Martin Eden and Irene Von Christensen

File:Claus Christensen by Wilhelm Heuer.jpg



John Presco

They were destined to meet. The term ‘good breeding’ was not applicable to Irene, who was sometimes called ‘Rena’. Her beauty and stature went hurtling past the station where one usually disembarks. The term ‘Superior Race’ came to mind, for her genetics had no comparison. It was painful to look upon her as the train pulled out of the Sacramento station where she boarded. Irene was going to San Francisco to stay with her cousin.

Martin had gone to Salt Lake City to attend his mother’s funeral. She had married a Mormon, and Martin was introduced to his half-siblings. Learning Irene was seventeen, and did not know her way around San Francisco, Martin offered to escort her to her aunt’s house. Cradled in her arms was a manuscript written by her grandfather, Nicolaus Von Christensen, who had studied English literature, and had invented a Utopian Atlantis full of canals. The cousin had inherited many drawings. There had been a fight over Nicolaus’s estate. The cousins were chosen to carry on the Von Christensen legacy. For the first time in ten years…..the plan for Wolf Island was going to come together.

To be continued

In addition to the ministry, von Christensen, who rarely and almost exclusively studied English-language literature, dealt with new inventions and physical investigations and experiments.

Nicolaus Heinrich von Christensen

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Claus (Nicolaus) Christensen. Lithograph by Wilhelm Heuer 1828

Nicolaus Heinrich von Christensen,[1] (2 January 1768 † 8 March 1841) was a Danish Royal Major General and Chief Dike Inspector.

Table of contents

Life and work[edit | Edit source]

Nicolaus Heinrich von Christensen was a son of Lars Christensen (1719–1793) and Katharina Dorothea, née Ernst. His father worked as Chief Inspector of the Grand Duties. The couple had seven daughters and two sons.

Von Christensen attended the Kiel School of Scholars and the university there, where he enrolled in law. In 1786 he joined the Danish military and began studying mathematics in Copenhagen. In 1789 he continued his studies at the University of Göttingen with Abraham Gotthelf Kästner and Georg Christoph Lichtenberg[2] and became a Dr. phil. Doctorate. From 1791 to 1795 he worked for the engineering corps in Copenhagen, then in the fortress Rendsburg. In 1799 he undertook an educational trip to Holland, Belgium and the Rhineland. In 1800 he left the corps of engineers as a premier lieutenant at his own request and took over a position as dike inspector in Holstein. In the same year he married Louise Sophie Rötger (1773–1852) from Glückstadt. The couple had two sons, Ernst Johann Friedrich, Karl Adolf Heinrich (1803–1855) and a daughter.

On 17 June 1803 he returned to the Ingenieur Corps as an engineer captain. The Danish king stipulated that von Christensen should continue to work in civilian employment in Glückstadt. On 4 August 1808 he joined the General Staff in Copenhagen as an engineer major. After the collapse of the Kasenort lock (today part of Landrecht (Steinburg)) he returned to Glückstadt in 1809 and tried to prevent a flooding of the Wilstermarsch. In 1816 he took over the management of the military engineering affairs of the two duchies, which had its seat in Rendsburg. He also joined the Canal Supervision Commission and was promoted to Colonel Lieutnant in 1822. From 1823 to 1825 he regulated the groundwater level during the construction of the lock of the Eider Canal in Kiel-Holtenau. After the February flood of 1825, he documented its course at the mouth of the Sturgeon.

Since the storm surge of 1825 had caused numerous damages, a so-called Ober-Deichinspektorat was established in 1827. Von Christensen, who had been appointed colonel in 1826, took over his leadership at the opening in 1827. He thus headed the technical state supervisory authorities under the Rentenkammer and supervised the complete dike and drainage systems in Schleswig-Holstein. Based on the knowledge gained in 1825, he helped at a decisive point to raise or strengthen. In doing so, he supported the construction of new bermed oaks and stone ceilings and campaigned for the preservation and restoration of the embroidery of sea and central dikes. He paid special attention to the dike of the Wilstermarsch near Schelenkuhlen, which had damaged the flood over a large area. In 1829, von Christensen’s military activities ended with his promotion to major general. He then founded the storm surge reporting service and in 1835 meticulously observed the arrival and height of ebb and flow for three weeks on behalf of the English government on the coast of Schleswig-Holstein. His period of service, during which he had allegedly saved the state 331,000 Reichsbanktaler, ended in 1837.

Nicolaus Heinrich von Christensen died after a long illness in 1841 in Rendsburg.

