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I don t give a shit what Richard Adams says about his book because it simply isn t true According to him, in the preface of my edition, this is just a story about rabbits Its intended purpose was to entertain his children in the car, that s fair enough, but he also says there is no intentional allegorical meaning whatsoever I find this hard to believe The allegories in here are rich and meaningful They don t just allude to simple problems They re complex and purposeful So if he didn t intend them, then his unconscious certainly did I can t believe the literary merit of this work is entirely accidentalAnimals don t behave like men, he said If they have to fight, they fight and if they have to kill they kill But they don t sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures lives and hurting them They have dignity and animalityThis has a surprising amount of depth The story is a comment on the brutal nature of man, and his careless attitude towards nature it is a suggestion that he kills for the sake of killing, rather than out of a need for survival it is a statement that man is not in touch with nature like other animals, but in spite of this he is redeemable and capable of the opposite as much as the apparent Indeed, this can be seen with the little girl who saves Hazel, the Rabbit s chief, at the end of the novel So it s a bitthan a basic children s fable This is one of those rare, rare, books that can be read by anyone regardless of age and taste in novels it really is a wonderful story that has the potential to be enjoyed by all Indeed, there is a reason why very few people have not heard of Watership Down, and it s not because this is just a tale of rabbits attempting to find a new home and survive That is the crux of the plot, but not the limits of the scope of the novel It has the appearance of a children s novel in that it is an exciting adventure about rabbits, but for an adult it has greater depth Moreover, the novel questions the artificial life that captive animals must endure and demonstrates that they should be at one with their true nature like the rabbits of this novel This, for me, is a rather deep observation Humans are a species that superimpose their ways on all other forms of life If the animals don t adapt, then they die I m not going to go into the murky realms of morality, but whatever you think about the treatment of animals, this is a truism Humans destroy nature as they destroy most things I m sounding like a little bit of a misanthrope but, again, it s trueMen will never rest till they ve spoiled the earth and destroyed the animals Regardless of what Richard Adams thinks his book is an allegory for many things He may not have intended this, but the finished product clearly transcends his motives it has become a real work of literature One need only look at half the works in the literary cannon to see that the interpretations of these works rarely correspond with the author s intent, and sometimes even directly oppose them Many critics even say the author isn t important and is just a mere vessel for the work If this is true, then one needn t look any further than the wonderful tale of Watership Down for conformation This is a great book Postscript I found this gorgeous illustrated edition in Waterstones that I just had to buy..I mean, just look at it. I read this book an age ago Maybe 40 years ago the first time.Lots of authors have written animal stories but they tend to be cute little tales where the level of anthropomorphism is such that the rabbits or whatever are practically, or literally, wearing waistcoats and top hats We only need to look to Wind in the Willows or Beatrix Potter for examples.Obviously some level of making the animals human is required I suspect a rabbit s true inner monologue would be rather dull even if it could be put into words But what Richard Adams achieved was something that kept his rabbits much closer to the real creatures, from the details of their living quarters to the unvarnished truth that rabbits eat their own crap When Adams rabbits come into contact with humans we get a true sense of incomprehension, of struggling to make sense of their activities and technology within the framework of a very different world view.Watership Down is a fat book containing a lot of story The warren has a history The rabbits as a species have a history, stored in an oral tradition of stories about their gods and heroes Disaster visits our hero, the rabbit Hazel, who is neither the quickest, strongest, bravest or cleverest of his fellows, and with a mixed band he sets out across Watership Down on a quest.Adams gives each of the rabbits a unique and interesting character from which much of the strength of this novel springs The dynamics in the group, the strengthening friendships, the teamwork used in overcoming challenges is all fascinating and even though the rabbits keep doing deeply rabbitty things, it is hard not to think of them as people that you like and care about There are themes of duty, fate, friendship and love All human life is here On four furry feet.There is high drama, combat, even war This book will make chills run down your spine as one rabbit defends a run from another Rabbits Seriously, think Gandalf stepping out into the balrog s path and declaring You shall not pass or Boromir standing alone against an orc horde There is in one fight scene a line