THE RAIN BIRD by Sara Lidman


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Nothing is more clear in what is a rather vague and difficult novel than the religious sense inspired by the cruel climate, by the ominous forests, by the harsh and ubiquitous darkness which cloaks the Scandinavian countries. Miss Lidman's novel is shaped by the spiritual simile of light and dark, summer and winter, dour Christianity and childlike paganism. Linda Stahl is born in Norway to an ineffectual but loving mother and a self-abnegating, guilt-laden father who yearns for direct and decisive communion with God. His relationship with Linda is part of the pattern. By eschewing the tenderness and affection he feels for his daughter, by neither disciplining not caressing until it is too late, he forces Linda to become involved in a love-have relationship that she is too young to handle. When her father goes off to Gnome Mountain to forage for wood, the girl has a vision of his accidental death. She is known as a seer, a child clairvoyant and is alienated from her village and from her mother. Under the authority of the ""village whisper"" only, she is free to seek, in the sensual experience, that which was denied her by her father and now by her mother. The translation of Miss Lidman's novel seems somewhat awkward at times, especially in the transliteration of Swedish expletives. This would lead one to doubt the aptness of the entirety. Perhaps this, or perhaps the ethnic distance, makes The Rain Bird a work only intermittently lucid.

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 1962
Publisher: Braziller