John Barleycorn (novel)

John Barleycorn (Novel)

John Barleycorn (novel)

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John Barleycorn is an autobiographical novel by Jack London dealing with his enjoyment of and struggles with alcoholism. It was published in 1913. The title is taken from the British folksong "John Barleycorn".


In this memoir, there are the themes of masculinity and male comradeship. London discusses various life experiences he has had with alcohol, and at widely different stages in his life. Key stages are his late teen years when he earned money as a sailor and later in life when he was a wealthy, successful writer.

The Role of Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages play a big role in facilitating the themes listed above. The book is about the social facilitiation of alcohol, but is also a cautionary tale about the addictive powers of alcohol and its deleterious effects on health.

Seeing pink elephants

The first recorded use of pink elephants as the stereotypical hallucination of the extremely drunkThere are, broadly speaking, two types of drinkers. There is the man whom we all know, stupid, unimaginative, whose brain is bitten numbly by numb maggots; who walks generously with wide-spread, tentative legs, falls frequently in the gutter, and who sees, in the extremity of his ecstasy, blue mice and pink elephants. He is the type that gives rise to the jokes in the funny......
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