People of the Abyss


“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 "People of the Abyss" is a firsthand account on Jack London's experiences in the poorest areas of London.

I loved how this book cheered me up. If there is anything that could remove our personal misery, it is the misery of others, and there is plenty of that in Abyss.

The book was written around the 19th century, which means there are no references to 911 or the World Wars, or twitter. And who cares? People in the Abyss do not mind those things eternally. They barely can figure out what to feed their seven children to bother about God, King and Government. 

Jack London never went overboard with melodrama. He bitterly dissects the details, as if it is natural for Abysses to exist, in his time, in any time. But it is just the way the world works, you know? Simple as that. Anyone could have been in that situation. Since nothing in life is guaranteed, any one could have their games played through and there is no chance of getting out and there is no hope for betterment and it is nobody's fault, really. It is just the way things are and will always remain in the Abyss, till Kingdom comes.

Then, maybe as consolation, just so that our thoughts don't freeze from despair, London touches upon small acts of kindness that keeps the Abyss from collapsing. A man carefully twists his mate's loose hair off her face and places it carefully behind her ear. He's proud of her; he wants her to feel and look beautiful, even though they were standing in queue for shelter and food.

Now, for that kind of attention from our mates, how many meals are we willing to miss?

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