Adams, Richard: Watership Down
(researched by Jennifer Morgan)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 1974 866 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022 Copyright 1972 RexCollings Ltd.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
First Edition published only in cloth.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
222 leaves, pp. i-vii ix x-xiii, 1-3 4-106 107-109 110-231 232-235 236-327 328-331 332-426 427 428-429 430-432
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
Not Edited or Introduced
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
2 Maps - adapted from ones drawn by Marilyn Hem
mett.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
Typography is serif and very attractive and readable. The book is well printed without smudges. All chapter titlesí typography is serif in italics. There are large side margins. Printed on the spine is the title in large
print, the authorís name in small print under the title, and the name of the publisher on the bottom. The cloth cover is divided in two shades of tan and the authorís signature is inscribed in gold on the cover.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The paper is of
good quality, it is thick and does not have any tears or stains.
11 Description of binding(s)
The adhesive binding is holding together well, except at the very end of the book where it has split.
12 Transcription of title page
Watership Down/[rule 89mm.]/RICHARD ADAMS/Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc./NEW YORK
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
The author, Richard Adams, possesses his original manuscripts and keeps them in his home.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Typography from title page: title of novel is in large print and is serif in bold italics, the authorís name is serif, the publishers n
ame is serif in italics, the place listed is also serif. The novel is divided into four parts and there is an entire page (front and back) to separate the different parts. On the front of this page is listed Part I (or II, III, IV - in serif) and then a
line [rule 89mm.], and under the line is the title given for the separate Part of Watership Down (in bold italics serif) - the back of this page is blank. The page numbers are found in the outer corners at the top of the page. Within the text, the title
of the chapter is listed on the right page in the outer corners at the top of the page alongside the page number. The title of the Part of the book is found on the left page in the outer corners at the top of the page alongside the page number.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
-The original American publisher (Macmillan Publishing Co.) issued the book in more than one edition but I do not know how many because I could not find that information - I also could not find information on any distinguishing features of each edition. (I found up to a 5th Ed. on Bibliofind.) - N/A (Original English Publisher - Rex Collings Ltd.)
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
-There are at least 14 printings of the 1st American Edition. -One printing of the English first edition.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Penguin - UK, 1973 (Puffin, 1993 - Penguin Books/Kestrel Books, 1976) Avon Books, 1975 London Book Club Association, 1975 Paradine, 1976 Angus and Robertson, 1976 Thorpe, 1981 Charnwood, 1981 Allen Lane, 1982 Buccaneer Books, Inc., 1994 G.K. Hall; Chivers Press, 1997 Under Umbrella Company of Macmillan/Simon and Schuster: Scribner, 1996 Macmillan Library Reference, 1997
6 Last date in print?
Currently in print (1998) (Macmillan Library Reference)
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
1974 - 220,000 copies sold (According to 80 Years of Best Sellers and Bowker Annual-1975)
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
Waiting to hear back from publishers.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
-There is a three page ad in Publishers Weekly (January 14, 1974). At the top of the first page in large type are the words: "I announce with trembling pleasure, the appearance of a great story." In the middle of the page is a large picture from the dust-cover of the American 1st Edition. At the bottom of the page are two quotes side by side: "... expected to be one of the major...literary and commercial successes of 1974..." (Washington Post Book World - December 23, 1973) "No forthcoming book has inspired more gossip and conjecture..." (Publishers Weekly - December 17, 1973) The second page contains 15 quotes in medium type, some are London Reviews and comments while others come from the United States. The third page shows a picture of the Macmillan First Edition that takes up almost the entire page. Underneath the picture are the words: "Our most heavily advertised and publicized book of the year." -There is another ad in the New York Times Book Review (March 17, 1974) that is very similar to the one I described above. The only difference is in the layout. This ad covered two pages with the quote "I announce with trembling pleasure, the appearance of a great story." in big type across the two pages. Underneath the quote is the title "Watership Down" in very large letters going across the two pages and next to the title are the words "A novel by Richard Adams" Then the same fifteen quotes that were found in the three page ad are spread across these two pages underneath the large title. At the bottom of the ad, spanning both pages is the illustration found on the dust jacket of the 1st American Edition.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
