0291 | Tarka the Otter – Henry Williamson

0291 | Tarka the Otter - Henry Williamson

Context: Read this each night as I lay down to sleep under our mosquito net in the village.

REVIEW

What a beautiful book to have read in a place so far removed from the setting of Tarka the Otter. The village of Male on the Rai Coast of Papua New Guinea has no rivers like that of Devon. No autumn leaves stain them brown. Nor do the rivers here freeze in winter. There are no moors, and the coast does not echo to the cry of gulls.

This book was therefore a perfect read for my time in Male because, by reading it, I could escape the constant heat and humidity, attempt to ignore the raucous sounds of village life and, let’s be honest, try to forget I was living in a house with no furniture, no electricity and no running water. In fact, I was back as close to Henry Williamson’s living context when he wrote this as I could have been.

The tale has a Hardyesque nature about it with its beautiful descriptions of English countryside. But instead of an exploration of the depths of the human soul, we are portrayed as very shallow in this attempt to depict the nobility of the nature we live in.

The scenes of otter hunting are quite traumatic. However, there’s enough in the book to help me understand that man shares with the otter the desire to kill for sport alone. I honestly didn’t think I’d enjoy this but I found it captivating from beginning to end.

Walden isn’t a patch on this. Ruskin would be proud.

OPENING LINE

Twilight over meadow and water, the eve-star shining above the hill, and Old Nog the heron crying Kra a aark! as his slow dark wings carried him down to the estuary.

CLOSING LINE

And while they stood there silently, a great bubble rose out of the depths and broke, and as they watched, another bubble shook the surface and broke, and there was a third bubble in the sea-going waters, and nothing more.

RATING

tarka

Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement Read more about how I come up with my ratings

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: