This year I am continuing to join in with #Book Snap Sunday, hosted by Sharon at Gum Trees and Galaxies. Watership Down by Richard Adams was first published in 1972 and is described as …
a remarkable tale of exile and survival, of heroism and leadership, the epic novel of a group of adventurers who desert their doomed city, and venture forth against all odds on a quest for a new home, a sturdier future.
This group of intrepid adventurers are, of course, rabbits and their doomed city is a warren destined to be destroyed because it was in the way of a new housing estate.
“There’s terrible evil in the world. It comes from men,…Men will never rest till they’ve spoiled the earth and destroyed the animals.”
The destruction of the warren is harrowing. Escape routes are blocked. Poison gas is pumped into the warren and those who manage to escape are shot. The natural world pays a heavy price for human progress.
The band of rabbits are unlikely heroes. “To rabbits, everything unknown is dangerous. The first reaction is to startle, the second to bolt.”
However, on their journey to find a new home, the rabbits make unexpected friends, discover different ways of social organisation and learn to “become warier, shrewder, a tenacious band who understood each other and worked together.”
Watership Down is not just a story about rabbits. Decades after its first publication it asks us to reflect on the cost of progress at any price and the kind of society we really wish to be.