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Watership Down Discussion

watership down movieAll right, for March’s book selection we read, or reread, Richard Adams’ rabbit-filled adventure story Watership Down. I had not read it for a couple of years, and as I always do, I wondered how it would appeal to me this time.

Short answer: just like always.

I’m 33 years old, and part of me still keeps wondering when I’m going to outgrow this book about “talking rabbits,” as my dad might say.

I’m starting to think it will never happen. That’s okay.

Watership Down can be read in a lot of different ways. Straight thriller/adventure story, a parable about the dangers of religion and cults, a commentary on man’s destructive march over the earth, or again, a “story about talking rabbits.”

For me it is all of those things and more. It’s still not really a feel-good romp. Take a look at the quote from the movie poster:

All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you…but first they must catch you.

Not an overly cheery-sounding life.

The best thing for me this time

My favorite thing about the book on this go-around was General Woundwort. I find him to be one of the greatest villains in all of literature, and I don’t care how many eyes that sets a rollin’.

He’s a scary beast, and part of me still wonders if he actually got the best of that dog at the end.

I also found that I still visualize the rabbits and the landscapes through the lens of the freaked-out trip that was the animated movie. From the weird washed-out colors (except for the blood), to the solemn Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack, to the nightmarish recap of the warren getting bulldozed–I no longer form my own images of those, I just go back to the movie.

If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it for the experience, but don’t really feel like it has tremendous replay value. It’s just too weird for me to really enjoy it.

So let’s talk–for those of you who read it again, or have read it in the past, what’s the best thing about this book? What’s the worst? Does the fact that a bunch of us are sitting around discussing a story about talking rabbits indict us as a bunch of immature ninnies, people without lives or brains, people who like to waste time when they should be reading big, fat, long, important books?

If this was wasted time, I was happy to waste it.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • josh April 5, 2011, 1:33 pm

    This was my first time reading this book and honestly I can’t believe that I had never even heard of it before. It was a pleasant surprise. I was blown away by how the author was able to make you invest in and care about the plight of these rabbits. I would say that my favorite part of the book was towards the end when he alludes to the possibility that the stories about El-ahrairah actually being true stories about the adventures of brave rabbits that came before them. Thanks again Josh, another good pick. I can’t wait to read it with my girls in a few years.

    • josh April 5, 2011, 1:35 pm

      I really should proof read my stuff before i post it.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 5, 2011, 3:31 pm

      Very glad to hear that!

  • Daisy April 5, 2011, 2:31 pm

    This is one of my favorite books of all time. Favorite parts: the rabbit vocabulary (silflay, roodoodoo, hrair) that permeates the book. We have pet rabbits, and when the wild ones seem interested in the pets, we always remember Watership Down!

  • Josh Hanagarne April 5, 2011, 3:31 pm

    I like the vocabulary as well. It seems appropriately rabbity.

  • Pim April 6, 2011, 3:26 am

    I didn’t know that this was the book to read for March. I read it several times in Dutch (my native language) and English. I saw the movie as a child. I simply love it. LOTR with bunnies. I read your original review. I share your enthousiasm.

    Have you read the Plague Dogs? If not you should. I have recently tried reading Duncton Wood, which is, I think Watership Down with moles. Somehow, it didn’t live up to WD.

    Maybe we should have a list of all time favourite animal related books?

    Might I suggest a few?

    the Jungle Book, Redwall, Whitefang, Wind in the Willows

    You really got me thinking Josh, thanks for the memories and I would like to know what the book to read for April is.

  • Laurie April 6, 2011, 1:48 pm

    As I recall from King’s The Stand, Stu Redman enjoyed this book. Which did you read first? I haven’t read watership down yet, but I guess it should go on the list. Laurie

    • Josh Hanagarne April 6, 2011, 1:50 pm

      I read The Stand first, way back in sixth grade.