ON A DARKLING PLAIN by Walter Stegner


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Stegner won a $2,500 prize for a novelette in the Little, Brown contest in 1937. This is his first full length novel, and while it has amazing holding power and facility of style, one looks back at it wondering just wherein lay the spell, for there is nothing particularly new in either matter or manner. The ultimate test -- by and large, however, is this: -- Is it interesting? And the answer, in this case, is indubitably Yes. The story deals with the complete disillusion of a youth gassed in the war, who sets out for the remote plains of Saskatchewan to find something of hope in life. He thought himself through with people, but his nearest neighbors, a Swedish couple with a 17-year old girl, help him to the realization of a need for humanity and a need for love. Then comes the epidemic of the flu, and once again death robs him of hope. But in the end courage and manhood triumph, and he faces life bereaved but strengthened.

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 1940
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace