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Tarka the Otter (1927)

Tekijä: Henry Williamson

Muut tekijät: Katso muut tekijät -osio.

Sarjat: The Henry Williamson Animal Saga (Book 1)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
8481524,114 (3.71)100
Tarka the otter pursues an active life, sometimes playful and sometimes dangerous, in the Devonshire countryside.

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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 15) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
Super-dense prose, unrelenting in its exact description. Many things happen, but they're mostly the same things over and over. Admirable writing, but also lots of work required from the reader. I can't imagine what people who don't see pictures in their heads would make of this book. ( )
  judeprufrock | Jul 4, 2023 |
"Pity acts through the imagination, the higher light of the world, and imagination arises from the world of things, as a rainbow from the sun."

Starting with his birth, the book takes us almost day by day through Tarka's life — learning to swim and fish, wrestling and sliding down riverbanks with his sisters and mother, before heading off alone to find himself a mate, around the estuaries of Devon.

This is one of the best known nature novels but its not a sanitised Disneyesque nature. There is beauty is everywhere but there is also danger everywhere. Everything tries to eat everything else and the local farmers and water-bailiffs hunt otters, which they see as vermin. The sub-title of the novel, 'His Joyful Water-Life and Death' , tells us what the inevitable ending will be but beforehand gives a highly realistic insight into an otter’s life, its joys and perils. Williamson spent years tramping the riverways of Devon studying otters so whilst this is fiction its based on fact and close observation.

The writing is beautiful, in particular when Tarka was in the water, I could almost visualise it. Its sometime easy to think of otters as cute fish eating creatures but we mustn't forget that they are carnivores that will eat birds, frogs and other mammals as well. The book was first published in 1927 and thankfully attitudes have changed and despite the ending is neither sad nor depressing. It's a classic for a reason. My only real grumble was the constant use of local slang for many of the creatures that featured, whilst he initially tells us what the proper name is when they reoccurred later on I had forgotten it. The glossary could have been more expansive I felt.

“Time flowed with the sunlight of the still green place. The summer drake-flies, whose wings were as the most delicate transparent leaves, hatched from their cases on the water and danced over the shadowed surface.” ( )
  PilgrimJess | Apr 23, 2023 |
Classic fiction, otters ( )
  sbodmer | Jan 5, 2023 |
This is the most uncompromisingly "animal" of all animal stories, more like a TV nature documentary than a novel. On the one hand, the writing itself is as beautiful as the place it describes: north Devon with its deep wooded valleys and rich farmland, its high moors where wild ponies graze under huge skies, its headland-fringed coast with the tallest sea-cliffs anywhere in England, are lovingly described by a Londoner who came to know every inch of it. But on the other hand, there's no moral, no "lesson", just life in the raw the way it really is for a wild animal: cubs, parents and mates disappear from the narrative and are simply never mentioned again.
   It's not a book about hunting. None of its otters die of disease or old age, most are killed and most of those by people - by the otter-hunt, or in gin-traps, or cornered and battered to death as "vermin"; yet Williamson's own attitude was to some extent contradictory. He admired the huntsmen themselves for their knowledge of otters and of Nature in general - he got to know them and followed the hunt himself; but in Tarka he also managed to get down on paper, better than almost anyone else I've read, the numbed outrage I feel at senseless cruelty to animals.
   Environmental campaigners such as Rachel Carson have taken inspiration from this book - and, for all I know, Tarka may even have helped to save the otter itself because much has happened since 1927 when it was written. Their numbers declined for decades until otters finally disappeared completely from most of England in the 1960s (due as much to pesticides running into rivers as to hunting) and they even made it into the Red Book as "vulnerable to extinction". But then in 1978 hunting was banned, and in 1981 the landmark Wildlife and Countryside Act was passed into law, with otters as one of the first animals to come under its protection. These days they're making a comeback and the future looks bright.
   Tarka isn't really about all that either though, neither about hunting nor conservation; in fact just for once, refreshingly, here we have a novel which isn't about us at all - and I think maybe that at least partly explains its enduring appeal. It's a story in which humans are peripheral figures, absent altogether for much of the time and only periodically erupting into Tarka's life like just another incomprehensible destructive phenomenon, like storms, like bad luck, like winter. And in the interludes we get glimpses of a different Earth (my favourite passage in the book: Tarka and a raven playing together), the way it must have been throughout almost all its history: no "moral", no "point" to it all, just life. ( )
  justlurking | Jul 4, 2021 |
It's the life of a river otter, though the animal does spend some time on the edge of the sea as well. It's mostly the otter's rovings, endlessly going up and down waterways, chasing fish with delight and wondrous dexterity, fiercely driving others off his food one moment, playing with them the next. It depicts the otters as very gregarious and friendly to their own kind, while driven off and hunted with dogs by men (the fishermen view them as competition and vermin). Very specific to a place- around the Taw river in North Devon. Detailed descriptions of the animal life, plants, weather, lay of the land etc- and specific local dialect when the otter encounters man. I liked this as it gives a real sense of place, but had to refer to the glossary a few times, which oddly isn't in alphabetical order but it's not long so easy enough to find a word. I didn't know before how avidly otters were once hunted with dogs and guns. From the wild animal's perspective it sounds terrifying, to be harassed by the hounds even to death- which is how this otter finally meets his end. Not without pulling a dog down with him. I think what stands out most vividly to me through this reading was how fluidly the otter moves through the water, using the course of rivers and streams to his advantage.

more at the Dogear Diary ( )
  jeane | Dec 23, 2020 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 15) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
ei arvosteluja | lisää arvostelu

» Lisää muita tekijöitä (12 mahdollista)

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Henry Williamsonensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetlaskettu
Tunnicliffe, C. F.Kuvittajamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Sinun täytyy kirjautua sisään voidaksesi muokata Yhteistä tietoa
Katso lisäohjeita Common Knowledge -sivuilta (englanniksi).
Teoksen kanoninen nimi
Alkuteoksen nimi
Teoksen muut nimet
Alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi
Tiedot englanninkielisestä Yhteisestä tiedosta. Muokkaa kotoistaaksesi se omalle kielellesi.
Tärkeät paikat
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Tärkeät tapahtumat
Kirjaan liittyvät elokuvat
Palkinnot ja kunnianosoitukset
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Epigrafi (motto tai mietelause kirjan alussa)
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Ensimmäiset sanat
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Twilight over meadow and water, the eve-star shining above the hill, and Old Nog the heron crying kra-a-ark! as his slow dark wings carried him down to the estuary.
Viimeiset sanat
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(Napsauta nähdäksesi. Varoitus: voi sisältää juonipaljastuksia)
Kirjan kehujat
Alkuteoksen kieli
Kanoninen DDC/MDS
Kanoninen LCC

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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (1)

Tarka the otter pursues an active life, sometimes playful and sometimes dangerous, in the Devonshire countryside.

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Keskiarvo: (3.71)
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