Watership Down by Richard Adams

watership.jpgWatership Down was my last read for the Four Legged Friends Challenge and it had come to be last because I had been putting it off thinking that it wouldn’t be a favorite of mine or that it might be too drawn out at 476 pages. Trust me when I say that it ended up being one of my favorite reads so far this year. I didn’t want to let these characters go by the time I was finished the book…and they’re all rabbits!

Watership Down is a touching and warming story of companionship filled with adventure. It’s the story of a society of rabbits who find that their warren is being taken over by man, so they flee to find a new place to live. We follow their journey as they face many foes and trials. Richard Adams created a cast of characters that was unreal. Hazel, Bigwig, Fiver, Pipkin, Clover…these are just a few of the characters that will stick with me for a long time. He did an amazing amount of research on rabbit life and habits and portrayed them well here. The book is really quite educational. He also created a whole rabbit language and mythology that’s interlaced throughout the book so we see a whole society represented here. The folk tales that the rabbits told were some of my favorite chapters in the book. Nymeth wrote a review on the book awhile back talking more about this…check it out! Her review is excellent!

I know this book has been debated upon endlessly and countless academic papers have been written upon it’s meaning, so I couldn’t help but smile when I read the new introduction by the author. Richard Adams explained that he wrote this book for his daughter. He would read her bed time stories and he said that sometimes the stories were such crap that he knew that he could write something better, so he did. It started as a story that he would tell his daughter during long car rides in the car. And then he says this: “I want to emphasize that Watership Down was never intended to be some sort of allegory or parable. It is simply the story about rabbits made up and told in the car.” So when it comes down to it, I guess you can search for deep meaning in the book, but it is what it is…a wonderful story. I really enjoyed it and hope that others will too. Pick this one up!

So as I said, this is the end of the Four Legged Friends Challenge for me! I read:

1. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
2. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
3. Surrender by Sonya Hartnett
4. Varjak Paw by S.F. Said
5. Watership Down by Richard Adams

Big thanks to Kailana for hosting it! It really was a great challenge…My favorite book would be this one, Watership Down with The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane coming in a close second. Least favorite, Surrender. Just didn’t do it for me.

15 Responses

  1. yay! I’m glad you enjoy this one so much 😀

    I didn’t want to say goodbye to the characters either…and I miss them. I really have to fit “Tales from Watership Down” into my reading plans for this year.

    My edition of the book didn’t have that new introduction…it sounds great! I know that a lot of people go on about how he wrote it as an environmental or political statement or whatever…certainly his love of nature and his belief in freedom and equality come across in the book, but it’s not like he set out to write a story to illustrate those points. It probably wouldn’t have been a very good book if he had. This way, it’s a wonderful story can be read in whatever way the reader chooses, and that makes it all the richer.

    Congratulations on finishing the challenge! It really was a great one.

  2. Watership Down is a book I remember very fondly from childhood. Wonderful story.

    The animated film is also very good, you should definitely check it out now that you’ve read the book. We revisited it recently, and it brought back fond memories.

    Since you enjoyed Watership Down, I can recommend The Plague Dogs, also by Richard Adams. I have a very old, battered copy lying around somewhere, another fond memory from childhood.

    So pleased you enjoyed it, and thanks for sharing Adams’ introduction – made me smile. 🙂

  3. First Annie, then Nymeth, now you. That’s three opinions I trust wholeheartedly, so I guess I’d better move this one higher up on the old pile. Congrats on finishing the challenge! (I still have one to go…and not much time left.)

  4. good for you finishing a challenge!

    I did read this book when I was young I probably should do a reread on it someday too..

    like you I went into a book or two with talking animals and thought.. oh boy I may not get through this, but then wound up loving the book . Glad it was that way for you

  5. oh dear… i can well believe that you liked this, but i am too afraid to read it.

    the cartoon is very popular here in england – it has sort of subtly seeped into the popular consciousness – and it just seems so sad! and scary! those mean rabbits!!

    it does seem a beautiful story though… well done on completing the challenge!

    and hooray for coming over to wordpress! now its much easier for me to leave my comments 🙂

  6. I keep meaning to read this one. I really do.

  7. I can’t believe my challenge is almost over! Time really has flown by, hasn’t it… Congrats on finishing. 🙂

  8. Okay, I’ve got to re-read this one. I read it years ago…i mean yeeeeaaaaaarsssss ago. I’ve totally forgotten it. Which is not a good thing, is it? I just have to find out where the heck on what bookshelf it is.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever read “all the little animals” by Walker Hamilton. I love animal movies or movies about animals and recently saw the flick based on it. It was absolutely lovely, i think…although some folks say it wasn’t as good as the novel. So now I’m gonna stalk the bookstores looking for the novel. It’s YA, too, and dealing with a young man with a mental handicap. If you haven’t read it, you might like it. -C

  9. Nymeth, Oh, I had forgotten about Tales from Watership Down! I’m excited now!! Have to go get that one! The introduction isn’t very long..only about 6 pages, but it’s good. I think that those points are in the book by the nature of the book, but I don’t think that he intended them to be in there or that it was written as a deep and meaningful book. It was written as a bedtime story for his daughter…I thought that was sweet and it makes it that much better!

