflict between his dream of a cooperative socialist utopia and his survival-of-the-fittest evolutionary views. Widely considered London's most mature work, the book abounds in memorable characters and settings as well as thought-provoking explorations of the nature of love, the importance of remaining true to personal aspirations rather than others' expectations, and the injustice of class divisions.