Watership Down

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Watership Down

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Mai 12, 2009, 6:37pm

WTF? It starts with a long description of plants, in the middle of which is - I am not making this up - a mention of rabbit poop.

Seriously. Here’s the opener:
The primroses were over (what does that even mean?) Toward the edge of the wood, where the ground became open and sloped down to an old fence and a brambly ditch beyond, only a few fading patches of pale yellow still showed among the dog’s mercury and oak-tree roots (why this weird hyphenated phrase, “oak-tree”? Why not just say “oak roots”?)
A couple of sentences later we get:
...everywhere there were clusters of dry droppings, through which nothing but the ragwort would grow.
Wow. Just...wow. He chose to open with plants and rabbit turds. Someone explain why anyone would read past the first page? Also, are there any publishing industry insiders who can figure out how this got published?

Mai 13, 2009, 6:18am

It's told through the viewpoint of a rabbit. Hence the details are those which Adams' imagines are important to rabbits - such as who was last there and what edible plants are around. It sets the scene and introduces the gentle pacing of the book.

It's a fabulous tale of friendship trusta nd overcoming adversity. Well worth reading. It does pick up quite a bit after the first few pages, like almost any other book.

If you don't like the descriptions then I suggest you avoid 20000 leagues under the sea which is much much worse for dumping info irrelevant to the plot.

Bearbeitet: Mai 13, 2009, 9:51am

I loved Watership Down. It is definately an underdog overcoming adversity kind of book... even if it is about rabbits.

Please don't judge it on the first pages alone. Give it a chance.

Mai 13, 2009, 12:13pm

I appreciate your comments. Thank you.

Mai 13, 2009, 12:20pm

Yes, the rabbit turds and plants are just part of life in a rabbit's world! I agree with cal, don't judge it on the first few pages. It's actually quite a gripping story. You never get the feeling that it's really just humans in guise of rabbits. Adams does a good job making rabbit culture feel authentic and believable, and even kind of gritty. I've read it a couple times and enjoyed it each time. Let us know if you try it, we'd love to hear your thoughts! :-)

Mai 13, 2009, 12:25pm

I loved Watership Down too, but it took me a while to get into it. Still, I can see that it's not a book for everyone. Like others have said, you have to be able to switch your brain into the rabbit's world.

The primroses were over (what does that even mean?) . It's just a way to say they've finished blooming. Like right now in my garden, the tulips are just about over.

Mai 5, 2011, 4:13pm

I'm so glad to find this group. I've never been able to get into Watership Down. A book about rabbits? Not my style. Maybe one day I should try to make an actual go of it.

Mai 5, 2011, 4:38pm

overtly it's a book about rabbits, but that's just the vehicle. there's a LOT more to it than that.

Mai 5, 2011, 4:49pm

Deb -- I loved Watership Down! You have to be in the mood for it though.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 24, 2011, 2:31pm

I realize that this is a reply two years after the original post, but I felt that something should be said about the opener to Watership Down:

1. This is one author's way of getting you in the setting of the story. It's akin to "Once Upon A Time..." but is more descriptive, letting your mind's eye envision what the rabbits see.

2. Many different people of different backgrounds, education and nationality write books. Sometimes they use phrases that others are not familiar with. So, read on, get the context and figure it out, or use a dictionary. Why would anyone want a book "spoon fed" to them? Why should a book be easy to read, once you're past age 6 or 7?

3. Some books' authors use descriptions in a poetic sense. If you don't care of it, skip it. I read The Clan of the Cave Bear and a few of the sequels, but found myself skipping over the overly detailed sexual encounters described in the stories. Like Louis L'Amour's descriptions of fight scenes in his otherwise good reads, or James Fenimore Cooper's long descriptions of the countryside in his Longstocking series ( The Deerslayer , The Last of the Mohegans , etc.), sometimes a reader feels the need to "skip over" parts that don't interest him or her.

I hope since you posted this message that you've had a chance to give Watership Down another try. If you don't like it, don't worry...there are millions of books out there and something should engage your fancy. :)

Aug. 22, 2011, 1:48pm

I, too, am a Watership Down fan, and also enjoyed Richard Adams' Shardik, which was much darker.

Feb. 27, 2014, 11:37am

I was totally engaged by Watership Down in fifth grade. I'm now reading it to my son, who's in fourth grade, and he loves it just as much. The rabbit characters are very engaging. I especially admire many of the descriptive passages, Hazel's impressive leadership skills (we're abundantly shown them, not simply told he was a great leader), and the wonderful, frequently hilarious fables about El-arirah (sp?) that read like real fairy tales.

Feb. 27, 2014, 12:30pm

I read this a few weeks ago and really enjoyed this book.

Feb. 27, 2014, 1:53pm

I was grateful to be introduced to the story in this way. It set the tone for the whole book, and made the characters and their motivations, etc. so much more authentic. It drew me completely into the world of rabbits.

Feb. 27, 2014, 4:08pm

My daughter is tearing through the publication phenom that is the Warriors series. I've dipped in here or there so I can engage in conversation with her, and it strikes me there are strong parallels to Watership Down, but with feral cats in place of rabbits.

