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The writing, publication and literary context of "Watership Down".

Bridgman, Joan Helen; (1990) The writing, publication and literary context of "Watership Down". Doctoral thesis (Ph.D.), University College London. Green open access

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Abstract

My thesis is that the remarkable success of this novel lies in the universal appeal of its underlying theme of the individual's search for security and in its integration of the elements of epic, fable, pastoral and myth. Part One deals with the publishing history of the novel. The first chapter relates it to its date of composition and the author's critique of the 1960's. The process of the novel's composition is described with reference to the holograph. This provides evidence of the spontaneity of its invention and the revisions necessary to shape the original oral tale into a novel. Chapter Two deals with the vicissitudes of its progress to publication and its critical reception in England in 1972. Chapter Three examines American publication where the novel moved into adult readership and where an intensive promotional campaign launched it into being a phenomenal international bestseller. In Part Two the thesis turns to a wider discussion of the book's theme and literary context beginning in Chapter Four with an examination of the theme of authority and the ideal society contrasted with three dystopias. Chapter Five considers the quest theme and Adams's use of classical models. Chapter Six discusses the traditional beast fable and Adams's place in the genre of anthropomorphic fantasy. Chapter Seven examines the novel's double view of the pastoral where the countryside is seen both as Arcadian refuge and as territory to be colonised, owned and defended, which is currently ecologically threatened. The novel's use of animal heroes made a contribution to, and continues to foster, the growing 'animal rights' movement. Chapter Eight discusses the novel's connections with the archetypes of myth and folktale, its use of Campbell's pattern of the monomyth, the emergence of the theme of fertility and the search for control in the ogre-father figure of Woundwort. Finally the thesis deals with the novel's inner purpose: the integration of the individual within himself, with his community and with the archetypal or transcendental world.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D.
Title: The writing, publication and literary context of "Watership Down".
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by Proquest
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10108250
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