Dreamer Awakes, The

The Dreamer Awakes by Alice Kane. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 1995. ISBN 1-55111-047-4, 185, $24.95 Cdn., $19.95 U.S. (also available in HC)

Canadian tellers will already be familiar with The Dreamer Awakes, but I include this review for the sake of subscribers in other countries. Robert Bringhurst's introduction to the volume is a marvellous introduction to Alice Kane, the beloved elder of Canadian storytelling, and to her favourite type of tale - the wondertale. He captures Alice's grace and quiet humour, and he enlivens the reader's understanding of the wondertale as vision quest, as interaction with the otherworld, the wild. The seventeen wondertales which comprise this book here transcribed from tapes of oral performances by Alice Kane. They are stories of Alice's native Ireland, of course, but also of Russia, Japan, China, India, and elsewhere. I hear Alice's voice in all of these stories, all the more so because I have heard her tell many of them through the years. But her voice comes through most plainly in the epilogue in which she first questions what can be done to help the world, and then realizes the answer. The talisman which would change everything, she says, is myth, the body of wisdom, tale, song and sayings of those who went before us. "If we have myth," she concludes, "we have our shining talisman... we carry, each one of us, a sword of power and a mother's blessing."

How often have I heard Alice speak the following words:
Who does not remember the old tales?
Fingers of firelight on the Wall, lances of sleet on the shutter.
Whoever does not remember the old tales
Has lost the key that opens the door of life.

If you have not met Alice before, let this book be an introduction. Then seek out her recording of of Irish tales available from the Storytellers of Canada’s Storysave Project and with the book and the sound of her voice, you will share in the art of one of Canada's national treasures.

Broadview Press, PO Box 1243, Peterborough, ON
Canada K9J 7H5 e-mail: 75322.44@COMPUSERVE. COM

The Second Story Review, Vol 3, No. 2, June 1998
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