that has its place high on the list of the best quotes of this sort from any book or film I know Delivered by a rabbit called Bigwig It sounds silly now, but when you read it you won t think so.It would take a colder man than me not to cry at the end of this novel, and possibly several places in between.I finally got around to reviewing this book despite it being so long since I last read it because Richard Adams died recently, aged 96, and it was best way I could think to commemorate him.This book is about rabbits but it is stuffed with beauty, fear, passion, and excitement, and it taught me a lot about life I commend it to your attention.Join my 3 emails a year newsletter prizes. Slowly watching the new Netflix show Don t want to cry too much at once Re read on audio is great Still truly wonderful sad OMG I can t believe it has taken me all of these years to read this book It was such a wonderful book There were some sad things, but I was able to get through it I loved getting lost in this world of rabbits, where they talked of their fears, of things they needed to get done, the great camaraderie between each and every one of them They were all so brave I loved them all I had a soft spot mostly for Hazel, Fiver, and Bigwig I even loved Kehaar They were all so wonderful and such little hero s Even though the rabbits where going through all of these hardships I felt like I was taken back in time to a time of childhood and great things I guess it s hard to explain, but I m sure some of you know what I m talking about You didn t have to read this as a child to get that feeling I would recommend this book to anyone that hasn t read it yet It will take you away to another world for a little bit of your life and it s worth it PS The movie is free to watch on Youtube I m not sure if I would let small children read or watch this movie since it s rather gory and sad things Although, it s all real life It s up to you as a parent with small children FYI I was allowed to watch anything at a very young age so it s hard for me to say That ending is so bittersweet Happy Reading Mel MY BLOG Melissa Martin s Reading List El ahrairah, your people cannot rule the world, for I will not have it so All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed When Fiver, a seer, is overcome with a vivid dream of mass destruction He tries to convince the rabbits in charge of the validity of his vision They are dismissive, but one rabbit named Hazel does believe him They convince nine other bucks to leave the warren with them Driven by fear and curiosity they begin an odyssey that if Homer had been fortunate enough to hear about, would have given him another epic story to tell for a fewcopper coins in the town square Hazel finds out he is a natural leader and through courage, luck, and Macguveresque skills manages to bring his troop through the thickets of a new and dangerous world They meet other warrens of rabbits with society aberrations that made them unpalatable for amalgamation Given the way that Richard Adams portrayed these rigid social constructs I came away with the feeling that he was somewhat anti government He seemed to be advocating that a looser structure of co existence will lead to happier rabbits people Speaking of that, even though these rabbits did take on some human characteristics, I never really thought of them as people I was convinced I was reading a book about rabbits not rabbits with human faces That to me is a major achievement, and at the same time in the early pages made me feel like I was reading a book at a reading level below my comfort zone Rabbits are relatively simple animals and Adams adhered to that principle for most of the book Cleverness was a revered trait among warren colonies and is reflected in their stories of past accomplishments by legendary rabbits These stories passed down orally from generation to generation provided a collective source of cunning skills that are applied to situations beyond the natural experiences of our erstwhile heroes It doesn t take long for the all male colony to realize that if they want kittens They must have DOES They were in such a hurry to escape the warren that they forgot to bring the mystical other half necessary for reproduction They came to the same conclusion that tribal units have come to for thousands of years If they don t have something they need than they need to liberate it from someone else The Efrafa warren is governed by General Woundwart He is a brutal, militaristic leader who rules his burrow with an iron fist The Efrafa happen to have a plethora of DOES and Hazel and his band of intrepid bunnies believe they are clever enough, with the help of some unusual allies, to coax away enough DOES to insure the survival of their fledgling society This sets up one of the most pulse pounding showdowns I ve read in a long time Displaying the courage of the defenders of the Alamo and the steadfastness of the Spartans at the battle of Thermopylae I found myself glowing with the pride of a participant, white knuckles and all, as the Watership Down rabbits defend their home The thing about this book is that you have to hang in there I have started and stopped this book a handful of times, but several reviews on goodreads convinced me I was giving up on the book too soon At about page 70 I could feel my eyes looking over with longing at the stack of books waiting in the wings As the pages stacked up I started to care