The New York Times Book Review (essay date 1925)
SOURCE: "A Canadian Novel," in The New York Times Book Review, August 25, 1925, p. 9.
[In the following review, the critic praises White Narcissus for its expressive prose style, but faults the novel's lack of substance and heavy-handed use of symbolism.]
Raymond Knister, a young Canadian writer, has produced in White Narcissus a first novel of very considerable charm. It is a supremely atmospheric story, in which dark and introspective moods are developed and elaborated somewhat at the expense of the plot. Mr. Knister's prose is an excellent medium for the expression of his emotional attitudes; it never flags and never becomes clogged or difficult. The result is a novel of memorable color, and of regrettably thin substance.
Richard Miln, the protagonist of the story, is a successful advertising man, who was born in a remote and rural section of a Canadian Province. He returns from time to time to the neighborhood of his youth—partly to renew old associations and to recover the sense of his own identity. Behind the nostalgia which draws him back to the country there is a deeper motive. He always returns to renew the offer of his love to Ada Lethen, the sweetheart of his childhood. Richard is convinced of Ada's love for him, but he never quite succeeds in breaking through the emotional barriers which her strange home had erected about her. Ada was the daughter of a...
(The entire section is 435 words.)