-Richard Adams went on a book tour. -Macmillan put out a publicity brochure. -Richard Adams did an interview in Publishers Weekly. (April 15, 1974)
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Movie: Watership Down, 1978, Animation, Produced by Nepenthe Productions, Directed by Martin Rosen Cassettes: Books on Tape, 1990 American Printing House for the Blind, 1994 Literate Ear, 1991 Mind's Eye, 1984 (Dramatization by the Australian Broadcasting Company's Renaissance Players) Soundtracks: Watership Down Original Soundtrack, New Yourk, NY: Columbia, 1978 (Motion Picture Music) Watership Down Musical Score, Author: Machel Carson, 1987, chamber orchestra, based on the novel by Richard Adams Calendar: New York: Avon Books, 1977, 16 pictures - illustrations by Eric Tenney Theatre Production: Readers Theatre Production of Watership Down by L.A. Armagost, William Jewell College - Honor Papers 1978-79, Liberty, MO
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
(French) Les Garennes de Watership Down, Publisher: Flammarion, Place:Paris, Year:1983 (Russian) Udivitel 'Nye Prikliucheniia Krolikov: Skazochnaia Povest', Detskaia Literature, Leningrad, 1988 Daleka Cesta Za Domovem, Mlada Fronta, Praha, 1996 (Italian) La Colina dei Conigli: Romanza, Rizzoli, Milano, 1982 (Korean) Wot'osip Daun Ui T'Okki, Nanam Ch'ulp'an, Soul, 1995 (Catalan) El Turo de Watership, Edhasa, Barcelona, 1989 (Hebrew) Giv'at Votership, Zemorah - Bitan, Tel Aviv, 1984 (German) Uten am Fluss, Buchclub Ex Libris, Zurich, 1983 (German) Uten am Fluss, Ullstein, Frankfurt, 1975 (Spanish) La Colina de Watership, Ultramar, Madrid, 1975 (Polish) Wodnikave Wzgorze, Panstwaoy Instytut Wydawniczy, Warszawa, 1982
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
Tales From Watership Down Richard Adams New York: Alfred A. Knopf Inc: Distributed by Random House, Inc. 1996
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Richard George Adams was born May 10, 1920, in Newbury (Wash Common was the town where Adams was born, which at the time was outside Newbury), Berkshire, England. His father, George Beadon Adams, was a surgeon and his mother, Lilian Rosa (Button) Adams was a nurse. Richard Adams is the younger brother of Katherine and John and before he was born, he had a brother Robert who died in an influenza epidemic. George Adams took his son on many excursions around the countryside (which included Watership Down) and passed his love of nature on to Richard. From 1933 until 1938 he attended Bradfield College in Bershire. Adams then went to Worcester College, Oxford, in 1938. After his summer term in the year 1940, Adams received his "calling-up papers" and joined Brander Squad of the British Army. During the course of the Second World War Adams became a Captain in the Army. While in the Army, Adams met many men who later became the basis for characters in his books "Watership Down" and "The Plague Dogs." He served part of his time in the paratroops and he participated in the liberation of Singapore in 1945. After the war ended, at age twenty-five, Adams asked to be released from the Army to return home and within a few months he was able to do so. Upon his return home he signed up for the "Hilary term of 1946" and graduated in 1948 with a B.A. in modern history (Adams, 378). On September 26, 1949, Richard Adams married the daughter of his parent's next door neighbor, Barbara Elizabeth Acland. They had two children, Juliet Vera Lucy and Rosamond Beatrice Elizabeth. After completing his studies at Oxford, Adams joined the Ministry of Environment where he worked for twenty-five years. While working at the ministry, Adams began creating "Watership Down" as a story to amuse his two young daughters. Juliet and Rosamond urged him to put the story down on paper. The tale took two years to finish and was rejected by four different publishers and three authors' agents. Adams almost had his book printed at his own expense in order to give the book to his daughters, but he first contacted Rex Collings, who accepted "Watership Down." Adams, at age 52, had his first novel published by Rex Collings which printed a limited first edition of only 2,000 copies in 1972. The novel won the Guardian Award and Carnegie Medal. "Watership Down," set in the animal world, takes place in the English countryside where Adams grew up. Adams second novel, "Shardik" (1974 - also published by Rex Collings), did not receive as much