THE JOURNEY WITH JONAH by Madeleine L'Engle

THE JOURNEY WITH JONAH

KIRKUS REVIEW

The reluctant prophet comes full circle with the aid of various percipient animals in Mrs. L'Engle's verse-drama, offering an unusual entree into biblical themes. Jonah is obdurate, even truculent, as he refuses to warn the people of Nineveh of God's intentions: "It's too far away in the first place./ In the second place I hate cities./ And in the third place...Nineveh is the enemy." But the birds will not let him be: Jay is impudent, Owl pontificates, Catbird explains: "It's not so much that he isn't willing to be his brother's keeper, as that he quite naturally feels he has a right to choose Just who his brother is." Stoned in Gath-hepher (Catbird: "A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country"), Jonah departs "from your presence. And His." In his travels, more troubles: a turbulent sea ("cast me forth"); an admonition in the belly of the whale ("You shall listen to me until you see the light of day/ And that will be when you decide to have not your way/ But God's way"): at Nineveh, the warning from Jonah and repentance by the populace but no wrath from God--Judah is incensed; And then "the voice of the turtle is heard in the land:" "It is easy to destroy one's enemy without suffering/ but to love him is the most terrible of pain." The philosophical interplay between Jonah and the animals advances with an easy, ironical wit that only occasionaly turns into farce, and the characterization of each is distinctive and vivid. This can be staged (and has been) but it makes intriguing reading also for the receptive young person.
Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1967
ISBN: 0374438587
Page count: 72pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1967




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