about this band of brothers I wish that I had read it in time to have shared it with my kids There is much to be discussed especially in regards to how societies are structured, about courage, about friendship, about thinking outside the box, and about the importance of how we conduct ourselves within our own warren township If you have kids young enough, read it to them It will heighten the experience for you and them I ve already got this logged as a book to read to my grandchildrensome dayin the distant futureafter my kids graduate collegeget great jobsmeet their soulmatesand have kids that love to curl up in their grandfather s lap for a tale that may help shape the people they become RIP Richard Adams May 9th, 1920 December 24th, 2016If you wish to seeof my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at I started this book about 2 months ago, got through the first 10 pages or so and I was not interested in continuing I put it down In all honesty, it seemed like it was going to be too babyish for me I mean come on, bunnies though Seriously About a week ago I got to a point where I didn t have anything else to read so there I was, staring pensively at my obese bookshelf, thinking about reading Lord of the Rings for the 12th time, when I noticed Watership Down poking its cute little bunny face out at me I figured, hey, it s almost Easter, so what the heck, I might as well try it again So I picked Watership Down back up with the intent of giving it just a fewpages Much to my surprise, I was hooked image error Ok, so it s a book about a bunch of rabbits traveling through a small stretch of English countryside As such, it doesn t seem like something that would appeal to anyone but a preteen But the fact of the matter is this is a great story, full of rich characters, a deep if occasionally erroneous understanding of things lapine, and it can reach moments of depth and profundity that the movie of the same title does not even begin to hint at I was actually introduced to this book in one of the best ways I can imagine a friend recorded the entire book on tape, and for a couple months I played the tapes of her reading a chapter or two just before I fell asleep each night My slow exposure to the book under ideal circumstances may have influenced my perceptions, but I can say on each subsequent rereading of the book I ve come to appreciate itYou can read the book just for the story apparently, the author wrote the book from stories he would tell his children, and it still can easily serve that purpose But the richness of his characters lead to many interesting analogies to human life For instance, from Hazel you can learn profound things about leadership Throughout the book you feel that Hazel is the natural born leader of his group of rabbits, but Richard Adams was very careful to develop this impression through character features rather than power relations The contrast is clearly intentional since the other leaders of the book achieve leadership status through very different means Many people think the book takes a strong stance against a particular kind of authoritarian rule, but it is important to recognize the book gives this impression not through structured diatribe or through argument, but rather it evolves out of character considerations, and out of the story itself This means that the result is farcomplex than a simple argument For instance, although General Woundwort may be seen as the main enemy that Hazel has to deal with, and the authoritarian rabbit is portrayed rather negatively at times, Adams quite intentionally adds some details that make him admirable to the other rabbits, even to the very end A diatribe would not be so complex Fiver is another great character He adds an element of magic to the story, and it allows Adams to link the rabbits he describes to a mythical world that enters into the story quite frequently One can almost see Fiver as a manifestation of imagination in this world Big wig is another likable character, and the story of this rabbits experience in Efrafa is one of the highlights of the story Besides the characters, the descriptions of England are also quite acute You can actually track the course of the rabbits on maps, since Adams was careful to describe real places and things That attention to detail is often missed in reviews of this book Finally, the thing that brings all these features together and makes the bookthan a mere story, or an account of human characters, or a diatribe against fascism, is the fact that Adams is quite conscious of the fact that he is telling the story from the perspective of rabbits The challenges they face are rabbit sized, the ideas about the external world are rabbitlike, the philosophical insights seem rabbitized, and Adams brings many of our anthropomorphized ideas of rabbits together with the reality of rabbits in a surprisingly coherent fashion I suppose the book can be seen as a cultural study of an imaginatively rich but realistic rabbit world I realize as I write this review that many other readers may not feel the same way about the book as I do It does have some shortcomings For instance, female characters only make a few appearances in the book, although I think Adams does show some sensitivity in their depictions But, even with the limitations, I would recommend the book to anyone who likes a good story and who is willing to think deeply about a children s story. Most reviews I write