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Watership Down: A Novel by Richard Adams
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Watership Down: A Novel (original 1972; edition 2005)

by Richard Adams

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
14,922None129 (4.23)3 / 539
Member:ifjuly
Title:Watership Down: A Novel
Authors:Richard Adams
Info:Scribner (2005), Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:children's literature

Work details

Watership Down by Richard Adams (Author) (1972)

20th century (121) adventure (264) allegory (148) animals (623) anthropomorphism (94) British (117) British literature (88) children (80) children's (187) children's literature (119) classic (416) classics (279) England (146) English (60) fantasy (1,196) favorites (59) fiction (2,192) journey (63) literature (201) novel (269) own (98) paperback (85) rabbits (737) read (234) richard adams (64) talking animals (57) to-read (188) unread (99) YA (66) young adult (127)
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English (248)  Italian (3)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  Finnish (2)  French (1)  All languages (258)
Showing 1-5 of 248 (next | show all)
“Watership Down” by Richard Adams is a classic novel that had been on my “to read” list for a long, long while. However, a storyline about a group of rabbits searching for a new home couldn’t quite compete with the thousands of other titles on my list with more adult themes. Not long ago, I discovered a dog-eared copy in a box of musty smelling paperbacks that the local library was selling. Fifty cents seemed like a steal, so I purchased it along with an armload of others by Ray Bradbury and Arthur C, Clarke. After sitting on my nightstand for several months, I finally opened the little paperback and began reading. When finished, I was deeply regretful that I had waited so long in life to read this wonderful tale.

It didn’t take long to suspend disbelief and plausibility as I became attached to the story’s central characters. Unlike many Chief Rabbits, who rose through the ranks simply by virtue of size and strength, Hazel, an unassuming rabbit with a knack to recognize and marshal the talents of his comrades, becomes the group’s accepted leader. Though Hazel’s brother, Fiver, was the shunned runt of their mother’s litter, he could foresee perilous happenings during their journey that might be eluded or altered. Bigwig, an Owsla of their former warren, was large and fierce, a protector and strategist. Blackberry had a capacity for figuring out simple mechanics alien to his species, like how a piece of wood might float a weaker member of their clan over a water crossing. The fastest of their group, Dandelion, was also a gifted storyteller, who could inspire his companions when circumstances were bleak. And, many more delightful and fearful characters…

Mr. Adams invents an entire rabbit lore explained through a series of tales within his tale. Dandelion recites several stories about Frith, the Rabbit Sun-God, and El-ahrairah, a folk hero of extraordinary cunning, and the Black Rabbit, a menacing death figure.

The author’s prose is meticulous, yet simple and refined enough to be understood and appreciated by children and adults. Mr. Adams doesn’t shy from the cruelties of nature, especially when rabbits are preyed upon by every predator imaginable. Some violence and death are integral to the narrative, which is occasionally grim, but I believe these particular passages are written in such a way that most children wouldn’t find especially distressing.

Although the story is illustrated in human terms, the author does a clever job weaving in and around the imagined psyche of rabbits.

The first half of the story is a bit unhurried as the journey progresses, but the second half picks up speed. Once settled into their new home, Hazel ponders his group’s continued survival, so elaborate plans are made to gather willing does from an unfriendly, faraway warren. I found it difficult to put the book down during the final chapters.

Although I can’t prove, I like to believe in the presence of souls in all living things, so for me, the book’s poignant epilogue wrapped up the story nicely. ( )
1 vote johnrcobb | Apr 16, 2014 |
An amazing book about the fictional world of rabbits. ( )
  JK135 | Apr 9, 2014 |
I loved every minute of this book! What a sweet, interesting, adventurous, uplifting tale! I think Adams does a good job of giving us information about true rabbits while anthropomorphizing them enough to give us a story that humans can connect with. Like Tolkein's Hobbits, Adams's rabbits prefer to stay close to home and thrive on routine, but when they are thrust into an adventure by forces outside their control they rise admirably to the occasion.

The interspersed rabbit folk tales with their trickster hero, El-Ahrairha, are a particularly enjoyable feature of the book, and add depth and scope to the story of Hazel and his band of rabbits.

In addition, being a sucker for a happy ending, I was pleasantly surprised to see that all my favorite characters survived the entire adventure!

This is a great read for youth and adults. Highly recommended! ( )
1 vote glade1 | Apr 3, 2014 |
My esteem of the story ebbed and flowed between a 3 and 4 star rating. However that sentiment may be due to reading most of it on an 11 hour plane ride. I particularly liked the rabbit lore and the tales of El-ahrairah, also the ending was very well done, earning it the overall 4 star rating.

I think the next animal story that I will read will be Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. I've very familiar with the movie, but have yet to read the book. I bring this up because, Watership Down reminded me of Rats of NIMH because the main characters act slightly out of their natures. I am very happy that in the story Richard Adams has his rabbits admit that they are acting slightly out of character of their rabbit nature, which is one of there reasons why I so admired the story. There's something to be said of unlikely adventures, whether they be Hobbits, mice, reluctant princesses, or rabbits, it's nice to see a character slightly out of their element and how, or even if, they cope and handle it. ( )
  Court09 | Apr 1, 2014 |
Amazing. Planning to read this again. ( )
  tnangle | Mar 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 248 (next | show all)
It would seem that in Adam's ardor for wild creatures he has tried too hard to make a case for them instead of allowing them fully to be their own recommendation. I'm grateful for much of what he's done, but I'm not going to look at rabbits differently from now on.
 
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 (14 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
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Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Master Rabbit I saw
Walter de la Mare
Dedication
To Juliet and Rosamond, remembering the road to Stratford-on-Avon
First words
The primroses were over.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
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.
Haiku summary

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:29 -0400)

(see all 8 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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 18 descriptions

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Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0241953235, 0141341939

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