Watership Down at 50

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Watership Down at 50

Postby DavidTate on Monday, 04 February 2013, 7:12 pm

Me, not the book.

Richard Adams's Watership Down was one of my absolute favorite novels when I was in my teens and twenties. I had not dared to re-read it since then, for fear that I would discover that my earlier self was showing bad taste. I finally gave in, and have been listening to an excellent audiobook adaptation. (I'll give details in a follow-on when I have more time.) Suffice it to say that I think my young self showed judgment and discrimination beyond his years; it's still a superb book. I'll post a follow-on when I've finished listening to it.

In the meantime, how do you all feel about this book?
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Re: Watership Down at 50

Postby DavidTate on Thursday, 08 August 2013, 12:08 am

I promised a follow-up when I'd finished the book, and then never got around to it. Mea culpa. Suffice it to say that the book has aged better than I have, and is still as fresh and original and immersive as when I first read it in 1976 or so. I can think of no other animal fantasy that is neither saccharine sentiment nor blow-to-the-head allegory, nor one that combines so well the elements of fable and realism.

Truly a classic.
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Re: Watership Down at 50

Postby owlcroft on Thursday, 08 August 2013, 12:52 pm

I can think of no other animal fantasy that is neither saccharine sentiment nor blow-to-the-head allegory, nor one that combines so well the elements of fable and realism.

Oh, dear. The Wind in the Willows blows not for you, then?

"One does not argue about The Wind in the Willows. The young man gives it to the girl with whom he is in love, and, if she does not like it, asks her to return his letters. The older man tries it on his nephew, and alters his will accordingly. The book is a test of character. We can't criticize it, because it is criticizing us. But I must give you one word of warning. When you sit down to it, don't be so ridiculous as to suppose that you are sitting in judgment on my taste, or on the art of Kenneth Grahame. You are merely sitting in judgment on yourself. You may be worthy: I don't know. But it is you who are on trial."

--A. A. Milne

Which is not to subtract one whit from the immense value of Watership Down, which I gladly concede.
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Re: Watership Down at 50

Postby DavidTate on Thursday, 08 August 2013, 5:05 pm

owlcroft wrote:Oh, dear. The Wind in the Willows blows not for you, then?

Shockingly, I haven't actually read TWitW. I intend to remedy that... but not today. Nor tomorrow, alas.

My untutored understanding of TWitW didn't lead me to expect it to have much on the 'realism' side of the ledger. Am I wrong about that?
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Re: Watership Down at 50

Postby owlcroft on Monday, 12 August 2013, 6:00 pm

That depends on how one defines "realism". No animal fantasy in which the animals are not very obviously humans in fur coats can be very "realistic", but what makes them endure 9those that do) is what one might call their emotional--or even "spiritual"--realism: they are real in the nature of personality and emotion.
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Re: Watership Down at 50

Postby mahisehar on Saturday, 12 October 2013, 3:23 am

For better or worse, I think the revelation at the end of book three makes not so much a cliff-hanger, as a catharsis. That may be making a virtue of necessity, but it is certainly not as unsatisfactory a place to stop as (say) Patrick O'Brian left us with. For small favors, we give thanks...
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