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Watership Down by Richard Adams

Watership Down (1972)

by Richard Adams

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Watership Down (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
18,575368120 (4.22)3 / 741
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(see all 36 recommendations)

1970s (1)

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English (352)  Italian (4)  Finnish (4)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  All languages (367)
Showing 1-5 of 352 (next | show all)
Now I’m well aware of this novel’s stature as a classic of children’s literature, and I know that it is beloved by many. For a number of reasons, however, this novel failed to resonate with me and—in significant ways—disappointed me.

The story is rather simple: a warren of rabbits, alerted by a clairvoyant rabbit named Fiver, decides to abandon their home at Sandleford and seek out a new utopia. Along the way, they encounter various dangers as they traverse the countryside. A rather straightforward anthropomorphic adventure story, yes? Well, no. About one third of the way into this lengthy tale (by the way, who writes a children’s book that is nearly 500 pages long?), Hazel (the male leader of this leporine group) realizes that no female rabbits (or does) joined his group when they fled Sandleford. And quite abruptly, the remainder of the story focuses on the group’s efforts to acquire does to ensure the propagation of the warren. They raid a farm to liberate does trapped in hutches, they infiltrate an oppressive warren (Efrafa) ruled by a military dictator (General Woundwort), and—after successfully fleeing with a number of rabbit concubines—they eventually engage in a surprisingly violent climactic battle with the Efrafan rabbits. Tales of leporine mythology—complete with a trickster rabbit deity—are interwoven throughout the novel, and Adams makes a concerted effort to create an engaging rabbit universe.

In my estimation, however (and this opinion is completely informed by feminist theory), the author succeeds in simply reproducing a gendered hierarchy within his fictional rabbit universe. All positions of power are held by male rabbits (who regard the female rabbits as mere incubators for offspring), and the few female rabbits involved in the story are indistinguishable from each other, as they are all simply helpless, frightened, and devoid of agency.

I cannot endorse a “children’s fantasy novel” that simply mirrors (and subtly endorses) gender inequities, violence, and exploitation in the name of male power. If I had young daughters, I wouldn’t let this novel anywhere near them. ( )
1 vote jimrgill | Sep 12, 2018 |
I remember being totally captivated by this book years ago.
Yesterday, when I learned of the passing of Richard Adams, I decided to read Watership Down again. ( )
  CYGeeker | Sep 6, 2018 |
I rated this book a 4.0 from memory, and it remains that to my mind.

I first read this book in 1975 with my dear friend, Jean. She was so enthusiastic, and I was a little reluctant, but we both managed to find time amid our studies to fit it in, and I was glad we did. A little bit The Odyssey, a little bit Lord of the Rings, a smidgen of The Wind in the Willows, and a tiny touch of Animal Farm, Watership Down is a quick-paced adventure in which you forget the animals are animals, they become so human. You root for them and worry for them and delight in their successes.

Back then, I think this book was a break from the intensity of my courses, but I didn’t enjoy it any less this time, when no “break” was really needed. I love the premises of this tale, that two rabbit brothers, Hazel and Fiver, escape the destruction of their warren and set out with a few others to establish a new one in a place that is far from home and very different. Their adventures and the friends they make along the way are captivating, and much of the tale is swashbuckling enough to attract Errol Flynn.

Richard Adams says this tale is not an allegory, and I believe he is truthful in saying he did not write it as such, but there is much about it that cannot help but be viewed that way. His daughters apparently urged him to put a tale he had invented for their pleasure down on paper, and we owe much to them for doing so.
( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Talking bunnies. What else could one ask for? ( )
  jlydia | Jun 25, 2018 |
not sure what i was expecting, but this book was so lovely and the perfect adventure story. a fully-realised, and fantastical, world that exists parallel to ours, characters you care about and root for, gorgeous nature writing, and an exciting and imaginative plot that kept me glued to the end. really really enjoyed this book. :') ( )
  basilisky | Jun 3, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 352 (next | show all)
Watership Down offers little to build a literary cult upon. On the American-whimsy exchange, one Tolkien hobbit should still be worth a dozen talking rabbits.
added by Shortride | editTime, Melvin Maddocks (Mar 18, 1974)
This bunny-rabbit novel not only steers mostly clear of the usual sticky, anthropomorphic pitfalls of your common garden-variety of bunny rabbit story: it is also quite marvelous for a while, and after it stops being marvelous, it settles down to be pretty good- a book you can live with from start to finish.

» Add other authors (80 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Adams, RichardAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baynes, PaulineCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cosham, RalphNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hallqvist, Britt G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juva, KerstiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawrence, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paolini, Pier FrancescoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parkins, DavidIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pekkanen, PanuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schuchart, MaxTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tucker, NicholasAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Webb, KayeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Master Rabbit I saw
Walter de la Mare
Juliet and Rosamond,
the road to Stratford-on-Avon
First words
The primroses were over.
CHORUS: Why do you cry out thus, unless at some vision of horror?
CASSANDRA: The house reeks of death and dripping blood.
CHORUS: How so? 'Tis but the odour of the altar sacrifice.
CASSANDRA: The stench is like a breath from the tomb.

Aeschylus Agamemnon
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Titre d'une autre édition : Les garennes de Watership Down
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Book description
AR 6.2, Pts 25.0

Fiver could sense danger. Something terrible was going to happen to the warren – he felt sure of it. So did his brother Hazel, for Fiver’s sixth sense was never wrong. They had to leave immediately, and they had to persuade the other rabbits to join them. And so begins a long and perilous journey of a small band of rabbits in search of a safe home. Fiver’s vision finally leads them to Watership Down, but here they face their most difficult challenge of all.
FI:"Viikka ja Vatukka, Voikukka ja Mansikka, Pähkinä ja Hopea ja muut kanit, Ruohometsän koko unohtumaton kansa tässä elokuvassa, joka on valloittanut maailman. Kertomus pikkukanien uhkraohkeasta pakomatkasta ihmisten jaloista kohti uutta, turvallista kotiseutua - on tarina kaikenikäisille. Jännittävä, liikuttava ja tiemastuttava koko perheen elokuva, jonka suosiosta kertovat myös monet suuret kansainväliset palkinnot."
Haiku summary
Rabbits find a home.
They find others on the way
and fight to stay safe.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0380002930, Mass Market Paperback)

Watership Down has been a staple of high-school English classes for years. Despite the fact that it's often a hard sell at first (what teenager wouldn't cringe at the thought of 400-plus pages of talking rabbits?), Richard Adams's bunny-centric epic rarely fails to win the love and respect of anyone who reads it, regardless of age. Like most great novels, Watership Down is a rich story that can be read (and reread) on many different levels. The book is often praised as an allegory, with its analogs between human and rabbit culture (a fact sometimes used to goad skeptical teens, who resent the challenge that they won't "get" it, into reading it), but it's equally praiseworthy as just a corking good adventure.

The story follows a warren of Berkshire rabbits fleeing the destruction of their home by a land developer. As they search for a safe haven, skirting danger at every turn, we become acquainted with the band and its compelling culture and mythos. Adams has crafted a touching, involving world in the dirt and scrub of the English countryside, complete with its own folk history and language (the book comes with a "lapine" glossary, a guide to rabbitese). As much about freedom, ethics, and human nature as it is about a bunch of bunnies looking for a warm hidey-hole and some mates, Watership Down will continue to make the transition from classroom desk to bedside table for many generations to come. --Paul Hughes

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:05 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

Chronicles the adventures of a group of rabbits searching for a safe place to establish a new warren where they can live in peace.

» see all 17 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0241953235, 0141341939

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