Scientific papers[edit | Edit source]

In addition to the ministry, von Christensen, who rarely and almost exclusively studied English-language literature, dealt with new inventions and physical investigations and experiments. Over a longer period of time, he worked mostly practically, extremely precisely and little literature-based. He clearly rejected his own publications and left them to his sons, who were also active in hydraulic engineering. In 1830 he dealt with the laws that applied to water movements in canals. In addition, he invented a fire syringe initially intended for military use. In addition, there were experiments on humidity, in which he invented the “Plintho Bebaiometer”, a device for recording the strength of bricks. In addition, he designed a model of a fire bridge, which was later implemented in the form of the Westerbrücke in Copenhagen.

Honours[edit | Edit source]

Nicolaus Heinrich von Christensen received several medals and honours for his achievements:

  • On 28 January 1810 he received the Knight’s Cross of the Dannebrogorden
  • In 1824 he received the Decoration of Honour of the Dannebrogsmänner
  • In 1828 he received the Commander’s Cross of the Dannebrogorden
  • In 1830, the University of Kiel awarded him the honorary diploma of Dr. pil. h. c.

Literature[edit | Edit source]

  • F. H. Germar: Nikolaus Heinrich Petersen. In: Neuer Nekrolog der Deutschen. 19. Jahrgang 1841, 1. Teil, Bernhard Friedrich Voigt, Weimar 1843, S. 279–300 (
  • Marcus Petersen: Christensen, Nicolaus Heinrich von. In: Olaf Klose (Hrsg.): Schleswig-Holsteinisches Biographisches Lexikon. Band 1. Karl Wachholtz Verlag, Neumünster 1970, ISBN 3-529-02641-7, S. 106–108.

Martin Eden

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For other uses, see Martin Eden (disambiguation).

First edition
AuthorJack London
CountryUnited States
Publication date1909
Media typePrint (hardcover)

Martin Eden is a 1909 novel by American author Jack London about a young proletarian autodidact struggling to become a writer. It was first serialized in The Pacific Monthly magazine from September 1908 to September 1909 and then published in book form by Macmillan in September 1909.

Eden represents writers’ frustration with publishers. The central theme of Eden’s developing artistic sensibilities places the novel in the tradition of the Künstlerroman, which narrates an artist’s formation and development.[1][2][3]

Eden differs from London in rejecting socialism, attacking it as “slave morality” and relying on Nietzschean individualism. Nevertheless, in the copy of the novel which he inscribed for Upton Sinclair, London wrote, “One of my motifs, in this book, was an attack on individualism (in the person of the hero). I must have bungled it, for not a single reviewer has discovered it.”[4]


Plot summary[edit]

Living in Oakland at the beginning of the 20th century, Martin Eden struggles to rise above his destitute, proletarian circumstances through an intense and passionate pursuit of self-education, hoping to achieve a place among the literary elite. His principal motivation is his love for Ruth Morse. Because Eden is a rough, uneducated sailor from a working-class background[5] and the Morses are a bourgeois family, a union between them would be impossible unless and until he reached their level of wealth and refinement.

Over a period of two years, Eden promises Ruth that success will come, but just before it does, Ruth loses her patience and rejects him in a letter, saying, “if only you had settled down … and attempted to make something of yourself”. By the time Eden attains the favor of the publishers and the bourgeoisie who had shunned him, he has already developed a grudge against them and become jaded by toil and unrequited love. Instead of enjoying his success, he retreats into a quiet indifference, interrupted only to rail mentally against the gentility of bourgeois society or to donate his new wealth to working-class friends and family. He feels that people do not value him for himself or for his work but only for his fame.

The novel ends with Eden’s committing suicide by drowning.

Main characters[edit]

Martin Eden[edit]

A former sailor from a working-class background, who falls in love with the young, bourgeois Ruth and educates himself to become a writer, aiming to win her hand in marriage.

Ruth Morse[edit]

The young, bourgeois university student who captivates Eden while tutoring him in English. Though initially both attracted and repelled by his working-class background, she eventually realizes she loves him. They become engaged, with the condition that they cannot marry until her parents approve of his financial and social status.

Lizzie Connolly[edit]

cannery worker rejected by Eden, who is already in love with Ruth. Initially, while Eden strives for education and culture, Lizzie’s rough hands make her seem inferior to Ruth in his eyes. Despite this, Lizzie remains devoted to him. He feels an attachment to her because she has always loved him for who he is, and not for fame or money, as Ruth does.

Joe Dawson[edit]

Eden’s boss at the laundry, who wins Eden over with his cheeriness and capacity for work, but, like Eden, suffers from overwork. He quits the laundry and tries to convince Eden to adopt a hobo lifestyle. Toward the end of the book, Eden meets him again, and offers him a laundry. Joe, who likes the hobo life, except for the lack of girls, eventually accepts the offer and promises to treat the employees fairly.

