Fifteen Rabbits By Felix Salten

    Being a fan of Felix’s two other books Bambi and Bambi’s children I was interested to read this one. It ever so briefly mentions characters from Bambi. And it was nice, sort of a bonus story if you like; of the animals of Bambi’s forest. I’d probably say it’s a little dark and while it says it’s for 8-12 year olds I’d probably wait till alittle older, and comfortable in the subject of life and natural order. Overall I’d give it a 4/5 218 Read May 2018 218 This didn't resonate with me the same way Bambi did, but it was still cool to read the sort of precursor to Watership Down. 218 The only work by Felix Salten I had read before was Bambi, which has always been one of my favourite books, so I figured it was time to read some of his other books.

    Fifteen Rabbits has a similar style to Bambi. It shows the beauty of nature, but also the inate cruelty of it. Like Bambi, its pretty dark at times and it is certainly not a fun bunny book to read to your children. There is a lot of death. It can make you feel sad, but it never gets overly emotional. It is just the way nature works.

    I must address the translation. It is not the best. In German the translation for both hare and rabbit is hase. In the translation it refers to our main characters Hops and Plana as rabbits, but to Hops’ mother as a hare. Also, the deer in the story are referred to as elk, whilst in fact they would be red deer, as Salten would have been writing about European fauna.

    Both Bambi and Faline get a cameo in the book, which was kind of fun.

    I feel this story about some rabbits living in a forest throughout the seasons for the first time misses some of the magic of Bambi, but I did enjoy it and I am glad I read it. 218 It wasn't until I started reading this that I realised it was written by the same man that brought Bambi into the world (I still have the emotional scars from those childhood moments!) and once again Salten is not shy about the realities of the natural world and man's ever increasing impact on it. The story, of course, starts on a bright carefree summer's day as 15 young rabbits are foraging in an open glade. Then, all too quickly, reality breaks their bliss and man makes his noisy and deadly entrance. From then on, the young friends have more than each other to compete and battle against as they get to grips with the dangers of the forest and the risk that even the younger members of humanity poises (let's hope many such youngsters have learnt from this). That being said, this is still a heart-warming story as friendships are forged and the young bunnies reach adulthood and discover that there is more to life than fear alone. 218


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    Hops and his young rabbit friends must face all the triumphs and trials in the first year of life in the woods.

    Life is dangerous in the forest, especially for the fifteen young rabbits who are learning to navigate their home. While there are many wonderful things and other animals to get to know - including a deer by the name of Bambi - there are also dangers, and the constant threat of man. In order to thrive, the rabbits must stick together... Fifteen Rabbits

    Written by the author of 'Bambi' I knew I'd want to read this new edition as soon as I saw it on the shelves at the bookstore. I adore animal fiction, especially if it's similar to 'The Animals of Farthing Wood' or 'Watership Down'. This had elements of both, although there was very little consistent story about it. There was just life, not really a story, and all the little random events that make up life.

    Probably the strangest thing about this book is how little the rabbits seem to resemble rabbits- they slept in a thicket, not underground, and paired off in twos or threes instead of a warren. In fact, they are often referred to as 'hares', but the title says 'Fifteen rabbits' so they have to be rabbits, right? They kind of gave the impression of both. Oh well.

    A quick read, but not a children's book unless you want to explain the numerous bunny corpses. Three stars. 218 Edit 14/01/2021
    I'm a fool. Felix Salten was Jewish! The ruthless libertarian world that he portrayed was a refraction of his own lived reality, a Europe increasingly anti-Semitic through which cunning became a necessity to survival. No wonder every opportunity for pleasure is cut short until all that is left is fear and trembling.

    Ugh. This is what happens when I fail to materially situate my consumption.

    I need to reflect on this.

    I'm going to leave my original review below for now. You can parse it however you like with the new information. (Something something fascist creep.)


