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178 Western American Literature Instead of returning to the “outside” (a term still used in the Arctic today) Allen, in the autumn of 1897, became involved with a now famous Arctic event. His ship and two others became locked in the young ocean ice and all three crews were forced to abandon ship and walk sixty miles to Barrow. Shelter and supplies were minimal in the Eskimo village and living conditions proved to be incredibly grim. Nevertheless for Allen it was a beautiful winter, for he greatly increased his knowledge of how to live and survive in the Arctic by going on several outings with Eskimo friends. One excellent chapter concentrates on the Eskimo culture. Read this slowly, for in this chapter one sees this culture is built upon pragmatism. Archeologists now believe that it may be the oldest continuously intact culture in the world, dating back 8,000 years. It occurred to me as I read this chapter that the extreme selective forces of the Arctic have undoubtedly played a strong role in shaping these hardy, inventive and intelligent people. A Whaler and Trader in the Arctic is not a refined literary work, but Allen’s clear style builds a powerful and realistic picture of the Arctic. Like the cold rough beauty of the alpine regions, the Arctic has its enchant­ ment, and in Allen’s book the immense and incredible Arctic gets due recognition. JOHN CRAIGHEAD GEORGE, Fairbanks, Alaska Two In The Far North. By Margaret E. Murie. Illustrated by Olaus J. Murie. (Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Publishing Company, 1978. 385 pages, $6.95.) In this new edition of what the publishers deservedly call “a northern classic,” Mrs. Murie — known to her hundreds of friends and acquaintances as Mardy— has added three chapters which comprise nearly a third of the book. The first, three times the combined length of the last two, is an account of an expedition up the Sheenjek River in 1956, the second of a brief trip in 1957, her last with Olaus, and the final chapter of a return in 1967, three years after Olaus’s death. In these chapters Mardy presents the Alaska of today, with the theme, running through all three chapters, expressed in the first one. “If man does not destroy himself through his idolatry of the machine, he may learn one day to step gently on his earth.” The expression here as well as the thought is beautiful. And there are numerous passages that will hold the reader in these chapters. Her descrip­ tion, for example, of the loon on Lobo Lake. “To human ears, it seems a cry of measureless loneliness, like a soul alone since time was, condemned to loneliness for all time to come— the cry of the red-throated loon.” Reviews 179 Memorable, too, are such incidents as the passing of a huge herd of caribou, the rumbling roar of their hoofs from the distance sounding like a freight train. But the cast is a bit large in these chapters, the quotations from the diary frequent, with perhaps a few too many accounts of camp meals and of such difficulties as crossing the rough muskeg. At least I found the reading slower than in the original chapters. When I first read the book, soon after its publication in 1962, it held me enthralled. The re-reading was equally entrancing — with many of the images returning like old friends. To readers like me in the lower forty-eight, the material in the new edition may probably not seem as vital as it is to residents of Alaska. But the original three long chapters should involve readers fully. Beginning in 1911, when she was nine, Mardy recreates the excitement of the voyage by steamer from Seattle to Dawson and upriver to Fairbanks. The picture of that frontier town in the second decade of the century is unforgettable. Fairbanks, “cut off from the world, immersed in its own life,” had a live and let live attitude that allowed the “proper” and “improper” lives to intermingle. “We lived in an atmosphere of tolerance and love,” Mardy says. Even more, though, will the reader respond to the love story between the first...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 178-179
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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