THE HUNTER AND THE WHALE by Laurens van der Post


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A tale of Africa that moves into ""the uncircumscribed area of existence where all our brightest intelligence and deepest experience fails and what is despised as superstition becomes the best available answer to the onslaught of the great unknown..."" The narrator recalls his four vears on the whaler, Kurt Hansen, whose captain, Thor Larsen, treats him as a sorcerer acknowledging a chosen apprentice. He becomes Peter-Bright-Eyes, the best whale spotter aboard, and in that capacity is a part of the tragedy unfolded here. Larsen is a compulsive whaler, seeking the greatest prize; to him comes de is Buschagne, hunter of elephants, who has read his job (""Canst then lift out Leviathan with a hook?""). The men make a pact, the greatest elephant for the greatest whale. But with the prize won, both perish at sea, an ending of poetic proportions. About this simple central tale Mr. Post weaves the spell of native Africa, of Mlangeni, the stoker who collects hair and nails from the captain surreptitiously for doctoring, who feels his brothers calling when the Zulus riot in the streets of Port Natal. The narrator's understanding and sympathy assimilates this exotica. An engaging, unpretentious tale, a successful transplant.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 1967
Publisher: Morrow