Gone Indian


158 pages
ISBN 0-919441-00-9





Reviewed by Susan Patrick

Susan Patrick is a librarian at Ryerson Polytechnical University.


This novel, originally published in 1973, is the third part of the “Out West” trilogy of Robert Kroetsch, winner of the Governor-General’s Medal for The Studhorse Man. Gone Indian is concerned with the recounting of a romantic search for truth by perpetual graduate student Jeremy Sadness, juxtaposed with a rational interpretation of his adventures by his advising professor. Sadness flies from the State University of New York to Edmonton, ostensibly for a job interview; instead, through a mistaken exchange of similar suitcases, he becomes drawn into the winter carnival rituals of an Albertan small town. The constant shift in point of view from student to professor serves to distance us from the main character, whose self-centred verbal ramblings about his sexual and academic failures and imagined triumphs would otherwise become tiresome, if we were expected to take them seriously. It is easier to sympathize with the professor, who is not at all impressed by his student.

This modern-day Odyssey is an intriguing blend of social satire and mythic patterns. The hero’s quest takes him through the winning of a marathon snow-shoe race, the losing of a bar-room brawl, the judging of a small town beauty contest, and a party spent lying in a coffin. The writing has a poetic quality, especially in the second half of the book, which includes long sections of dream-like descriptions of nature and animals from Indian legends. The humourous surface overlies a serious novel, and one that is important for Canadian literature collections.


Kroetsch, Robert, “Gone Indian,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38455.