recognition as "Watership Down." In "The Plague Dogs" (1977) Adams returned to writing about the animal world. In 1980 Adams' fourth novel, "The Girl In A Swing," was published. That same year Adams became the President of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and later resigned in 1982. Adams' went on to write two more novels, "Maia" (1985) and "Traveller" (1988), both published by Knopf. Adams penned his autobiography which was published by Century Hutchinson in 1990. The autobiography gives the details of his life up through the meeting of his wife. Through the years other writings of Adams' were published, such as "The Tyger Voyage" (1976), "Nature Day and Night" (1978), and "The Bureaucrats" (1985). Adams' current agent is David Higham Associates Ltd. In 1996 Adams' published a sequel to "Watership Down." "Tales from Watership Down" continue the adventures of the rabbits introduced in the earlier book through nineteen interrelated stories. Adams lives today with his wife Elizabeth in Benswells, his 18th century home in England. His expansive library includes many first editions of various authors and many rare collections. His library also holds all his books in every edition ever published. All of his original manuscripts are kept safely in an annex. Richard Adams' currently lives at the following address: 26 Church St., Whitchurch, Hampshire RG28 7AR, England. "Richard Adams comments: I can only say, like Trollope, that I am an entertainer, and the essence of fiction is that the reader should wish to turn the page."
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
London Reviews (1972): Reviewed as a children's novel in London, Watership Down received praise from the reviewers who named it an instant classic. Many made the important distinction that Watership Down was a book about rabbits, and not (they stressed), about bunnies. A story about bunnies suggests a cute and fluffy story for nursery age children. Watership Down has more substance than a simple story about bunnies would imply. Adams wrote an adventure novel with real, in-depth characters. The characters are high functioning rabbits that capture the readers interest. The reviewers also commented on how Adams' love of nature and knowledge of the Hampshire/Berkshire countryside added a sense of reality to the novel. Adams' imagination also received a lot of praise. Overall the reviews commended the way he blends fantasy and reality to make a believable and well-developed adventure story. -"If there is no place for "Watership Down" in children's bookshops, then children's literature is dead" (The Economist, 47). -"Mr. Adams'...has bravely and successfully resurrected the big picaresque adventure story, with moments of such tension that the helplessly involved reader finds himself checking whether things are going to work out all right on the next page before daring to finish the preceding one" (Tucker, 950). American Reviews (1974): American Reviews gave mixed reactions to Watership Down. Many reviewers mentioned the high praise the novel received in London and then either concurred with the acclamation or strongly disagreed. The reviews that were positive included high praise of Richard Adams' vast imagination. American and London reviews commented on his creation of an entire rabbit civilization. An original lapine language appears throughout the novel. Translating words such as "elil" (enemy) and "hrududu" (any motor vehicle) adds a sense of credibility to the rabbits' unique civilization. The rabbits' also have their own mythology and folklore. They believe in a sun god (Frith) and tell stories about El-ahrairah, a legendary folk hero for the rabbits. Critics credited the believability of the characters and their actions in making the book a success. The suspenseful nature of the novel also added to the overall enjoyment of the novel. Many also debated over the intended readership of Watership Down. Most critics agreed that the novel was for older children and adults alike. The negative reviews included comments that the rabbits were too humanistic. They believed that the warrens represented human governments (a democracy and a dictatorship), with human-like religion (the sun god who is the creator of all things) and a lapine language that only includes a few words. A few critics believed that adding an rabbit language but using only a few rabbit "words" trivialized the entire intent of creating a language. An interesting critique two reviewers focused on was the absence of major female characters in the novel. They felt the absence of females prevented the novel from being as good as it could have been. -"Yet, one must note with passing regret that so remarkable a maiden flight of the literary imagination is marred by an attitude toward females that finds more confirmation in Hugh Heffner's Playboy than R.M. Lockley's "The Private Life of the Rabbit" (Lanes). -"Although he humanizes the rabbits enough to make individual characters of them they aren't, as is often the case in kids