Why Watership Down belongs alongside Narnia and Middle-Earth
Among the many artists we lost in 2016, the one who influenced me the most passed away on Christmas Eve. Without his imagination, I might have lived a very different life.
The great Richard Adams, who died on Dec. 24 at the age of 96, first imagined Watership Down as a way to entertain his daughters during a road trip. The narrative grew into a novel beloved by generations and influential in countless creative works (including my own fantasy series).
Whenever I open my timeworn copy, I’m reminded of why it has commanded my attention since I was 10. It was so much more frightening, dire, and — for lack of a better word — realistic than anything else I’d read. While Watership Down is a story of talking rabbits, it isn’t a cute nursery story about bunnies. It’s a substantial literary achievement, one as rich in philosophical and political subtext as it is thick with literary allusions. It deserves serious critical attention, including theological exegesis.
Today, in my first appearance at Think Christian (thanks to Josh Larsen for the invitation), I make my case for Watership Down’s spiritual significance, arguing that it belongs alongside The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia as an essential example of fantasy’s capacity for speaking to us about things true, sublime, and eternal.