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Author Name:    HOUSTON, James

Title:   White Dawn. Signed

Publisher:    Harcourt Brace Janovich, Inc., New York, 1971, 

Seller ID:   80463

HOUSTON, James. The White Dawn [An Eskimo Saga]. NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. (1971). pp [6] vii-viii [4] 3-275 [3]. 8vo, blue cloth From dust jacket: This exciting, beautiful, and haunting novel starts with several brief extracts from a New England whaling ship's log. They establish that, ona spring day in 1897, several men in a small boat are missing and presumed lost in the fog-enshrouded, icy, white-rimmed arctic sea. After that prolo gue, the narration shifts and the story opens. There is tremendous excitement when three strangers, unlike any men the Eskimos have ever seen, are brought back to the camp. The strangers, frozen, starved, and very near death,are nursed back to health through skills long known, passed down from one Eskimo generation to the next. Avinga, the narrator of this tale, relates the delighted curiosity of his people as the three strangers enter the life of the community , and tells how communication without a common language isaccomplished, how the strikingly different personalities of each of the ne wcomers emerges, and how each adapts to a new way of living. Gradually, as the brief arctic spring and summer pass, the strangers are fully accepted, especially by the young girls, who are excited by them and eager to sleep with them. Liasons form and, with the adventure and hazards of the hunt - which provides not only food, but also clothing and implements equally essential to survival - a seemingly happy, vibrant existence evolves. But, durinnthe long, cruel arctic winter, with time weighing heavily - especially for the New Englanders - mischief arrises, followed by misunderstandings and d istrust. Then lust, greed, and pride become driving forces. Even love cannot prevail against them, although it transcends their fury. the aftermath isviolent, shocking, and disturbingly meaningful, and the conclusion intense ly moving. The depth and impact of this novel become cogently evident in the reading. In strong, spare prose the Eskimos' lifestyle is totally and handsomely evoked, its rich detail subtly interwoven with the dramatic storyline. The Eskimo world, isolated and self-contained, had come into a harmonious balance between nature and man. In a hundred subtle ways, life was glorified, respected, celebrated: death was faced with dignity and understanding. Until the arrival of the whalers, this glorious way of life had been untouched by "civilization" from the south. Now it is all but gone. Few white men know the Eskimos and their culture as imtimately as James Houston. None has written of them more effectively. this outstanding narrative, blending adventure and romance with authenticity and profound meaning makes a singular contribution to our literature. Edges of covers discoloured, otherwise vg.; signed by author w/out inscription, dj. 25.00


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