Mar 2, 2016

The Story of a Red-Deer

by J.W. Fortescue

It is the life of a red deer on the Exmoor. Very similar in many ways to the original Bambi- the deer grows up, meets other animals around him -the pitiable birds, traveling salmon, shuffling badger, bloodthirsty weasel, wily fox and so on. Very soon he learns to fear and avoid hounds, where to find safety and how to confuse them off his track. The deer followed through the story acts like all his kind, admiring the older males and proud of his antlers when they finally grow in, chasing the females when it is his time, battling other stags, crossing the landscape endlessly to find shelter from the weather and safety from hunters or just companionship when he desires it. The description of forest, valleys and high bare moorland is pretty good, it kept me interested. While the animals talk and live in a strict arrangement of upper- and lower-classes, most of the writing is just about their way of life, not so much personality as I found in Felix Salten's work. I think the most interesting contrasts came up when the pheasant scorned an invasive chinese bird that populated the area, and when the red deer met fallow deer which lived in paddocks and were fed by man. It was also interesting to see how the deer took up with an older stag to learn some wisdom of the woods, and when he became old in his turn, acted just as haughty and selfish (often turning other deer out of their beds to make them run before the hounds and save his own skin). In the end he was run so hard by a pack that he fell exhausted into a river and drowned. The ending did not feel sad, though- the deer seemed to have lived a full life.

I found this book in an antique shop.

Rating: 3/5       144 pages, 1904

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