Cock-Robin wrote:That's why I just mentioned it has a twist ending in a general way.
Sorry, I don't get what you mean here, Robin.
"Shardik" sounds worthwhile, I'm mentally adding it to my 'to-read' list.
Cock-Robin wrote:That's why I just mentioned it has a twist ending in a general way.
Rowf - a Labrador highly cynical about the human race - and Snitter – a black and white Jack Russell sold to Animal Research and subjected to brain surgery which dampens his ability to differentiate between subjective experience and objective reality - both escape the lonesome confines of the experimental laboratory they are held in and break out in the countryside of the Lake District region. Roaming the fells, they both fluctuate between the desires to have a master and to go feral, that is to fend for themselves andto brave the conditions which are presented to them.
Interwoven plots - implausible in their content but effective in their delivery - ensure that numerous groups of people are on their trail. A self-seeking journalist wishes to whip up a storm of controversy for higher political means; the local farming community, armed with shotguns and strong Scottish accents, wants to end the dogs they consider to be hounding their sheep; the Animal Research Centre, aware of the perennial delicacy of itself and its need to keep a positive media image, wants its name out of the paper and the dogs forgotten; add to that a further plot surrounding the owner of Snitter – which I won’t refer to as it is the only one with an unpredictable conclusion - and you have a compelling, page-turning novel bound to please children, young readers and animal lovers alike.
It is true that the human characters are types, and appear as cartoonist, reduced versions of human beings. The complexities of human behaviour and personality is not explored and each character has a strict role – with predefined thoughts and action - which renders them as rather one-dimensional. Their actions move seamlessly with the plotting of the novel, there is no natural human conflict as the story unfolds and meanders the mountainous landscapes, and this only compounds the feeling of simplicity which pervades the story. They are like the villains, or the heroes, in an episode of Scooby Do. This is more of an observation than a criticism, as it is clear that a story which starts from the premise of talking animals is not aiming for a hyper real, psychological epic. Indeed, Adams does not real explore the issues which interest him through probing individual thoughts and behaviour but through outlining, explicitly and implicitly, the bonds which connect his literary archetypes.
RowfandSnitter are not only more believable, but are also of greater depth. Although I would not go as far to say Richard Adams captures the raw, animalistic feeling which exists in nonhumans and underneath human consciousness (not many writers can), he does go some way to provide insight into what it is like to be a dog in a world increasingly dominated by human values, and, it must be said, human cruelty. Tod, the red fox who appears one-third into the story and who has an infectious way of thinking, adds an interesting element which was surely intended. Here we have the animal which comes third after the chicken and the cow as the most abused, dismissed and tortured animal at the hands of us humans, next to dogs, one of only two animals the majority of the human race are willing to acknowledge as having any worth. What Adams does is show the reader that the fox and the dog may exhibit slight differences in their behaviour and look, but in fear, pain and sentience they are equals. Throughout the book, a true friendship develops between the three animals, but the Tod ends up being cornered by egged-on hounds, and the unpredictability of the outcome does not lesson its emotional effect. By this stage in the book the reader will either hate or love the fox and his ways, and the unceremonious death of the fox – which Adams leaves deliberately vague to capture the sense of indifference - demands our reflection.
It could be said that Adams communicates in the symbols we understand (words) what all sentient beings, to some degree or other, feel and cannot express due to having no vocal chords, nor the higher intelligence to symbolise their consciousness. In this he tells the reader something which an awful lot of humans need to learn – that no being wants to be experimented on, eaten or hunted. He tries to give a voice to the voiceless, and whether he is effective or not is the individual decision of each reader.
His antivivisection stance is implicit and subtle. I estimate that in total there are 40 or so pages of material relating to the subject, and most of that is matter-of-fact description. This novel does not warrant being considered as one in opposition to animal experimentation, as Adams only tells the reader of the reality (the absurdity) of vivisection and the view of the animals about the practise. His view is not biased, but representative, and I suggest that those reviewers who have accused him of being one-sided should realise that they are in fact being presented with the inescapable, and inevitable, ridiculousness of animal experimentation. This book may be complemented by reading Slaughter of the Innocent, or the excellent Vivisection Unveiled, both of which reveal the scientific futility of the horror Rowf and Snitter were fortunate enough to escape.
The simplicity of the book does mask a complexity. On one hand we have a simple, enjoyable tale for child of all ages, and on the other we have the relationship between man and animal played out on a literary setting; a plea for a less hostile, arrogant and divorced view of nature; and a call for self-reflection. Like all great books, we can either read it whilst tucked in bed with cocoa, or studied it in a library. Irrespective of his method of doing so, in urging us humans to stop treating the world as our ashtray and anything which is not human as worthless, Adams deserves our respect.
