Martin Levin

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 167

Without too much sentimentality, Margaret Craven [in I Heard the Owl Call My Name] is inclined to idealize life in a Kwakiutl village on a Pacific inlet. This shred of an ancient culture practices enough of the old ways to keep it in harmony with the great chain of being. It is regulated fundamentally by the seasons, and secondarily by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police….

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Miss Craven gives an epic quality to the fading tribal ways by viewing them through the eyes of a young Anglican priest, who happens himself to be dying. The relationship of Mark Brian and his parishioners is oddly symbiotic; he passes on to the Indians some of his humanism, and accepts in return some of their fortifying stoicism. As this exchange develops out of humorous small encounters, it becomes an entrancing chemistry.

Martin Levin, "New & Novel: 'I Heard the Owl Call My Name'," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1974 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), February 3, 1974, p. 28.

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