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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1118
AUTHOR: Jack London (1876–1916)
QUOTATION: I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.
ATTRIBUTION: JACK LONDON, Jack London’s Tales of Adventure, ed. Irving Shepard, Introduction, p. vii (1956).

This is generally known as London’s Credo. He is known to have said these words, just two months before his death, to a group of friends with whom he was discussing life and living.—The Bulletin, San Francisco, California, December 2, 1916, part 2, p. 1.

See also Nos. 11 and 575.