stories, little people in furry costumes" ( Samuels, 28). -"Believe me, nothing depresses the spirit more than a sententious rabbit...Watership Down is pleasant enough, but it has about the same intellectual firepower as Dumbo...WD is an adventure story, no more than that: rather a swashbuckling, crude one to boot. There are virtuous rabbits and bad rabbits: if that's allegory, Bonanza is an allegory..." (Mano, 406). Overall, the majority of reviewers (in London and America) praised Richard Adams' Watership Down. Many reviews made a favorable comparison to The Wind in the Willows. Most important were the positive comments about the creation of a rabbits' distinct civilization that included their own language and mythology. -"Adams handles his suspenseful narrative more dexterously than most authors who claim to write adventure novels, but his true achievement lies in the consistent, comprehensible and altogether enchanting civilization that he has created" (Prescott, 114). Gilman, Richard. "The Rabbits' Illiad and Odyssey" The New York Times Book Review 24 March. 1974. Gordon, Jan B. "Watership Down." Commonweal 27 Sept. 1974: 528-29. Lanes, Selma G. "Male Chauvinist Rabbits." The New York Times Book Review 30 June 1974. Maddocks, Melvin. "Rabbit Redux." Time 18 March 1974: 92-3. Mano, D. Keith. "Banal Bunnies" National Review 26 April 1974: 406. "Pick of the Warren" The Economist 23 Dec. 1972: 47. Prescott, Peter S. "Rabbit, Read." Newsweek 18 March 1974: 114. Publishers Weekly v205 21 Jan. 1974: 74. Rees, Jenny. "Watership Down and the irresistible rise of Richard Adams" The Times (London) 8 Nov. 1974. Samuels, Charles Thomas. "Call of the Wild." The New Republic 23 March 1974: 28-9. "The burrowers." Times Literary Supplement 8 Dec. 1972. Tucker, Nicholas. "Animal Epic" New Statesman 22 Dec. 1972: 950. Washburn, Martin. "What If?" Village Voice 13 June 1974.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
London Reviews (1972): Reviewed as a children's novel in London, Watership Down received praise from the reviewers who named it an instant classic. Many made the important distinction that Watership Down was a book about rabbits, and not (they stressed), about bunnies. A story about bunnies suggests a cute and fluffy story for nursery age children. Watership Down has more substance than a simple story about bunnies would imply. Adams wrote an adventure novel with real, in-depth characters. The characters are high functioning rabbits that capture the readers interest. The reviewers also commented on how Adams' love of nature and knowledge of the Hampshire/Berkshire countryside added a sense of reality to the novel. Adams' imagination also received a lot of praise. Overall the reviews commended the way he blends fantasy and reality to make a believable and well-developed adventure story. -"If there is no place for "Watership Down" in children's bookshops, then children's literature is dead" (The Economist, 47). -"Mr. Adams'...has bravely and successfully resurrected the big picaresque adventure story, with moments of such tension that the helplessly involved reader finds himself checking whether things are going to work out all right on the next page before daring to finish the preceding one" (Tucker, 950). American Reviews (1974): American Reviews gave mixed reactions to Watership Down. Many reviewers mentioned the high praise the novel received in London and then either concurred with the acclamation or strongly disagreed. The reviews that were positive included high praise of Richard Adams' vast imagination. American and London reviews commented on his creation of an entire rabbit civilization. An original lapine language appears throughout the novel. Translating words such as "elil" (enemy) and "hrududu" (any motor vehicle) adds a sense of credibility to the rabbits' unique civilization. The rabbits' also have their own mythology and folklore. They believe in a sun god (Frith) and tell stories about El-ahrairah, a legendary folk hero for the rabbits. Critics credited the believability of the characters and their actions in making the book a success. The suspenseful nature of the novel also added to the overall enjoyment of the novel. Many also debated over the intended readership of Watership Down. Most critics agreed that the novel was for older children and adults alike. The negative reviews included comments that the rabbits were too humanistic. They believed that the warrens represented human governments (a democracy and a dictatorship), with human-like religion (the sun god who is the creator of all things) and a lapine language that only includes a few words. A few critics believed that adding an rabbit language but using only a few rabbit "words" trivialized the entire intent of creating a language. An interesting critique two reviewers focused on was the absence of major female characters in the novel. They felt the absence of females prevented the novel from being as good as it could have been. -"Yet, one must note with passing regret that so remarkable