    The slow catastrophe of living. Probably still my favourite libertarian author; despite his vulgar Darwinism, he permits joy to arise in strange stutters across his world. He also has a lot of sympathy for the aberrant lifeforms that resist (his construction of) nature's war of all against all. In such a way, he provides alluring counterpoints to the very ontology he constructs; the way the birds, foxes, deer and rabbits rely on one another's warning calls to escape threats; the way an old, beat-up, domesticated dog will welcome the company of a young, beat-up, feral rabbit; and the way the humans are portrayed as demonic beings, whose most loving acts towards the feral animals are experienced, by the animals, as abject terror.

    Unfortunately, a lot of this is already covered in Bambi, and with less sentimentality and death fixation. What was so powerful in Bambi was how indifferent the world felt; that no matter the pleasure or pain, everything moved onwards. Neither death nor life were elevated, everything was simply a process of estrangement and becoming. In Fifteen Rabbits, death and terror are privileged. There is less time for the characters to simply be and to become otherwise beyond the choke of dread.

    One of my favourite parts, nonetheless, is Hop (the protagonist bun bun) philosophising in the middle of winter, about how if all the herbivores came together, they'd be able to fight off the carnivores. One starts to think that Salten is less a morose libertarian, and more a resigned socialist. . . . 218 This is a beautiful little book primarily about the first year of life of a few rabbits. I guess if I counted all the rabbits in the book, I would find there are fifteen. We see the forest, the changing seasons, and all of the wonders of life, including man, through their eyes. The rabbits and other animals in the forest talk. That sounds childish and silly, but it works. They don't talk like we talk, but rather talk as one would expect rabbits would think and converse. The author definately knows nature and has captured the essence of these creatures. The book is full of joy and heartache. Life in the forest is dangerous, especially for rabbits, and the book deals with death in a sobering way. The book is short (only about 200 pages), but it is delightful. Felix Salten wrote one other famous book that we've all heard of - Bambi - A Life in the Woods. Walt Disney then turned the book into the movie, Bambi. 218 Their destiny as rabbits was written in the expressions they unconsciously assumed. In the care-laden attitudes into which they unintentionally fell, during that rare pause, was expressed all the century-old sorrow of the perpetually hunted.

    Fifteen Rabbits by Felix Salten, creator of the beloved Bambi, is not a sweet little story about a bunch of cute bunnies romping in the woods together. Do not read this story to the little ones before bed! Rather, it is a mostly bleak and realistic picture of what it is like to grow up as one of nature’s gentler creatures in a world that constantly threatens them with harm from man, the danger of other predators, and the menace of starvation. The story revolves around a group of young rabbits’ interactions with one another and their glimpses at the surrounding wildlife, including various birds, pheasants, deer and elk. No animal is safe from man and his weapons; there are many instances of death which are often disturbing and sad.

    So, why read this book then? Well, for one, I think the author meant to send an important message regarding man and his mistreatment and misunderstanding of animals. They were from two absolutely alien worlds, and there was no bridge from one to the other. Also, the descriptions of the animals, the woods, the meadow, and even the songs of the birds were quite lovely. The rabbits do experience some carefree moments of happiness and love. There is also a heartwarming scene between a dog and a rabbit, as well as a brief appearance by the now-matured and stately Bambi.
    218 This is an odd little book by the author of Bambi. I think it was first published in 1920. It felt that way while reading it. It took me a long time to get through it even though it was very short. I think because I had a lot of other more exciting reading going on and it's a bit depressing. It was a challenge book, so I'm glad I read it. I'm still trying to figure out the intended audience. Although it is easy reading, the life and death struggle of the rabbits seems very raw. It is basically the story of a bunch of fictional rabbits, told in a real life setting. They way they move and eat and sleep and survive are all as real rabbits would do. The relationships are the only part that is really fictional. The dangers from other animals and humans are what actual rabbits face. I'm sure I will think of this the next time I see a wild rabbit in my yard. 218