PASHKA OF BEAR RAVINE by Grigori Fedoseyev


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From Russia, a journey into the taiga, and glimpses of a boy or rare spirit you""d like to know longer.' The narrator is some kind of scientist (undefined Until the end) involved in some sort of scientific project only allusively described. While awaiting a plane to a remote station, he comes to know an old forester, Guryanich, and his grandson, the Pashka of the title. The reader is treated to brief encounters with the lingering Winter and an appealing pet goat in the company of these two, and a little revelation of Pashka's cleverness and obstinacy, before the imported crisis: cobwebs from a spider's cocoon must be procured and then delivered to a mountain outpost to enable a fellow-scientist to continue her delicate and crucial observations. Pashka comes up with the cobwebs, and the narrator persuades Guryanich to lead the expedition. Their confrontation with nature--a moose appearing during a night on the marsh, a tame bear returning to the wild--and an implied plea for conservation form the essence of the story, but Pashka is never far from the center of events, and in the final sequences he outwits both of his elders and proves himself the best hunter of the three. This has both the attraction and the handicap of being very different from what kids are accustomed to: the form is loose, the narrator is rather amorphous, the point of view is adult; and the action is discontinuous and sometimes non-existent. But it is contemporary Russian, and it does have something to say about attitudes, something to show about character, besides the beautiful scenes in the taiga.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1967
Publisher: Pantheon