- Review by ahahashhah at The Plague Dogs on Amazon.co.uk
Rowf - a Labrador highly cynical about the human race - and Snitter – a black and white Jack Russell
... the local farming community, armed with shotguns and strong Scottish accents ...
page-turning novel bound to please children, young readers and animal lovers alike
add to that a further plot surrounding the owner of Snitter – which I won’t refer to as it is the only one with an unpredictable conclusion
Throughout the book, a true friendship develops between the three animals, but the Tod ends up being cornered by egged-on hounds, and the unpredictability of the outcome does not lesson its emotional effect.
heliona wrote: It was the ending for the dogs, but the story had been told from several people's points of view and Mr Wood had just arrived on the beach with Digby Driver and couldn't see the dogs.
So in that regard, the extra bits didn't surprise me all that much. Especially considering that Richard Adams changing narrative technique mid-way through a chapter even wasn't unusual (after all, he described the Parliamentary meeting in script form; there were various expositions using Digby Driver's articles).
Also, I believe that Rowf and the experiment he underwent was part of the plot. Never before in the book did he enter water (apart from crossing rivers, really) and here, at the end, his true fight began. Snitter had got them there, thanks to his hallucinations, but it was Rowf having to fight his own demon that would save the day in the end. I don't think Richard Adams would be so cruel as to have Rowf die by drowning.
Edited to add that I've just had a quick discussion with Wilko about the ending and he has no recollection of the Colloquy between the Reader and the Author at all, nor the bit full of information regarding Sir Peter Scott. Now my copy is the American version and I know that Hobby's is also. Cock-Robin, is yours the American copy? We don't have Wilko's copy here (which will be the British version) to compare right now, but it's possible that the Colloquy and Biography was added to the American version. (Wilko was adamant that the dogs didn't die, nor was there any hint about it.
Cock-Robin wrote:Oh! That's a wonderful analysis, heliona! I never thought of it as Snitter's thoughts, but it makes sense. I'm puzzling over the words 'reet mazzer,' though. (Greet master? That's my guess.) I've just GOT to find that book again and read it.
Yes, I think you'd just LOVE The Cold Moons if you like badgers. I actually liked it better than Watership Down, not that the other is a bad book, it's great, but Cold Moons is better IMO. Actually I realize I'm comparing apples and oranges, and it may just be personal preference.
I knew I was in for a wonderful story at the opening poem, Perilous Dawn.
Oh, nestling, nestling, are you being born
For your eyes to close and not see the morn?
Oh, nestling, nestling, what can you have done
To return to sleep and not see the sun?
Why do they come to slaughter and ravage?
What have you done to deserve such carnage?
Nowhere to walk or play, you dare not roam,
Yet you cannot stay in this place called home.
Oh, nestling, nestling, have faith to survive,
The morrow you'll find that you're still alive
To seek a haven where man is not seen,
ELYSIA, free and lush, so verdant green.
Time is short, life may soon be extinguished,
ELYSIA you find, or you are finished.
"Reet mazer -- yows --"
Cold. Sinking. Bitter, choking dark.
Sir Peter Scott, despite his well-known ability as a sailor, did not very often put to sea in winter.
heliona wrote:Hobby, I believe we were talking about The Plague Dogs on YM and you mentioned that you had the American edition in reference to some of the tod's language being toned down.
Also, the dogs believe that they are dead and are in doggy heaven. Who's to say that they are not? (Although I suppose the wrapping up of everyone else's storylines would be a bit odd in a doggy heaven.)
So perhaps Adams is playing on the idea that the reader will think that the dogs are dying, when in fact he is going to pluck them from the water at the last possible moment. (Let's face it, all the way through the book, they have escaped by seconds.)
Wilko has just brought his copy of The Plague Dogs back.
So in the British edition, there definitely is no Colloquy and no Sir Peter Scott biography.
Mazer: one who amazes [...] A common term of praise and commendation. E.g., "Yon Raquel Welch - by, mind, she's weel-stacked, a reet mazer!"
truehobbit wrote:So in the British edition, there definitely is no Colloquy and no Sir Peter Scott biography.
Wow. Which raises the question, why is it in the US edition?
Surely, the publishers wouldn't put it in of their own accord, would they?
And if the publisher wanted to add something to change the ending, wouldn't you expect that something to make an ending either clearer or happier?
I simply can't imagine a publisher going to the author saying, hey, we'd like to make the ending of your book really ambiguous and incomprehensible...can you?
So - is there a chance that maybe our Ballantine is the original and it's wilko's Penguin edition that had this part taken out, in order to make the ending unambiguous?
It's not that I don't want the dogs being saved to be the original ending, mind you.
I just find this very mysterious. And completely fascinating.
heliona wrote: The way Wilko's edition reads makes more sense and reads more smoothly that the American edition. I don't know, but I would conclude, just from feeling, that the British version is the original one, and perhaps after comments, Richard Adams decided to change it a wee bit.
(Also, there is actually an Isle of Dogs in the UK. And the island that they were vaguely swimming towards was the Isle of Man, as Rowf unknowingly said. I had a bit of a smile at that bit. I think that might have been just a clever piece of wording by Adams.)
truehobbit wrote:In which case we'd need to find out why he decided that.
Since Richard Adams is 89, unless someone else asks him, we probably won't find out.
hobby wrote:a new movie with your name
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