Per an Associated Press report that came to light earlier this week, British author Richard Adams died on Christmas Eve at the age of 96. His book Watership Down was thought to be a classic of children’s literature, both for its lyrical quality as well as the perception of its relevance at the time of its publishing and today. Completely unrelated to this timing, I chose to read Adams’ masterpiece in advance of his passing. I finished my reading earlier this afternoon.
Set in southern England amongst a small group of rabbits that spoke in terms understood by readers, Watership Down was the tale of rabbits living in their own natural environment engaging in what I would consider “natural village behavior” for rabbits living in the wild. They speak, feed, move, and went about the “trauma and excitement” of seeking a new place to live while not knowing where to go, what they’ll face, the correctness of tactics or strategy, and enemies with similar concepts of life and death.
The really adult quality of this adventure, beyond this setting, is that the culture of the group of rabbits, and the other animals they encountered, is unique to each group and diverse. Each group came to view the world per their abilities, their experiences, and what life has taught them. This story did an excellent job showing “adulthood” to a young adult audience; the experience allowed something for juvenile kids and adults coming back to this, or experiencing it for the first time.
I come away appreciating the story. Some people have come to this story now, on both sides of the liberal / conservative approaches to government, seeking insight. That’s okay, and those readers will take something from Watership Down. That somebody might want to read that could probably find it here. I did not seek that ability for “reading into” the story; I think that this neither added nor detracted from a quality experience.
Given all this preface, let me mention that my rating is 4-stars out of five.
Matt – Saturday, December 31, 2016