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Watership Down by Richard Adams

Watership Down (original 1972; edition 2005)

by Richard Adams

Series: Watership Down (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
20,546402122 (4.21)3 / 801
Chronicles the adventures of a group of rabbits searching for a safe place to establish a new warren where they can live in peace.
Title:Watership Down
Authors:Richard Adams
Info:Scribner (2005), Paperback, 476 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Watership Down by Richard Adams (1972)

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1970s (2)

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English (386)  Finnish (4)  Italian (4)  Spanish (3)  French (2)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  All languages (402)
Showing 1-5 of 386 (next | show all)
Beautiful story, interesting prose, great characters, and a deep and wonderful lore/world. This has the premise of a kids book, but the depth and details of something much more complex, not to mention it can be surprisingly dark and brutal at times. Hazel is an amazing leader and he shows you don't have to be the smartest/strongest/fastest person to be an effective leader. You might need to be the bravest, most confident, and possibly luckiest though. ( )
  Andjhostet | Jul 27, 2020 |
5 stars - This book was published in 1975 and i've never read it because i thought it was a children's book. It's not. The author weaves a story made up of the adventures of a warren of rabbits as they come to terms with changes and relocation, conflicts and battles. There is blood, there is fighting, there is camaraderie. The lessons here are powerful and well developed. Each of us has different skills abilities and giftings and those things make us both different and also necessary and valuable. The audible version is well narrated. ( )
  JohnKaess | Jul 23, 2020 |
When I was very young I was taken to see this movie that my parents probably thought would have cute, comical bunnies in it. Thusly I was exposed to disturbing images of fields of blood, extreme bunny-bunny violence and weird, floaty and somehow scary black rabbits...there was also an alarmingly bad song called Bright Eyes. The whole thing was incomprehensible and scary and I didn't like it. And the song was everywhere for weeks...

Zillions of years later the scars have healed and I eventually get round to finding out if all that fuss back in the '70s was merited.

Well, by the time I'm at the end of Part 2 and the rabbits have escaped the fields of blood and settled on Watership Down I didn't really think so. It seemed like it had been too easy and anticlimactic. There were no female characters. I also felt that the theme of human impact being negative and destructive was a little too easy: novelists now, as then, have their environmental impact, as do we all. It's easy to suggest that humans are degrading their environment, harder to say what should be done about it given that we are all complicit in it - and Adams makes no effort at all in that direction.

Little did I suspect that this was just the pre-amble to a tremendous adventure in which this theme would be dropped almost entirely and the focus would shift toward questions of leadership, governance and the will to power. Or that the lack of female rabbits would turn out to be crucial to what was going to happen next.

Now, a bunch of talking rabbits should really be laughable, but they really aren't. How does Adams acheive this? Partly by creating convincing characters, something that is, of course, crucial to the success of any novel but that doesn't resolve the absurdity of talking rabbits. One method adopted by Adams is to remember that they are rabbits, not just metamorphosed humans, which one might think would be counter-productive but turns out not to be. So these rabbits behave like rabbits and where human cultural attitudes conflict with the general behaviour of rabbits, rabbit behaviour is kept. Rabbit behaviour is also described in detail, from a position of knowledge. But here's what makes the whole thing really work: The rabbits have a language, folk-tales, myths, legends and religion all their own. The floaty black rabbit from the film symbolises death and in the book is a good deal less floaty, more corporeal and even more scary. This doesn't stop the vaguely Promethean Ancestor-Father-Trickster-Rabbit of rabbit legend taking him on, though!

This matter of a society having history that merges into myth and legend, language that is convincingly represented, religious or spiritual elements to its culture seems to me to be a common factor linking the best works of fantasy (and what is more fantastical than a bunch of talking bunnies?). People talk about world-building in relation to fantasy and SF. I would suggest that these aspects of the world to be built are crucial.

The rabbit-language is so well handled that when Bigwig tells his nemesis to "Silflay hraka," it has all the offensive force of any crude one-liner a Hollywood action star has ever delivered and suits the moment perfectly. Was that in the film? I can't remember, but it should be! This happens during a denouement that has several perfect moments and becomes another folk-tale added to the rich store of stories kept in the warrens of the Lapines.

So the wobbly start of parts 1 and 2 turns out in part to be well thought out and necessary for what comes later and in part just forgetable once stuck into the drama of parts 3 and 4, where even the humans turn out to be not all bad after all. ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
(34) Here is what I wrote in 2006 when I first started my catalog: "Where is my dog-eared copy from childhood? How I loved this book when I was a young girl!"

My young girl self and my middle aged mother self who just finished reading this book to 10 year old boys agree with a 5 star rating. I recently finished both this and 'The Yearling' as read-alouds to my boys this summer and are counting them as my yearly "re-read." I loved it - as an adult reader, and especially through my sons' eyes.

Yes, it is indeed about rabbits who leave their old warren to found a new one. After several harrowing adventures they arrive on 'Watership Down,' only to realize that they have no does and thus will eventually die out. They must set out again to find and bring does back to Watership. I think this was my third time reading this book but it has been over 30 years since the last time -- and yet -- like it was yesterday - tharn, El-ahrairah, Efrafa, Osla, hrududu. All of the words in the 'lapine' language with the funny little footnotes and 'lapine glossary' came back to me. My boys find it especially funny to say "silflay hraka."

I love this book. it is partly a nostalgic love, but I love it for the adventure, for insights on leadership, generosity, karma. It is not necessarily an easy book to read - it is quite literary and am impressed by my long ago 5th grade reading skills. My boys loved it but certainly didn't read it themselves and would have likely put it down or skimmed through verbose passages describing the flora of the English countryside. But when all is said and done - it is a spell-binding novel. It feels timeless, and perfect. ( )
  jhowell | Jul 12, 2020 |
I couldn't finish this, and I tried. And I really wanted to like it, and it just was not happening. So I gave up after switching from a print edition to audiobook and still hating it. I gave it a good shot tho. ( )
  AshleyVanessaGG | Jul 6, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 386 (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 (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Adams, Richardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baynes, PaulineCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cosham, RalphNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Galli, AldoIllustratorsecondary 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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Canonical title
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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
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Chronicles the adventures of a group of rabbits searching for a safe place to establish a new warren where they can live in peace.

No library descriptions found.

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.

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Average: (4.21)
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1.5 10
2 161
2.5 40
3 648
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4 1700
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0241953235, 0141341939

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