just for the hell of it, for my own records and if some people like them I am just happy as a lark For Watership Down however, I am just a little bitambitious I would like to convince people who feel averse to reading a novel for children about rabbits to drop their preconception and give this book a chance This is not a book about cute little bunnies running around eating carrots and being adorable 24 7 This is one of the most badass books I have ever read, and I have read books by Joe Abercrombie and George R.R Martin More importantly this is simply one of the all time great reads in my humble estimation of course that will stay with the readers for the rest of their days Why, I have a memory like a sieve and I still remember it after all these years OK, I have just reread it so that helps Badass rabbits Credit LadyFiszi at Deviant Art It all starts with a psychic bunny stop laughing back there called Fiver who has a vague premonition of impending death and destruction coming to his warren He convinces his best friend Hazel and a few other rabbits to leave the warren for a safer place to live their attempt to start a total evacuation is quickly nixed by the Chief Rabbit The first half of the book tells the story of the rabbit motley crew s or m tley cr e if you prefer difficult journey from their warren to find a safe location to start a new warren The second half is about their defence of their new warren against an older bigger warren ruled by a despotic dictator called Woundwort who is something of a monstrous mutant mega rabbit Interspersed between the chapters are charming and wonderful folk tales about the adventures of a legendary hero called El ahrairah.Plot, world building and characterisation are brilliantly balanced in this book Even at almost 500 pages there is never a dull moment Those looking for action adventures should really check out this book There are hair raising chase scenes, espionage scenes, interspecies alliances, and a bloody fight scene that should be read with Survivor s Eye of the Tiger playing in the background.Again credit LadyFisziOn the characterisation side it is worth noting that the rabbits in this book are not anthropomorphized animals, they do not wear clothes, drive cars, watch TV etc Yet there is also much humanity in their rabbitry, they can be compassionate, loving, kind, cruel, egotistical, melancholy etc These humans traits are believably portrayed as rabbit traits through the incredible talent of Richard Adams The prose is absolutely beautiful with wonderful metaphors like an indestructible flood of rabbitry I can pick a great passage out of almost every page Here is one awe inspiring example Many human beings say that they enjoy the winter, but what they really enjoy is feeling proof against it For them there is no winter food problem They have fires and warm clothes The winter cannot hurt them and therefore increases their sense of cleverness and security For birds and animals, as for poor men, winter is another matter. To further distinguish rabbits from other species a little neologism is employed throughout the book, most of the words can be understood from the context they are used, if you want some extra help with these you can check out this LapineGlossary You can even gloss over them without missing a beat of the book.Reading this book is a little like taking a magic potion and transforming into a wee rabbit I am not normally all that interested in cute animals but after reading this book I really developed a huge respect for these little guys, the odds are really stacked against them yet they manage to survive and even thrive Even though the book was written primarily for children, it is certainly sophisticated enough to be enjoyed by adults I certainly prefer it to all the YA books I have read.Definitely worthstars than the Goodreads system can accommodate.Briiiight eeeyes buuurning like fireNotes I don t remember much about the 1978 animated film, I could not have liked it very much otherwise I would at least remember liking it terrible sentence I know I thought the artwork and animation were a bit crude, though Whether the film captures the spirit of the book I could not tell you, but when Channel 5 in the UK screened the film on Easter Sunday 2016, some viewers were so outraged at the violence they tweeted their complaints and demanded the responsible programmers to be fired Sounds like a recommendation to me click to embiggen Update Apr, 28, 2016 BBC and Netflix have teamed up to make a new animated series of Watership Down Update Dec 30, 2016 Richard Adams died just a few days ago, and I am so grateful to him for this book which is one of my all time favorites R.I.P Richard Adams. *Free Pdf ↝ Watership Down ↲ Librarian S Note See Alternate Cover Edition Of ISBNHereSet In England S Downs, A Once Idyllic Rural Landscape, This Stirring Tale Of Adventure, Courage And Survival Follows A Band Of Very Special Creatures On Their Flight From The Intrusion Of Man And The Certain Destruction Of Their Home Led By A Stouthearted Pair Of Friends, They Journey Forth From Their Native Sandleford Warren Through The Harrowing Trials Posed By Predators And Adversaries, To A Mysterious Promised Land And A Perfect Society In memory of Richard Adams 1920 2016 Some books have an amazingly unexplainable ability to transcend the purpose of their creation and take a leap into being an instant timeless classicAll the world will be your