a maiden flight of the literary imagination is marred by an attitude toward females that finds more confirmation in Hugh Heffner's Playboy than R.M. Lockley's "The Private Life of the Rabbit" (Lanes). -"Although he humanizes the rabbits enough to make individual characters of them they aren't, as is often the case in kids stories, little people in furry costumes" ( Samuels, 28). -"Believe me, nothing depresses the spirit more than a sententious rabbit...Watership Down is pleasant enough, but it has about the same intellectual firepower as Dumbo...WD is an adventure story, no more than that: rather a swashbuckling, crude one to boot. There are virtuous rabbits and bad rabbits: if that's allegory, Bonanza is an allegory..." (Mano, 406). Overall, the majority of reviewers (in London and America) praised Richard Adams' Watership Down. Many reviews made a favorable comparison to The Wind in the Willows. Most important were the positive comments about the creation of a rabbits' distinct civilization that included their own language and mythology. -"Adams handles his suspenseful narrative more dexterously than most authors who claim to write adventure novels, but his true achievement lies in the consistent, comprehensible and altogether enchanting civilization that he has created" (Prescott, 114). Gilman, Richard. "The Rabbits' Illiad and Odyssey" The New York Times Book Review 24 March. 1974. Gordon, Jan B. "Watership Down." Commonweal 27 Sept. 1974: 528-29. Lanes, Selma G. "Male Chauvinist Rabbits." The New York Times Book Review 30 June 1974. Maddocks, Melvin. "Rabbit Redux." Time 18 March 1974: 92-3. Mano, D. Keith. "Banal Bunnies" National Review 26 April 1974: 406. "Pick of the Warren" The Economist 23 Dec. 1972: 47. Prescott, Peter S. "Rabbit, Read." Newsweek 18 March 1974: 114. Publishers Weekly v205 21 Jan. 1974: 74. Rees, Jenny. "Watership Down and the irresistible rise of Richard Adams" The Times (London) 8 Nov. 1974. Samuels, Charles Thomas. "Call of the Wild." The New Republic 23 March 1974: 28-9. "The burrowers." Times Literary Supplement 8 Dec. 1972. Tucker, Nicholas. "Animal Epic" New Statesman 22 Dec. 1972: 950. Washburn, Martin. "What If?" Village Voice 13 June 1974.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
Published in 1972 in England, Watership Down was already labeled as a classic when it came to America. The novel became an instant best-seller in America when it appeared in 1974. London and American reviewers praised the original rabbit civilization created by Richard Adams' rich imagination. The epic quality of the novel recalls the heroic adventures of Odysseus and Aeneas and captivates the reader in a suspenseful story. Watership Down served as an escape for American readers who wanted to leave behind the political upheaval concerning President Nixon and the remaining social and emotional effects of the Vietnam War. Born in Berkshire, England, Richard Adams grew up wandering around the English countryside. The author's descriptive narratives of wildlife reveal his special love of the country and aids in authenticating his story. Homepages on the Internet centered on Watership Down reflect the novel's ongoing popularity. The continuing appeal of Watership Down to readers of all ages explains the novel's lasting popularity. Watership Down was published in America on March 18, 1974. The novel qucikly became a top ten best-seller and by March 25, 1974, it reached number seven. By April 15, 1974, Watership Down reached Number One on Publishers Weekly's Best-Seller List. The book remained the number one best-seller until July 22, 1974. The novel did not permanently drop out of the top ten list until February 10, 1975. Many book reviews praised and criticized Watership Down during the year of its release. After 1974 not many reviews exist on the novel. A few critical essays focus on the epic quality of Watership Down. Most reviews, both positive and negative, also touch on the epic qualities of the novel. Part of the success of the book seems to come from Hazel's heroic adventures. Like The Aeneid and The Odyssey, Watership Down centers on a hero and his followers. The rabbits leave their home warren to strike out on their own and establish a new warren. They also set out to find does and in the process encounter an enemy. The Watership Down rabbits fight battles and use their cleverness to aid their victory. The popularity of Watership Down continues today. Over ten homepages dedicated to the novel exist on the Internet. Not all the homepages are American or English. A Finnish, along with a few other pages in other languages, page also exists. The novel has translations in French, Russian, Italian, Korean, German, Spanish, Polish and Hebrew. The many translations and the diverse hompages exemplify Watership Down's universal appeal to readers everywhere. Some of the homepages discuss the novel, the real Watership Down countryside, and the movie based on the novel. The movie, released in 1978, did not seem to have much of a significant effect