Who Has Seen the Wind


338 pages
ISBN 0-7710-6078-5
DDC C813'.54




Illustrations by William Kurelek
Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is a professor of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University, an associate fellow of the Simone de Beauvoir
Institute, and author of Margaret Laurence: The Long Journey Home.


Now the truth is out. The common version of Mitchell’s classic novel
about growing up in small-town Saskatchewan, a version beloved by two
generations of Canadians, had been abridged. The original edition,
published in 1947 in the United States, had some seven thousand words
(or 30 pages) cut by an editor who thought it would make it more
commercially viable. The first Canadian edition, published later that
year, restored the original text but all subsequent editions, totalling
some half-million copies, have used the shortened American version.

This new edition restores the full text and partners it with
magnificent illustrations painted by William Kurelek shortly before his
death in 1976. Kurelek grew up on farms in Alberta and Manitoba. His 8
full-color paintings and 32 black-and-white drawings form a perfect
complement to the text, evoking the landscape of Mitchell’s memorable
line: “Here was the least common denominator of nature, the skeleton
requirements simply of land and sky—Saskatchewan prairie.”

The novel, a staple of Canadian literature on both high school and
university courses, deals with a young boy, his family, and his
community. It catches the tenderness, the beauty, and the humor along
with the cruelty and horror of small towns everywhere.

Mitchell has written many fine novels since 1947, but his first remains
one of his best. The restored text shows us the full range of his
sensitive, supple prose.


Mitchell, W.O., “Who Has Seen the Wind,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 15, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/12094.