enemy, Prince of a Thousand enemies And when they catch you, they will kill you But first they must catch you digger, listener, runner, Prince with the swift warning Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyedWatership Down began as an impromptu entertainment for Adams two young daughters on long car trips an adventure of a migrating bunch of somewhat anthropomorphic but yet very rabbit like rabbits It is a story full of palpable love for English countryside, full of rabbity allegories of the variations of human societies and ideologies that nevertheless do not overshadow the simple but fascinating impact of the story of survival against all odds, rooted in friendship, bravery, loyalty, courage, quick thinking and learning, ability to see and embrace the new while relying on the ages tested old, and perseverance despite the unfavorable oddsRabbits live close to death and when death comes closer than usual, thinking about survival leaves little room for anything elseI first read the story of Hazel, Bigwig co when I was twelve, and read it again and again many times since, loving itandwith each re read, appreciatingandeach time how its seeming simplicity is actually made of layers of complexity.Survival is the big theme, naturally but another one is the coexistence between the old ways and the new ways, the balance between the natural and the unnatural , innate and learned It s not just the rabbit society that is plagued by these choices, of course On a superficial read, it would appear that Adams favors the former our rabbits are looking for a way to lead the normal natural rabbit life that sharply contrasts with the decadent Cowslip s warren and militaristic Efrafa But on the other hand, it s precisely the openness to the new things and experiences that allows Hazel s bunch to survive the raft and the boat, the digging of burrows, the interspecies alliances but they still hold on firmly to their essential rabbitness It s the harmony that Adams is looking for, and I love it.Adams succeeded in creating such vivid and distinct personalities for all of the rabbits in the story, making them so human like and yet unmistakably animal at the same time Cute fluffy bunnies they are not, however they are tenacious survivalists full of life force and determination to survive despite their status as prey for the Thousand , the many carnivorous predators from cats to hawks to foxes to humans They are driven by the need to live and multiply and thrive and when allowed to do so, they are fearsome indeed just think of how rabbits took over Australia, for example In Adams rendition, they are and aren t like us, and it s both their similarities and differences from what we think as human that makes the story unforgettableAnimals don t behave like men, he said If they have to fight, they fight and if they have to kill they kill But they don t sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures lives and hurting them They have dignity and animalityEach rabbit has a distinct voice and personality without being people they are nevertheless persons but it s the three that stand out to me Hazel, Bigwig and Woundwort.Hazel, the mastermind of the rabbit adventures, is a natural leader He is not the fastest, the smartest or the strongest but he has the understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the ragtag bunch he leads He genuinely cares, and his charisma and leading by example are quick to win the loyalty of others The parallels between Hazel and the legendary rabbit folklore hero, El ahrairah, the Prince of a Thousand enemies, are not surprising, and the final scene of the book, lovely but quietly gut wrenching, comes as no surpriseYou needn t worry about them, said his companion They ll be all right and thousands like them If you ll come along, I ll show you what I mean He reached the top of the bank in a single, powerful leap Hazel followed and together they slipped away, running easily down through the wood, where the first primroses were beginning to bloomHis opposite is the eventual villain of the book, General Woundwort, the tyrant leader of an isolated militaristic rabbit warren, a ruler with an iron fist, whose forceful personality is supplemented by ferociously merciless teeth and claws Unlike Hazel, he leads by force and coercion but props to Adams for not making him neatly fit into a black and white good vs bad model as his amazing ability to at least temporarily make rabbits, perpetual prey, into predators was a source of almost legendary fame And yet Woundwort s vision breaks down because, grand as it may be, it s still just tunnel visionAt that moment, in the sunset on Watership Down, there was offered to General Woundwort the opportunity to show whether he was really the leader of vision and genius which he believed himself to be, or whether he was nothan a tyrant with the courage and cunning of a pirate For one beat of his pulse the lame rabbit s idea shone clearly before him He grasped it and realized what it meant The next, he had pushed it away from himAnd bridging the gap between Hazel and Woundwort is my hero, Bigwig Big, strong and experienced and therefore bound to succeed almost anywhere in the rabbit society , he grows from a careless and a bit bullyish character to one strongly loyal and just, learning to rely on brains over brawn and yet with enough ferocity and determination to be an unstoppable force when combined with Hazel s leadership