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And then as you read on, you see how it does, and I like that. I think that's fun. I did manage to get in a bit of Dostoevsky and a bit of Jane Austen , and even a bit of Cosi fan Tutte. I placed their distinct voices in the context of Watership Down. The voices of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer , important parts of my education both at home and at Bradfield, also came to be part of the narrative voice. I've always been grateful to my father and Bradfield for grounding me in the narrative parts of the Old Testament , the Gospels, and the Acts. This has remained with me all of my life, and I think it resonates in the narrator's voice.

It appears consciously in the epigraph from Psalm 59, where the psalmist's enemies "grin like a dog. Otten has suggested that it appears unconsciously in phrases like "in the fullness of time. The seagull comes out of my experience in World War II.


Kehaar's character, even his voice, is based on a Norwegian Resistance man whom I knew in the war, a splendid chap, Johansen. Norway was not involved, but he had been anyway. We met on a troop ship, and one night Johansen got very drunk, and finally the purser of the ship semiforcibly conducted Johansen downstairs to his cabin. And I cherish the memory of Johansen being led away shouting, "You say you in the last war? I was there too! I never see you! Of course, the storyteller, the narrator, is not merely a product of home and reading and education and personal experience.

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Storytelling is a timeless and universal occupation. People have been doing it since time immemorial. And it is a wonderful thing to have people hanging on your every word.

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When I was a boy at school, I used to tell stories in the dormitory before lights out, and it was terrific. They'd say, "Go on, Adams, what happened then? What happened then, Adams, what happened to him? I didn't imagine that anybody else would go for this particular private story told to my own two little girls, told for their pleasure as we drove to Stratford, and written at their insistence. Yet naturally it's intensely gratifying that this rather private and personal idea of mine, which started as nothing but that, has sold itself all over the world.

But like Lewis Carroll 's Alice, which was improvised by Charles Dodgson in a boat on the Isis on a summer afternoon, Watership Down was entirely spontaneous and unself-conscious, and written to the order of two little girls.

Booklist 70, no. It is not often that the opportunity to learn Lapin rabbit language arises, but Adams fills the knowledge gap in [ Watership Down, ] a saga about a warren of rabbits that encounters every conceivable crisis during and after a long enforced trek to a new home in England's Watership Down. These animals who talk endlessly and have an elaborate mythology and social structure carry their anthropomorphism with grace: their world becomes real and that of man's is seen in a new perspective. The delightful nature descriptions combine a sense of the poetic with an intimate knowledge of plant and animal life.

By the end of , Rex Collings, a small British publisher, took the risk of publishing Richard Adams's first literary attempt, a novel about talking rabbits called Watership Down. Despite the fact that the book had been rejected by several agents and publishers before Collings, Watership Down became an enormous success, a film was made and Adams, now rich and famous, decided to give up his job in the civil service to become a full-time writer. However, what are the reasons for the public's positive response? A few answers have been given by critics over the last few years see, for instance, James S.

Nevertheless, the key to the understanding of the novel's success has never been pointed out; to a large extent the success of Adams's book is due to the fact that it subjects the reader to a two-sided defamiliarization. In order to explain this process it is necessary to examine the relationship between a number of technical devices used by Adams, and the nature of the adventure itself. Watership Down began as an oral narrative; Adams told his two small daughters the rabbits' tale to entertain them during several journeys to Stratford-upon-Avon.

Later on he decided to write his tale down. This explains to a certain extent the existence of some links which connect the novel to the folktale. The involvement of the readers—of the audience—is all-important, and the storyteller does not hesitate in addressing his public now and then in order to draw them closer to the plot: "And 'what happened in the end? The first one is the traditional indirect free style, by means of which the characters' doubts and worries are scattered all throughout the book, as in the case of Hazel, the rabbit leader who, through the narrator's voice, asks himself, "What was in the bracken?

What lay around the further bend? And what would happen to a rabbit who left the shelter of the holly tree and ran down the path?

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He turned to Dandelion beside him" p. The second technical device to attract the reader's attention is not, however, as traditional as the indirect free style. It consists of the effect provoked in the reader when he is made to perceive external reality from a rabbit's point of view. All our senses must be continuously alert to follow the small animals in their quest: "The rabbits had gone only a short distance through the wood when they sensed that they were already near the river.

