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Watership Down: A Novel Paperback – November 1, 2005
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"Spellbinding...Marvelous...A taut tale of suspense, hot pursuit and derring-do."
-- Chicago Tribune
"A classic...A great book."
-- Los Angeles Times
"Quite marvelous...A powerful new vision of the great chain of being."
-- The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Winner of the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Award for Children's Literature, Richard Adams was a British novelist best known for Watership Down, Shardik, and The Plague Dogs.
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The story of Watership Down, edited originally in 1972, starts when the rabbit Fiver begins to have visions showing a great catastrophe destroying his colony. “The field is full of blood”, he says. This trope is based on Cassandra’s myth, and much like the Greek prophetess, the little bunny’s visions are ignored by the leaders and only a small group decides to escape in search of a better place.
When my girlfriend asks her English friends about Watership Down their expression shows love and fear at the same time. Love because the animal characters actions and personalities are built in a very endearing way by the author. Fear because the little furry creature’s deaths are many and bloody. Like all good children’s literature, Watership Down does not insult the young reader’s intelligence with simplified messages.
The bunnies have anthropomorphic thoughts and can speak, but the book was built around real rabbit’s behavior, their organization, their ways of feeding, etc. It’s interesting how the author imagined how it would be a society of hunted creatures, instead of hunters like us. They are in a constant state of fear, always alert to any weird sound or noise.
Adams also created a sort bunny speak, called “Lapine”, that even without the depth of other literary created languages like those made by Tolkien, has consistent prefixes and endings to convey and exotic but realistic tone. The rabbits also have a rich mythology with several stories intertwined.
There is the solar god Fritz, the black rabbit Inlé (bringer of death), the primordial rabbit El-ahraiah and his many tales deceiving dogs or stealthily attacking gardens. The characters are very well constructed. Fiver is the prophet flirting with madness, Hazel the leader, Bigwig the warrior, Blackberry is pretty much the scientist, Dandelion is the bard, and entertains his friend with his tales. The book has a curious flavor, like a Greek tragedy or a Shakespearean epic only with bunnies.
One of the best books I have ever read. The ambience makes the reader really imagine how life is a few centimeters from the ground and think about how frail life is. And also about the number of stories that are hidden everywhere.
This copy is simply gorgeous and is an ABSOLUTE MUST for the collector. The dust jacket artwork is hauntingly lovely and has gold foil detailing that is echoed on the front cover. The end papers are a beautiful robin's egg blue, which is a nice complement to the cover art. The publisher really did this book justice with all of these thoughtful details.
But what really sets this edition apart is the illustrations. Simply put, they are stunning. There are around 20 or so full-color illustrations throughout, each of them beautifully capturing a scene from the book. Some of the illustrations spread across 2 pages, and one of them was also used as the dust jacket cover art. The illustrations have been printed on glossy pages, which showcases this artwork to full effect.
I was a little surprised to find the font was a bit larger than I'm used to, but it's by no means an issue. The book dimensions are 9.5"x7.5", so the slightly larger font actually makes sense, as it gives the impression that this edition is meant to be read aloud and shared, which I certainly intend to do with my young son.
The book was very well protected during shipping, and I was so pleased to receive this book in PERFECT condition from the seller.
The basic ideals of a free society are found in this book. This great assumption that rabbits/people are created by a divine creator and guided by said creator and given the parameters of free will; and that within those parameters we choose virtuous or ignoble paths for ourselves is implicit and pervasive throughout.
Every young adult should be required to read this book in the compulsory school system, if you want them to understand some basic principals of western, free civilizations, from whence spring the greatest innovations, aspirations, and hopes of mankind. If you read this story and don't feel for these rabbits as if they were people you knew, well then you have surely missed something.
It is a great story of hope, life, faith, inner strength and deep convictions. Adams did his research well to show an accurate portrait of the habits of rabbits, but also captured the nature of man equally well. This book has many rich layers of meaning, and the descriptions of the countryside are vivid. This is a great book also for anyone aspiring to write quality fiction.