Synopses & Reviews
Thomas, the child-protagonist of The Issa Valley
, is subject to both the contradictions of nature in this severe northern setting and sometimes enchanting, sometimes brutal timbre of village life. There are the deep pine and spruce forests, the grouse and the deer, and the hunter's gun. There is Magdalena, the beautiful mistress of the village priest, whose suicide unleashes her ghost to haunt the parish. There are also the loving grandparents with whom Thomas lives, who provide a balance of the not-quite-Dostoevskian devils that visit the villagers. In the end, Thomas is severed from his childhood and the Issa River, and leaves prepared for adventures beyond his valley. Poetic and richly imagined, The Issa Valley
is a masterful work of fiction from one of our greatest living poets.
Thomas, the child-protagonist of The Issa Valley (first published in English in 1981), inhabits, as did the author, a world to which Christianity came late; a time when nature still held forth the possibility of both ecstasy and horror. Thomas is subject to both the contradictions of nature in this severe Lithuanian setting and the sometimes enchanting, sometimes brutal timbre of village life. In the end, Thomas is severed from his childhood and the Issa River, and leaves, prepared for adventures beyond his valley.
About the Author
is the winner of the 1978 Neustadt International Prize in Literature and the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature. Since 1962 he has been a professor, now emeritus, of Slavic languages and literatures at the University of California, Berkeley. His most recent publications are Facing the River
, Striving Towards Being: The Letters of Thomas Merton and Czeslaw Milosz
, and Road-side Dog
. He lives in Berkeley, California, and Krakow, Poland.