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audreyhawkins

audreyhawkins

Watership Down - Richard Adams I've read this book several times, beginning back in high school. Because I read it so young, I don't think I ever appreciated how idiosyncratic it is. I recommended it to a couple of friends recently, which made me read it with new eyes, and I was kind of shocked that I never really noticed its oddities. Anthropomorphic rabbits that experience different dystopic societies — that completely makes sense to me. It seems like a pretty standard mode since, I don't know, Animal Farm? Fine. Extra fine is the fact that the rabbits have their own culture, based on the studies of the naturalist Ronald Lockley. But then, astoundingly, Adams extrapolates that into a language (Lapine - heavy on "th" sounds - do the rabbits' long front teeth make them lisp?) and oral history of mythology, proverbs, stories, and poetry. But the icing on the cake for me, and what makes this book beyond appealing, is that all the rabbits in our intrepid little group are decent British chaps of the type that can be found in British films of the '40s. Once I noticed that, I had couldn't help mentally casting Michael Redgrave as Hazel and Leslie Howard as Fiver (Robert Donat is wily Blackberry, but who would play Bigwig?). A little digging on Wikipedia tells me that Adams improvised the rabbits' adventures to amuse his girls on a long car trip and drew on his own experiences in WWII, so it all makes sense. To me, its eccentricity only adds to Adams' achievement. I like it all the better for it. All in all, a five star book without a doubt. If you can't get enough, you can even visit Watership Down online here!