Monday, March 28, 2011

Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest

Finished Green Mansions by W. H. Hudson, originally published in 1904. Set in the wilds of South America, it is the story of a Venezuelan man, Abel, who flees his home after participating in an unsuccessful revolution and takes to the forest for refuge. He lives among the Indians there and cultivates a slacker existance until one day he happens upon a forest where none of his Indian companions dares to go. He is teased and led on adventures there by the warbling of an unseen sprite. This sprite is Rima the Bird Girl.

Raised in this wilderness, Rima is one with the forest and all it's creatures. She hates the Indians who hunt and kill the animals of her forest family. The Indians in turn fear her, calling her the Daughter of the Didi. Abel is fascinated by Rima and eventually falls in love with her. Just as his life regains meaning and promise all hope is dashed and he descends into a fearsome tumult of destruction and revenge. Afterwords, his guilt and grief turn him savage. His existence becomes so base that I cringed at his desperate state.

This is a very strange book. I don't want to say more in terms of the plot for fear of spoiling it for anyone. Hudson was a naturalist, born in Argentina and later settling in England. The book was made into comic books as well as film. It appeared on the summer reading list for my high school. Intrigued by the title, I tried to read it back then, but found it uninteresting. It seemed an easy read this time, but again, a very strange book. I'll let you form your own opinions of Hudson's use of the name Abel.

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