The warren of Watership Down would have been doomed without Bigwig s boundless daring loyal courage, without his resolute determination and willingness for self sacrifice for the others a trait he would, of course, have not developed if not for the friends he made on the night of the escape from the doomed old warren in the search of Watership Down promised by Fiver Hazel learns to see the strengths and weaknesses in others Bigwig learns to see them in himself.My strong and loyal rabbit hero, your words at what you thought may have been your last minutes never cease to make me happily grinMy Chief Rabbit has told me to stay and defend this run, and until he says otherwise, I shall stay hereThis book is wonderful, fantastic, and has definitely earned itself a spot on the strategically placed bookshelf in my future hypothetical daughter s room where it will serve the purpose of helping to bring her into the wonderful world of stories and help her see the world for the amazing place it is And meanwhile, somewhere in the wild, rabbits would quietly go on with their rabbit livesUnderground, the story continued I remember when Watership Down was first published in 1972 It was a novel by an unknown English author, Richard Adams All of a sudden the book Watership Down was absolutely everywhere and people were reading it on buses, trains, park benches all over the place It captured everybody s imagination Six years later the animated film came out, and it all happened all over again If, glancing at the cover, you asked any of those readersIs this a book about rabbitsthe answer would be a hesitant yes Yet if you then asked,So is it a children s bookthe answer would be a firmNoIt includes explicit details about warrens being gassed, rabbits snagged in barbed wire, about torture under a totalitarian regime, and descriptions of savage and bloody conflict.From the first paragraph onwards, the style of writing indicates its focus group The prose is too rich and complex for children the concerns those of adults There is breathtaking lyrical description in Watership Down Richard Adams shows a detailed knowledge of the natural world in which the rabbits live, specifically the English countryside Watership Down is an actual hill in Hampshire, near the village of Kingsclere, just a few miles away from the area in Berkshire where Richard Adams grew up The locations are geographically accurate, even to the little maps which are included Growing up in a rural area in the 1920 s, Richard Adams had the sort of country childhood which no longer exists Much of his time was spent alone, and this fired his imagination and his passion for make believe, based on his direct experience of nature.Facts about little known wild plants and flowers and their growing seasons, the creatures of the countryside, their habits, behaviour and terrain, are all interwoven in the narrative so that the reader absorbs this alongside the story, and becomes immersed in the English landscape It is a rich and satisfying experience the language is to be savoured As well as writing other fantasy novels, Richard Adams went on to write the factual bookNature Through the Seasonsthree years later, and much of that information is incorporated here He credits another writer, R.M Lockley one of my favourite naturalist authors for teaching him about the characteristic behaviour of rabbits through his bookThe Private Life of the Rabbit .Of course it is not merely the depth and wealth of description which sets this aside as an adult book The broad story line of Watership Down concerns a small, ever changing group of rabbits, led by Hazel and his little brother Fiver, in an attempt to escape their warren Rabbits are prey animals witha thousand enemiesIt is a serious business to leave a safe home and risk living in a vast world of unknown predators There is no evident threat Sandleford Warren is secure, stable and happy Why should they leave Thus we have conflict from the very start We also have an other worldly dimension, since Fiver has a strange premonition of doom coming to their warren And Hazel, although the dominant one of the two, believes and respects Fiver for his inexplicable, almost psychic, abilities, since they are often right Fiver is runtish, often very twitchy and full of foreboding He cannot explain his feelings, and dark dread of a catastrophic event for the warren, even to himself But his prophetic visions always mysteriously carry conviction And his main vision, of a rabbit paradise, is a positive one which urges the rabbits to keep steadfastI know what we ought to be looking for a high lonely place with dry soil, where rabbits can see and hear all around and men hardly ever come Wouldn t that be worth a journey Fiver s vague premonitions come at key points during the book, and are essential to the plot, moving it along, often creating tension and arguments between the rabbits as they do so.Hazel is less intelligent and ingenious than some rabbits, yet he is a born leader Bigwig, the freedom fighter, is stronger and bigger than Hazel, but Hazel makes a much better leader because he can think for the whole group, and is able to see immediately how to work cooperatively and use each member of the group s special skills, in order to best benefit them all For instance it is higher achieving rabbits such as Blackberry, view spoiler who can work out how to free rabbits living in a hutch, or how to use a boat hide spoiler