John Barleycorn or Alcoholic Memoirs by Jack London (1876 - 1916)


  • Chapter 1-3

Chapter 1-3

Thursday 1st January 1970

In this episode of John Barleycorn or Alcoholic Memoirs, Jack London opens up about his struggles with alcohol and the demons he encounters through both friend and enemy, John Barleycorn. Read on for a candid analysis of London's journey with alcoholism.
28 minutes

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John Barleycorn or Alcoholic Memoirs by Jack London (1876 - 1916)
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John Barleycorn: A Candid Memoir of Struggles with Alcoholism by Jack London

I read back in my life and saw how the accessibility of alcohol had given me the taste for it.
In the first few chapters of John Barleycorn or Alcoholic Memoirs, Jack London provides an unflinching look at his own struggles with alcoholism. From his early experiences with beer to his later encounters with more potent drinks, London traces the development of his addiction and reflects on the role that alcohol played in his life.
He describes the saloon as a place of congregation, where men could escape the narrowness of women's influence and enter the wide free world of their peers. Yet he is quick to point out that John Barleycorn, the personification of alcohol, always exacts his due payment from those who befriend him. London distinguishes between two types of drinkers: the unimaginative, who fall frequently in the gutter, and the imaginative, who pay a greater toll for their friendship with John Barleycorn.
He reflects on the physical effects of alcoholism, from the slopping beer that spilled over his legs as a child to the deadly nausea and conviction of sin he experienced as an adult. Throughout his candid memoir, London offers a wealth of insight into the psychology of addiction and the ways in which alcohol can both seduce and destroy. For anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the ravages of alcoholism, John Barleycorn is a must-read.
Listen to the podcast here to gain a deeper insight into London's journey with addiction.