She's considered reading Watership Down when she's finished Erin Hunter's* sprawling series, but that may be awhile: there appear to be as many as 2 new titles published each year.

Anyone else have experience with the overlap or reception of Adams by fans of Hunter?

* A pseudonym for I think 6 separate authors, acknowledged as such on the publisher's official site for the series.

Feb. 27, 2014, 6:47pm

Both my daughters loved the Warrior Cat series (or series of series), but I couldn't get either of them interested in actually reading Watership Down, although I agree with your that there are parallels.

We went to an author event with Erin Hunter (not her real name, as you point out). She doesn't even like cats! The publisher came to her with this idea and asked her to write it and she said "okay." Not at all inspiring. And yes, there are other writers too--this main woman blocks out the general plot and major details and then a others write the books (when we saw her a few years ago I thought she said there were two in addition to herself, but with all the books they publish, I can see that they need a whole team).

The gym full of kids at the event were all thrilled, but as a book lover and adult, it was actually sort of depressing. The Warrior books are definitely a commodity. Interesting experience though.

Feb. 27, 2014, 7:04pm

I totally LOVED Watership Down. It is one of those books that gripped me and stays with me and made me cry because it ended. The World According to Garp by John Irving was another. Keep trying for a few more pages is my advice - or not if you just can't take it.

Feb. 28, 2014, 7:45pm

Watership Down is a heartbreaker. So is Shardik, but Shardik is slightly incomprehensible. Incomprehensibility adds distance. There is no distance in Watership Down. I didn't dare read the one about the dogs.

Feb. 28, 2014, 8:03pm

My dog caught a rabbit yesterday.
Rabbit stew for supper, for both of us.

Feb. 28, 2014, 9:09pm

19. Generous dog.

Mrz. 1, 2014, 4:45am

> 20: She's not a big eater. There are always leftovers.

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 1, 2014, 4:39pm

#21 LOL

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 2, 2014, 6:06pm

#1 - Carnophile : Your first exposure to Watership Down was exactly like mine, some years ago when I first picked it up from a table I found it on somewhere. And it's only now, with your posting, that I discover that it is a book from a rabbit's point of view!! What a scream!!

Thanks for causing that uncomfortable memory to resurface, but now with an explanation.

Mrz. 3, 2014, 7:33pm

>23 Diane-bpcb: I'm glad it makes more sense to you now. It still seems weird to me! I mean, of all the ways that that novel could have begun...

Jun. 24, 2014, 6:39am

a great description. i was confused by the poop too. then when i realized this was from the view point of a rabbit, it made perfect sense. i used to own a rabbit, and happen to know that as a nutrition source they recycle their poop for food. it's perfectly reasonable that if the writer wanted to reveal the true nature of a rabbits thoughts, seen through the eyes of a human, he'd have to help us realize their daily concerns on the very first page of the book. ie. poop. and tree roots.

Jun. 24, 2014, 6:41am

you'd have to be willing to concern yourself with an unfamiliar animal's crisis and cares. i had wear the rabbit's foot, so to speak.

Jun. 24, 2014, 6:42am

I love your response and advice. Especially #2

Jun. 24, 2014, 6:42am

His leadership skills, as told in the book, had made me question my own.

Jun. 24, 2014, 6:44am

seriously? enough meat for stew with just one rabbit?

Dez. 22, 2015, 6:21am

>15 elenchus: elenchus: I love Watership Down and I also read the Warrior Cats series, but although there are a few connections, I think them still a long way apart. Watership Down is such a detailed and well-written novel, with the rabbit's own language and legends, which are totally missing in the Warrior Cats. Warrior Cats have some simple cat language words, but not much and there is no real legend as you have it with El-Ahrairah in Watership Down.
I have always been a bit diappointed with Warrior Ctas, cause you get 6 books building up a lot of tension and in the end there are 2-3 pages that show the show down and it never felt satisfying.

For everyone, who loves Watership Down and wants to read another good animal book in that style, I can always recommend "Tailchaser's Song" by Tad Williams. It's as brilliantly written as Watership Down, but is with cats. But they also have their own well done language and a brilliantly thought up legends.

Dez. 22, 2015, 10:23pm

>30 LarraChersan:

Thanks for that! I recall seeing that Tad Williams book, but have not read it. Could be something that catches her fancy, I'll try it.

Dez. 23, 2015, 8:13am

>31 elenchus:
Or for a good 'world of cats' fantasy not entirely dissimilar to Tailchasers Song, try The Wild Road. (The drawing of the hero, Tag, on the cover looks almost exactly like my big boy Jasper.)

Dez. 25, 2015, 10:05am

> 32 Crypto-Willobie:
"The Wild Road" is good, but now and then a bit confusing, even for an adult (at least it felt like that to me).

> 31 elechus:
You can also try "Solo's Journey" by Joy Smith Aiken. It's not as detailed as "Tailchaser" but very good and might be good for a younger reader.

Jan. 4, 2017, 4:33pm

>1 Carnophile: The primroses were over simply means that they had finished flowering so you can deduce from those few words the time o f year essentially late spring in the uk. Please do not give up on this book. Happy reading

Jan. 5, 2017, 10:16pm

>34 justmum: Thanks. My wife's copy is still lying around, so perhaps someday I'll take another stab at it.