The Rabbit Genius

Quotes from Richard Adams’ Watership Down:

Adams’ classic children’s fiction is a rich metaphor of human life. I honestly feel very inarticulate right now, but here are some good quotes I have managed to take note from the entertaining and semi-philosophical read:

On Art:

They found out other marvelous arts to take the place of tricks and old stories.

And since they could not bear the truth, these singers, who might in some other place have been wise, were squeezed under the terrible weight of the warren’s secret until they gulped out fine folly – about dignity and acquiescence, and anything else that could make believe that the rabbit loved the shining wire.

On Home:

..but the exhausted and those who wander in strange country are not particular about their quarters.

On Ingenuity:

Exactly. Don’t you see, they’d altered what rabbits do naturally because they thought they could do better?

On Expectation:

I don’t know what I’d been expecting. You know how you let yourself think that everything will be all right if you can only get to a certain place or do a certain thing.

When Marco Polo came at last to Cathay, seven hundred years ago, did he not feel – and did his heart not falter as he realized – that this great and splendid capital of an empire had had its being all the years of his life and far longer, and that he had been ignorant of it? That it was in need of nothing from him, from Venice, from Europe? That is was full of wonders beyond his understanding? That his arrival was a matter of no importance whatever? We know that he felt these things, and so has many a traveler in foreign parts who did not know what he was going to find. There is nothing that cuts you down to size like coming to some strange and marvelous place where no one even stops to notice that you stare about you.

On Persistence and a Sense of Presence:

Rabbits (says Mr Lockley) are like human beings in many ways. One of these is certainly their staunch ability to withstand disaster and to let the stream of their life carry them along, past reaches of terror and loss. They have a certain quality which it would not be accurate to describe as callousness or indifference. It is, rather, a blessed circumscribed imagination and an intuitive feeling that Life is Now.

On the Subtlety of Beauty and Moments:

We do not take moonlight for granted. It is like snow, or like the dew on a July morning. It does not reveal but changes what it covers. And its low intensity – so much lower than that of daylight – makes us conscious that it is something added to the down, to give it, for only a little time, a singular and marvelous quality that we should admire while we can, for soon it will be gone again.

On Hopelessness, Death:

A wild animal that feels that it no longer has any reason to live, reaches in the end a point when its remaining energies may actually be directed towards dying.


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