London: Rex Collings, 1972. First Edition. Hardcover. 1st edition of his first novel, preceding the undated, but 1974, American edition. 4 light stains to the blank endpapers else fine in fine dustjacket (that means no flaws to the jacket of any size or type), fresher than a peppermint snow cone, brighter than optimism, and tighter than the bond between stupidity and spite. Fine / Fine. Item #414
Check your airbags on books of this vintage, because crashes are coming on many of relative value; given that most popular novels historically slide off the radar, out of print and into the black hole of the uncollectible. Not so Watership Down, a naturalistic beast fable of imposing scholarship and enviable ingenuity that drew on epic themes from Homer and Virgil. It was unlike any book written before it (or since) and will overcome the hex of being a number 1 bestseller, as 48 years later, with 50 million copies sold, it’s still being read for recreation (the only objective test of a novel’s classic stature) and is now entrenched in grade school libraries where it’s force fed as a monument to each new generation of readers.
The 1970s were the ‘me’ decade, with everyday activities spiraled up in therapy so as to have ontological magnitude, and a generation was nurtured on the refrain, it’s not your fault. And though the era has been trashed as a weak decade for fiction, there were some demi–triumphs. Carve up a list of English language novels still being avidly consumed by readers not even born in 1972, and alongside of Watership Down, said list will showcase The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Fear of Flying, The Killer Angels, The Crystal Cave, In Patagonia, The Dispossessed, The Optimist’s Daughter, The Princess Bride, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Day of the Jackal, Gravity’s Rainbow, Breakfast of Champions, Going After Cacciato, The World According to Garp, A Morbid Taste for Bones, A River Runs Through It, Nine Princes in Amber, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Interview With a Vampire, The Silmarillion, The Bluest Eye, The Right Stuff, The Stand, Humbolt’s Gift, Sophie’s Choice, The Exorcist, Star Wars, Centennial, Suttree, Shogun, Ragtime, Roots, Crash, Jaws, and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Are there others? There are. I’ve only picked one by each author, and we all have our other favorites. Go ahead and add your own preciouses, then we can watch together as perspective shapes that list over the years (certainly shrinks that list, because that’s what happens). So, which of these novels, if any, will persevere? Everybody guesses. Nobody knows. It is a paradox. It is Schrödinger’s Cat.
Tell me the decade you love (or hate) and I’ll tell you who you are.