The ground became soft and damp. They could smell sedge and water. Suddenly, the harsh, vibrating cry of a moorhen echoed through the trees, followed by a flapping of wings and a watery scuttering. The rustling of the leaves seemed also to echo, as though reflected distantly from hard ground. A little further on, they could distinctly hear the water itself—the low, continuous pouring of a shallow fall" p.

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Furthermore, Hazel and his friends are talking rabbits but they do not wear clothes, smoke cigars, or do things which real rabbits could not physically do. Adams's intention is not only to draw a picture of the landscape in which the small animals live, he also wants us to identify with them, to perceive what rabbits perceive. The natural scenery in which the novel takes place—a landscape which the reader knows or thinks he knows—opens now from a new viewpoint, producing an effect of defamiliarization once we stop to think who the characters are and how they perceive the countryside of this part of twentieth-century England.

However, as previously mentioned, the defamiliarization in Watership Down has another side: the nature of the adventure itself. Adams is deeply influenced by Jung's works. He even underwent a full-scale Jungian psychoanalysis in the early s which lasted for three years. Both authors—Jung and Campbell—pay considerable attention to myth in their works, pointing out that some cultural activities such as esoteric teaching, rites of passage, legends and tales are nothing less than external manifestations of man's psychic struggle to attain the ultimate meaning of life or what Jung exactly terms "the integration of the personality".

According to Campbell The Hero, p. Don't tell me to forget about it and go to sleep. We've got to go away before it's too late'" p. The rabbit-seer represents here the first manifestation of what Campbell calls the "Supernatural Aid" The Hero, p. The call is answered by Hazel and a small group of young bucks who depart from their warren, experiencing in that way the process of separation which characterizes the first stages of the monomyth. From this point onwards they have to overcome a number of dangers—Campbell's "Road of Trials" The Hero, p. In this way, Hazel's band becomes integrated little by little into a compact unity, the real hero who shall achieve his main aim in the book's second part.

Even the narrator makes this idea clear when he affirms that since "leaving the warren of the snares [the rabbits] had become warier, shrewder, a tenacious band who understood each other and worked together" p. The second essential period of the monomyth, the process of initiation, ends when the rabbits obtain the "magic elixir" represented by the does, the female principle without which life cannot continue. However, the hero is bound to become the winner, and Hazel's brains and Bigwig's strength achieve the final victory defeating Woundwort and granting, in this way, the survival of the new warren.

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The final stage of the monomyth comes when the hero—the psychic struggler—experiences the vision of the cosmogonic cycle; he perceives life material forms running into death and the void but he also witnesses the ceaseless action of the Imperishable, the source of existence which gives birth to life again from the void.

Watership Down is certainly not a metaphysical work of the kind other novels by Adams were to become mainly The Plague Dogs, a few years later. But the novelist also wants to suggest the hero's final vision of the cosmogonic cycle and so he starts and concludes his first book in a symbolic way. He begins with "The primroses were over" and he finishes by closing the circle—the cycle: "and together [Hazel and El-ahrairah] slipped away, running easily down through the wood, where the first primroses were beginning to bloom" emphasis added.

Defamiliarization was made possible, therefore, by a number of closely interrelated factors. Watership Down 's characters are a group of twentieth-century English rabbits who physically behave almost as real rabbits do. The narrator brings us closer to them by very often focusing the story from these small animals' viewpoint.

Finally, the story itself proves to be an adaptation of the monomyth; the rabbits walk along the same path which many a great human hero—real or fictitious—has followed from the beginning of time.

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Furthermore, this path has been understood by many—Adams among them—as the external expression of man's inner struggle to search for the meaning of life; therefore, we can also speak of a conscious psychological appeal on the part of the author. But, after all, the truth which remains is that the mythical hero who fights almost to the death to fulfill his quest is a simple small rabbit—or, to be more precise, a group of rabbits. Defamiliarization arose because the storyteller, coming again from the past, has chosen to tell us the old adventure of a new mythical rabbit-hero. Is Richard Adams's Watership Down an epic? This is exactly what a veritable army of reviewers 1 have called it, and it is so proclaimed on its own dust jacket.