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Watership Down A Novel Paperback – January 1, 1975
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Richard Adams was absolutely a genius relaying this rabbits tale anthropomorphically yet never make us forget that this is a tale about rabbits whose primeval instincts were to survive and propagate itself.
This was the kind of adolescent fiction that we have become accustomed to today - insightful, entertaining, and challenging. But it was written before the modern adolescent fiction explosion, and as such, I think it has largely been missed and overlooked (unless it is taught in the classroom, which it is in many high schools).
With Richard Adam's death in 2016, the novel has again gained more public notice. If you haven't read this, I encourage you to grab it and read it. It is one of those stories that I read many, many years ago for the first time and I still remember how it gripped my imagination and impacted my heart. There are a lot of good stories out there. This isn't one of them - this is one of the great ones.