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Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson

Tarka the Otter (1927)

by Henry Williamson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Henry Williamson Animal Saga (Book 1)

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson is the classic story of an otter living by the Torridge River in North Devon. Originally published in 1927, this book captures life in the wild as seen through the eyes of an otter. Tarka means water wanderer and although this name gives a certain character to the otter, the author keeps the story’s atmosphere and detail on the side of reality. This isn’t a cute story about an animal with human characteristics, this otter is a creature of the wild and the author doesn’t hesitate to show the rawness of nature.

This book is more of a nature documentary than an “animal story”. The writing is beautiful in it’s description of the Devon countryside with it’s wooded valleys, rich farmland and gentle waterways. Many call this book an early “environmentalist” book, as the scenes of otter hunting and baiting called attention to the fact that otters were being systematically destroyed and by the 1960’s had almost become extinct. Although not written as a conservation book, it has helped to effect change and today otters are making a comeback.

Timeless and evocative, Tarka the Otter is a delightful read. The story is enhanced by the accompanying illustrations by Annabel Large. Although this book was not originally written as a children’s story over the years has become a beloved children’s classic and hasn’t been out of print once in it’s long existence. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Aug 3, 2017 |
This book was written in 1927. I give it four stars because it is ahead of its time as a fictional work that addresses ecology and other scientific premises so much that it begins to feel like a true story. It is set in the West Country of England or the county of Devon. Devonshire is about 200 miles from London. The language is a bit hard on the American reader because it uses a lot of words that defy meaning even in the dictionary such as fitch which I think is a weasel. The author also lists the location on every page of the book giving the story a sense of place. The reader follows Tarka up and down the Two Rivers area and the Severn Sea. The author's use of language is an important part of the book and the imagery is nature-nature as man plays only a minor unbecoming part in the book. The reader is also immersed in the cycle of life and death. Tarka is the protagonist and his life is but four years. His short life was quite exhausting for the reader as well as the otter. The author's title is Tarka the Otter His Joyful Water-Life and Death in the Country of Two Rivers. The introduction b y Robert Finch states, "By convincing us of Tarka's joy, it may prepare us to change out sympathies, that is ,our notion of what constitutes joy." I would recommend this book if you enjoy prose and nature. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
What a beautiful book to have read in a place so far removed from the setting of Tarka the Otter. The village of Male on the Rai Coast of Papua New Guinea has no rivers like that of Devon, no autumn leaves stain them brown, nor do the rivers here freeze in winter. There are no moors, and the coast does not echo to the cry of gulls.

This book was therefore a perfect read for my time in Male because, by reading it, I could escape the constant heat and humidity, attempt to ignore the raucous sounds of village life and, let’s be honest, try to forget I was living in a house with no furniture, no electricity and no running water. In fact, I was back as close to Henry Williamson’s living context when he wrote this as I could have been.

The tale has a Hardyesque nature about it with its beautiful descriptions of English countryside. But instead of an exploration of the depths of the human soul, we are portrayed as very shallow in this attempt to depict the nobility of the nature we live in.

The scenes of otter hunting are quite traumatic. However, there’s enough in the book to help me understand that man shares with the otter the desire to kill for sport alone. I honestly didn’t think I’d enjoy this but I found it captivating from beginning to end.

Walden isn’t a patch on this. Ruskin would be proud. ( )
  arukiyomi | Nov 27, 2011 |
Read this as a child for the otter story, but have recently found a copy and plan to reread it for the more adult elements.
  fuzzi | Sep 17, 2011 |
Though I knew Tarka was going to get killed at the end I was still overcome with grief when I reached the last pages. I had been slowing down my reading as if to make Tarka's life last a little longer. Grief and anger; shame upon anyone who kills an animal in the name of sport. ( )
  overthemoon | Jun 19, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Henry Williamsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Tunnicliffe, C. F.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Twilight over meadow and water, the eve-star shining above the hill, and Old Nog the heron crying kra-a-ark! as his slow dark wings carried him down to the estuary.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140366210, Paperback)

This is the classic story of an otter living in the Devonshire countryside, which captures the feel of life in the wild as seen through the otter's own eyes.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:39 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The classic story of an otter living in the Devonshire countryside which captures the feel of life in the wild as seen through the otter's own eyes.

» see all 3 descriptions

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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