on sales of the novel. However, many of the homepages claimed the movie first motivated them to read the book. Short reviews of the book by modern day readers also appear on the Internet. Pages exist where readers can post their personal opinions and thoughts on Watership Down. Published in the United Sates in 1974, contemporary political events of the early seventies might have influenced the Watership Down's initial popularity. Major political upheaval occurred in the United States at that time. The last American troops in Vietnam returned home in early 1973 and the war remained fresh in everyone's minds. The Watergate scandal was also a major event of the time and Nixon resigned in August of 1974. The Vietnam War was an emotional and confusing war. Many Americans did not have a clear idea of who the "good guys" and the "bad guys" were in the war. Without a direct threat to the United States, many Americans did not understand or want to become involved. Broadcast daily on television, the war became known as the "television war." Due to the massive coverage by the media, Americans could not avoid hearing about the war. The general population of the US did not support the war and their opposition caused much social unrest and violence. Watership Down provided an escape to the unresolvable conflicts over the Vietnam War and the resignation of President Nixon. In Watership Down, the Watership Down warren characterizes a democratic government. Hazel acts as Chief Rabbit upon the agreement of all the rabbits of the warren. When the Watership Down warren requires does to ensure their long-term survival, a group of rabbits set out to a neighboring warren. In their attempt to ask the neighboring Efrafa warren to for some of their does, they are held as prisoners. Controlled by General Woundwort, a tyrant who uses torture and oppression to keep his warren subservient, the Efrafa warren symbolizes a corrupt dictatorship. To simplify, Hazel's rabbits manage to escape and the "good" warren and the "bad" warren later engage in battle. Ultimately, the "good" warren wins. Unlike the Vietnam War, the battle between Watership Down and Efrafa does not produce differing opinions among the readers. All readers support Hazel and his warren. The Vietnam War caused heated debate and uncertainty among the American people. Over 58,000 Americans died in the war. Watership Down depicts a small war with little causalities. American readers could lose themselves in a novel that did not cause them to ask the same unanswerable questions or to feel the incredible loss of someone close. Readers, amidst the Watergate scandal, read about the fair and democratic government of Hazel's warren in Watership Down. One of the many book lists where the novel reigned as number one dubbed the book "Watergate Down." Intermixing the scandal with the title of the novel illustrates the public's concern with the politics of the day and the slight connection they made with Watership Down. Reviewers from London and America praised Richard Adams' for the believable civilization he creates for the rabbits of Watership Down. Many made the observation that the author is a master storyteller. The critics admire the vivid imagination Adams' uses to describe the rabbits' adventures. Adams invents a rabbit language, mythology and government. Throughout the novel, the author inserts certain lapine words into the story. For the reader he has placed a "Lapine Glossary" at the end of the book for reference. The subtle use of a language unique to rabbits produces a sense of reality for the reader. The creation of mythology adds a sense of history and connection to all rabbits. The fascinating stories about Frith (the sun god) and El-ahrairah (their folk hero) enthrall the reader and keep the novel interesting. Many reviewers gave positive comments on the battles between the warrens. The critics felt they represent scenes from war movies. Richard Adams has said that he based some of the rabbits' characters on army soldiers he fought with in World War II. Adams' personal knowledge of war helps to make the story suspenseful and keeps the reader turning the page. Richard Adams' love of the countryside appears in his descriptions of Watership Down. One critic explains: "Mr. Adams has so exact a knowledge of the territory he describes, a real piece of downland and common on the Hampshire-Berkshire border, and so profound a knowledge of animal behaviour, that fantasy is contained with the real and not superimposed upon it; he colours and reinforces nature rather than obscuring or concealing ignorance of it". ("Pick of the Warren" 47). Adams grew up in the area he describes in the novel and he spent his childhood walking around the countryside with his father. Reviewers praised Adams for his beautiful descriptions of wildlife that adds reality to the novel. They also compared his descriptive narrative to the classic novel The Wind in the Willows. Many believed Watership Down followed in the tradition of intertwining the characters and