Russ Brissenden[edit]

A sickly writer who encourages Eden to give up writing and return to the sea before city life swallows him up. Brissenden is a committed socialist and introduces Eden to a group of amateur philosophers he calls the “real dirt”. His final work, Ephemera, causes a literary sensation when Eden breaks his word and publishes it upon Brissenden’s death.

Major themes[edit]

Social class[edit]

Social class, seen from Eden’s point of view, is a very important theme in the novel. Eden is a sailor from a working-class background who feels uncomfortable but inspired when he meets the bourgeois Morse family. As he improves himself, he finds himself increasingly distanced from his working-class background and surroundings, becoming repelled by Lizzie’s hands. Eventually, when Eden finds that his education has far surpassed that of the bourgeoisie he looked up to, he feels more isolated than ever. Paul Berman comments that Eden cannot reconcile his “civilized and clean” self with the “fistfighting barbarian” of the past, and that this inability causes his descent into a delirious ambivalence.[6]


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London conjures up a series of allusions to the workings of machinery. It is machines that make Lizzie’s hands rough. To Eden, the magazine editors operate a machine that sends out seemingly endless rejection slips. When Eden works in a laundry, he works with machines but feels himself to be a cog in a larger machine. Eden’s Blickensdorfer typewriter gradually becomes an extension of his body. When he finally achieves literary success, Eden sets up his friends with machinery of their own, and Lizzie tells him, “Something’s wrong with your think-machine.”

Individualism versus socialism[edit]

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Although London was a socialist, he invested Eden with strong individualism. Eden comes from a working-class background but he seeks self-improvement rather than improvement for his class as a whole. Quoting Nietzsche and Herbert Spencer, he rejects the “slave morality” of socialism, even at socialist meetings. London stresses that it is this individualism that leads to Eden’s suicide. He described the novel as a parable of a man who had to die “not because of his lack of faith in God, but because of his lack of faith in men”.


When London wrote Martin Eden at age 33, he had already achieved international acclaim with The Call of the WildThe Sea-Wolf and White Fang. Despite the acclaim, he quickly became disillusioned with his fame and set sail through the South Pacific on a self-designed ketch, the Snark. On the grueling two-year voyage, as he struggled with tiredness and bowel diseases, he wrote Martin Eden, filling its pages with his frustrations, adolescent gangfights and struggles for artistic recognition.

London borrowed the name “Martin Eden” from a working-class man, Mårten Edin, born in Ådalen (at Båtsmanstorpet in Västgranvåg, Sollefteå), Sweden,[7] but the character has more in common with London than with Edin. Ruth Morse was modeled on Mabel Applegarth, the first love of London’s life.

Brissenden is modeled on London’s friend and muse George Sterling.[8] Brissenden’s posthumously successful poem “Ephemera” is based on Sterling’s “A Wine of Wizardry”.

In other media[edit]

I know Martin Eden is gonna be proud of meAnd many before me who’ve been called by the seaTo be up in the crow’s nest singin’ my sayin’Shiver me Timbers I’m a sailin’ away

  • The young Noodles reads Martin Eden in the Sergio Leone film Once Upon a Time in America (1984).
  • In La Belle Époque (2019), Martin Eden is the book that Victor Drumond had been reading 45 years earlier in his 1974 hotel room.
  • Kröger (Kevin Kline) lends Hélène (Sandrine Bonnaire) a copy of Martin Eden in the film Queen to Play (2009) by Caroline Bottaro.
  • Rai (Italian media company) released “Martin Eden”, a 5-episode TV miniseries, in 1979.[11]
  • “Martin Eden” is the title of the first song on the album Blackberry Belle (2003) by The Twilight Singers.
  • In Vladimir Nabokov‘s Pnin (1957), the title character asks for Martin Eden in an American bookstore, describing it as “a celebrated work by the celebrated American writer Jack London”, but nobody has heard of it, and they only have a copy of The Son of the Wolf. Pnin comments, “Strange! The vicissitudes of celebrity! In Russia, I remember, everybody—little children, full-grown people, doctors, advocates—everybody read and re-read him.”[12]
  • In It’s Fine by Me (1992) by Per Petterson, Audun says that Martin Eden inspired him to be a writer.
  • Talking to the policeman Marchetti in the sixth episode of season one of Un Village Français, Sarah tells him she is reading Martin Eden.
  • “Martin Eden” is the title of the first song on Feu, the debut studio album by French hip hop artist Nekfeu (2015).

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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