WHO HAS SEEN THE WILD by W.O. Mitchell
Kirkus Star

WHO HAS SEEN THE WILD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Here's a ""first"" you should not miss. Called a ""novel"" --and so classified by its publishers, actually it seems a bit drawn out of actuality, a re-lived period of boyhood, vitalized by maturity into sharpened significance, but rarely losing the impress of boyhood's sense of wonder, of thrill, of awareness. Brian O'Connal is four at the book's opening; at its close he is facing a future that holds for him a different kind of closeness with nature, as he wants to go into scientific farming. But that magic- that groping for the meaning that things had for him has almost vanished, boyhood is behind a closing door. Into these years have gone sharpened experiences, highlighted by contacts with his teachers, by his friendships, his loyalties, the loss of the father who understood him, the growing link with the grandmother he had thought he hated, and always backgrounded by the far reaches of the Saskatchewan prairies. Bits of the town's conflicts impinge on him- but for the reader they take on meaning as showing survivals of old intolerances, even in the 1930's- old fears of humanity meaning radicalism, fears of the breakdown of the social barriers. There are a few sharply vignetted characters and episodes involving them,- the two ministers, standing for contrasting points of view, Digby, the school-teacher, who eventually wins a long battle against the banker's wife, the doctor, the two grade teachers, and some of the town's characters, ""the Bens"", Saint Sammy, Brian's own Uncle Sean, and others. There's an offstage motif of the wind, a factor for good and ill on the prairie. And there's a sensitive awareness of the tenuous and fleeting impressions of the boy growing up that has something of the appeal of The Yearling. I liked it.

Pub Date: Feb. 18th, 1947
Publisher: Little, Brown