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  #21  
Old 09 December 2018, 05:46 PM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
 
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Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
-- if that insult is what I'm reading it as, that wouldn't be an insult in Rabbit.
I've not read it for years, but I remember Adams being pretty clear (as are rabbits, apparently) about the difference between the "first" droppings - which they eat again, so that they pass twice through the digestive system, and which still contain nutrients - and the "second" (or later) droppings, which have all the nutrients extracted and which are the equivalent of shit to us, and which they don't eat. As far as I remember there were different words for each of those types, or at least a clear discussion about it, and the insult would have referred to the shittier kind of shit. At least, I've known that fact about rabbits ever since I can remember, and I can't think where else I'd have got it from but Watership Down.

You're right that they behave like humans in that they have recognisable conversations that refer to concepts that have equivalents that human readers can recognise, including lots of abstract planning, though, and real rabbits probably don't.

But then a novel where all the characters were actual real rabbits, and any recorded thought was equivalent to what an actual rabbit might think, would probably be quite dull. It would be quite hard for a human to write any internal monologues for it at all, so to avoid your criticism it would have to be entirely based on the observed behaviour of a bunch of rabbits doing what rabbits do, but with a narrative attached rather than any sort of pattern analysis. Unless the narrative counted all the times each rabbit did each thing, I suppose. But we're getting into serious avant-garde territory here.
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  #22  
Old 09 December 2018, 11:15 PM
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a novel where all the characters were actual real rabbits, and any recorded thought was equivalent to what an actual rabbit might think, would probably be quite dull. It would be quite hard for a human to write any internal monologues for it at all, so to avoid your criticism it would have to be entirely based on the observed behaviour of a bunch of rabbits doing what rabbits do, but with a narrative attached rather than any sort of pattern analysis. Unless the narrative counted all the times each rabbit did each thing, I suppose. But we're getting into serious avant-garde territory here.
Terry Pratchett pulled off something very like it with rats.

His rats were magically enhanced, which accounted for a greater range of likely conversational ability; but they were still rats.

It's true that my attempts at Watership took place years before I discovered Pratchett, though; and I might have changed in the meantime -- though I'd certainly much earlier in my life run into talking fictional animals I didn't have that problem with. It seemed to me that it wasn't just that the Watership rabbits were having conversations and inner thoughts about their motivations, and so on, but that their motivations were ones that humans would have bbut that rabbits wouldn't. But maybe I'll give it another try sometime -- as I said, my memory of what I did read of it is pretty blurry.

-- let's see. There's a talking cat in Girl Genius who I like just fine. He's also modified -- by Science! though the science in Girl Genius is, um, rather magical a lot of the time -- but while this has significantly improved not only his vocabulary but also his planning ability, he still strikes me as having feline-type motivations, if at some points rather caricatured ones.

But I can't stand Garfield. Garfield is nothing like a cat at all.
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  #23  
Old 11 December 2018, 08:49 PM
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(eta) Despite the man in the bookshop recognising that it was "not a children's book" I've just read the Wikipedia article and it seems that all the reviewers at the time made the false connection that rabbits = children's book, too. Or maybe they were just embarrassed to like it. Anyway, children's book or not, I read it and really liked it when I was six. I still have that copy...
... And in fact I was in a bookshop today and saw an edition of it that was in the children's section and explicitly bound as a children's book.
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  #24  
Old 12 December 2018, 01:03 PM
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Blatherskite Blatherskite is offline
 
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The novel started out as a story Richard Adams told his kids during long car journeys, so it was at least originally intended to be for children.

The thing is, just because something is for children doesn't mean it's only for children or that it's for children of all ages. What a ten year old can understand and enjoy is often very different to what's suitable for a five year old.

Unfortunately we don't really have a category for 'older children to adults'. The best we can do is 'young adult'.

(Why are there far more anthropomorphic animals in children's fiction than in adult's fiction anyway? How did we end up with the idea that identifying with animals is childish?)
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Old 12 December 2018, 01:42 PM
Sooeygun Sooeygun is offline
 
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The thing is, just because something is for children doesn't mean it's only for children or that it's for children of all ages. What a ten year old can understand and enjoy is often very different to what's suitable for a five year old.
And even different children of the same/similar age can have different reactions. A friend's older daughter is very sensitive to scary stuff and they have to be more careful of what she watches. But her younger (by 2 years) sister can watch the same scary scenes and she's fine.
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