    Quix, I wish I would’ve read this when I was a child. I have no doubt that it would’ve entranced me. Thanks for telling me about the other book of his…here goes my wishlisht…I’ve already added the movie onto my Netflix. I’ve heard that it’s really good and I can’t wait to see the characters translated onto film…well, animated film.

    Debi, Definitely move this one up on the pile! You’ll love it. It was such a good book. You’ll be wanting a rabbit by the end! Of course you won’t get one, because you’ll also think rabbits should be kept free 😉 And you still have plenty of time to finish the challenge…you’ll do it!

    Deslily, This is the second one already this year! I finished the Japanese challenge and this one…I’m shocking myself! You should reread this one..it was so good! This is the year of rereading for you, eh? I really enjoyed all of these animal books…I could stay with them for another 5 books. But I have so much to read that I’m going to move on…Well, I do have the Pern books!!

    Jean Pierre, Hey! Aw, you’d love this book…yeah, there are some awfully mean rabbits, but there are also very endearing rabbits. It’s just like any story of bad vs. good, I guess it just seems worse because it involves animals. But it’s a wonderful book! I love WordPress so far! Never thought about all you other Worpressians having an easier time leaving comments….and now I’m sure all of the blogger people are complaining :/

    Becky, Oh you have to! You’d go gaga over this one, seriously. It’s a beautiful book.

    Kailana, Yep…I was freaking out looking at the size of Watership Down and then looking at the date of the end of your challenge so I figured I should read it soon. I LOVED your challenge. I’d definitely be up for it again if you host it again.

    Carole, I agree, you have to reread it 😉 I’m sure you’d remember it once you got into it. It’s a beautiful story…very touching and the folk stories alone are worth it! I haven’t read “all the little animals” Another one for the wishlist! It sounds like something that I’d really enjoy.

  10. I’ve heard that this is a really good book, I have it on my list of books I want to read. Isn’t it interesting that a book can be so overanalyzed that people lose track of the fact that it is just a story? That is incredible that people write whole theses on a children’s book.

    I saw the movie Because of Winn-Dixie, but I didn’t realize that it was a book first. I’ll definitely have to pick that one up. Maybe Kailana will do this challenge again next year.

  11. Did you know they made a cartoon about this book in the late 70s/early 80s? I remember watching it and being devestated by the sad ending. I have since read the novel (probably about four or five years ago) and really enjoyed it. I even bought a copy of the cartoon on DVD!

  12. Kim, It is a really good book…I’m sure you’d enjoy it! I love how people get carried with these deep meanings of books…Like I said, you can certainly take some “deeper meanings” from this book, but they weren’t purposefully intended to be in there…they’re in there by nature of the story. It’s simply a wonderful story that was written to entertain a child and was so good that it captures the hearts of adults as well. It’s fantastic!. OK, Now you HAVE to read some Kate DiCamillo…she’s the one who wrote Because of Winn-Dixie and she’s my favorite children’s author. She’s amazing! My favorite’s are The Tale of Despereaux and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane…Her stories are heartbreaking, but heartwarming at the same time if that makes sense. She doesn’t put blinders over children’s eyes which I love. She shows the world how it actually is…horrible at times, but shows how we can survive it! I think you’d love her books.

    Stephanie, I did know about the cartoon and I just added it on my Netflix now that I’ve finished the book. Looking forward to it, though I’m prepared for it being quite sad after reading the book 😦 The book was just amazing and I can’t wait to see it translated into film form!

  13. JRR Tolkien said the same thing. Piffle. Okay maybe the meaningfulness wasn’t conciously embedded by the author but is there nonetheless.

    I read Watership Down expecting less than nothing not to mention it was only a few years ago. REALLY loved it. I’m not sure I would have if I’d had any expectations, if that makes sense.

    (And for the record, two days spent reading in bed is glorious! Glorious! But maybe a nice walk in the middle of it somewhere would be good….)

  14. I’ve heard of this book for as long as I can remember but I’ve never actually read it. I’m glad you liked it! I might have to get around to reading it one of these days.

  15. Carrie, Yeah it can be good to stay in bed and read sometimes…I guess I just felt guilty when I was doing it because I feel like I should be doing something else…but I’ll get there…I just need a damn job! I wasn’t expecting much from Watership Down either, and still didn’t expect much when I first started it, but by the end I was addicted to it. I didn’t want it to end! I really loved it too 🙂

    Ladytink, Oh do go read it! I think you’d love it. I know you like animated films too, so you can go watch the old 70’s animated movie after 😉

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