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Progymnasmata

Book Review: The Plague Dogs

Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.
This post was also made in the Book Reviews forum of this site.

Famous for authoring Watership Down, Richard Adams' The Plague Dogs rivals its more widely-read big brother in storytelling, thematic development, and playful sophistication.

Just as mythology (and the telling of stories) supports the narrative of Watership Down, linguistic dialect (that of the English lake country) structures the confusion and flight of the dogs Rowf and Snitter from an animal experimentation center.

In their journey they face multiple adjustments, a variety of captivities, and the reality that the greatest prison is undirected freedom.

The story is primarily Snitter's (a fox terrier) whose brain has been surgically altered so that he mingles reality and fantasy and Rowf's (a mutt) who has lived as stray. The secondary character is "the tod", a fox who helps the dogs by having them help himself.

The novel playfully investigates our ideas of captive and wild. And it is outright didactic in its distaste for animal cruelty. But, should you be skeptical of this theme, the novel is not PETA porn. Shepherds, sheep dogs, domestic animals, meat, and hunting are all treated with sympathy and understanding of their right and proper order in our life and society. Adams just takes aim at those practices that need to be good and dead.

But the novel can be enjoyed an many more levels than this single political issue. The Plague Dogs is a poignant, harrowing, and honest story about those who inhabit the intersections of the lake country landscape (lots of hand-drawn maps!) and its language.

9/10 howls at the moon

Updated 06-26-2010 at 10:48 PM by The Comedian

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Comments

  1. applepie's Avatar
    You read the most interesting sounding stories :)