The Star Rover

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The Star Rover
StarRover.JPG
First edition
Author Jack London
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Macmillan
Publication date
1915
Pages 329
ISBN NA

The Star Rover is a novel by American writer Jack London published in 1915 (published in the United Kingdom as The Jacket). It is a story of reincarnation.

Plot summary[edit]

A framing story is told in the first person by Darrell Standing, a university professor serving life imprisonment in San Quentin State Prison for murder. Prison officials try to break his spirit by means of a torture device called "the jacket," a canvas jacket which can be tightly laced so as to compress the whole body, inducing angina. Standing discovers how to withstand the torture by entering a kind of trance state, in which he walks among the stars and experiences portions of past lives.

I trod interstellar space, exalted by the knowledge that I was bound on vast adventure, where, at the end, I would find all the cosmic formulae and have made clear to me the ultimate secret of the universe. In my hand I carried a long glass wand. It was borne in upon me that with the tip of this wand I must touch each star in passing. And I knew, in all absoluteness, that did I but miss one star I should be precipitated into some unplummeted abyss of unthinkable and eternal punishment and guilt.

Background[edit]

The accounts of these past lives form the body of the work. They are in effect a series of powerfully written, but disconnected and unresolved, short stories. The writing sometimes rises to the level of poetry, sometimes sinks to the level of purple prose. According to Kevin Starr, London planned a historical novel of the West and used some of this material in The Star Rover.

The jacket itself was actually used at San Quentin at the time and Jack London's descriptions of it were based on interviews with a former convict named Ed Morrell, which is also the name of a character in the novel. For his role in the Sontag and Evans gang which robbed the Southern Pacific Railroad in the 1890s, Morrell spent fourteen years in California prisons (1894–1908), five of them in solitary confinement. London championed his pardon. After his release, Morrell was a frequent guest at London's Beauty Ranch.

Film adaptations[edit]

The Star Rover (1923 movie)
A silent film based on The Star Rover was released in 1923, starring Courtenay Foote, a well-known stage and screen actor of the time, as Dr. Hugh Standing.
The Jacket (2005 movie)
The 2005 movie The Jacket has a story credited to Marc Rocco and Tom Bleecker. Jack London is not mentioned. However, the director has said that the film is "loosely based on a true story that became a Jack London story."[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Full Mental Jacket". The Irish Times Weekly Guide to Entertainment. 2006-09-13. Retrieved 2006-09-13. . Quotes director Maybury: "'I know you think it is a load of Hollywood nonsense,' he says amiably, 'but it is in fact loosely based a true story that became a Jack London story.'"

External links[edit]