the countryside. Adams' combination of rich imagination and love of the country has made Watership Down an enjoyable and believable read. A 1974 Publishers Weekly interview with Richard Adams gives a close look of the author. The interview informs the public that Adams is not as gentle as he might seem from his novel and picture on the inside jacket. Adams "is...feisty, rather pugnacious, with a very keen sense of his own and his book's value, extraordinarily talkative and utterly unsentimental - though at the same time subject to swift tears" (Baker). His great love of English literature and children inspired Adams to write Watership Down. The story of his novel originated during long car rides with his two young daughters. Adams decided to turn his stories into a novel upon the urging of his young daughter Julie. Many critics claimed that the book was too hard and long for children to understand. Resentful of such suggestions, Adams rebuts with fan letters he received from children who read and loved the book. He also appears bitter to how he has "been written about as a domestic tyrant" because of the obedience he expects from his children (Rees). Adams' well known animosity toward the press results from erroneous claims made by the press such as the two previously mentioned. One article about Adams mentioned a new book he was working on that "includes a journalist called Nuggins, ?the man you can't gag'" (Rees). Adams acts very outspoken on the books he writes and insists they do not have hidden political meanings. He acts very private when asked about the money he makes from his novels. In 1985, People Weekly published an article on Richard Adams and his new book Maia. The article discussed a public rumor of an extramarital affair Adams' allegedly had in 1982. Claiming it was ancient history, Adams did not want to talk about the rumor. During a 1974 interview, he became sentimental over the writings of other authors such as Wilfred Owen's "Anthem for Doomed Youth." The summation of Richard Adams' public persona appears in the following quotation: "...despite his sometimes testy surface, Adams is remarkably open to emotion" (Baker). Watership Down appeals to readers of all ages. However, critics debate over the intended audience. The novel succeeded extraordinarily well when released in England as a juvenile novel and when released in America as an adult title. The readers answer the question asked by the reviewers in their letters to editors and personal reviews. A 12 year old boy wrote in response to Richard Gilman's March 24, 1974, review in The New York Times Book Review and said: "I find that it is untrue when R.Gilman says ?I can't imagine many readers under 13 or 14...having the patience and grasp...to persevere to the end of a 426-page epic about a community of rabbits,' as I am 12 and find the book fantastic" (Anthony). Richard Adams once displayed a folder of fan letters during an interview and showed a letter from a child under seven who loved the book. Adults also enjoy the novel. On the Internet there are book reviews of Watership Down by children and adults. Some reviews are by teachers who like the book and said that their students recommended the book to them. Other reviews exist on a page hosted by "Book/Zine Reviews" and include kids in the sixth and seventh grades talking about what they like in the novel. A good example of the inter-generational appeal appears in an April 28, 1974, letter to the editor of The New York Times Book Review. Christie Hochschild described how she read the book aloud to her children. She commented that they all found the book exciting and appreciated how Richard Adams "gets right inside the rabbits. He is so convincing when he writes about them that you are completely absorbed by their world" (Hochschild). Many of the modern day homepages on the Internet mention that the creator of the homepage first fell in love with the book when they were a child. They delighted in the book then and continue to read it over and over today as adults. Watership Down remained on the best-seller list for ten months in 1974/1975 and has stayed a well liked book through today. Richard Adams' love of nature infuses itself into the adventurous story about rabbits. Many factors combine to make Watership Down an unforgettable best-seller. The novel enabled readers to leave political events of the day behind and engross themselves in a grand adventure story. The epic quality of the book continues to captivate the readers of today. Watership Down proves to be an excellent best-seller for readers of all ages. Works Cited: Anthony, Robert W.T. "Letters to the Editor - Watership Down." The New York Times Book Review 28 April 1974. Baker, John F. "Richard Adams." Publishers Weekly v205 15 April 1974. Cooper, Jonathan. "Richard Adams Follows Up Watership Down and Shardik with an Erotic Epic Called Maia." People Weekly v23 11 March 1985: 77-8. "Pick of the Warren" The Economist 23 Dec. 1972: 47.
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