Friday, June 05, 2015

Green Mansions

I'd seen Green Mansions by W. H. Hudson included on a few "best books" lists, so I added it to my own list. Something about the title and the time period it was written in (1904) made me expect another of the pastoral British comedy of manners that I love so much.  Green Mansions is actually set in the forests of South America--Guyana to be exact.



Abel, the main character, is a young Venezuelan of good family who has to flee his city after becoming involved in political intrigue. He ends up in a native village near a lush forest full of game, of which the villagers have a superstitious fear.  Abel ignores their warnings, visits the forest and meets Rima, the mysterious girl who lives there and speaks in a beautiful bird language that is unintelligible to him.  A love story develops, naturally.

Abel's tale is told as a flashback, so we know from the beginning that there will not be a happy ending. Even knowing that, I was still shocked at the violent conclusion of Abel and Rima's story. Green Mansions is a novel of its time, in its unenlightened descriptions of the natives, who are portrayed as simpleminded, superstitious, and clever only when it comes to killing animals and being duplicitous. I also had to suppress my distaste for a grown man's (he's twenty-three) infatuation with a seventeen year old who is described as childlike.  Ick.  Consider yourself warned.

Green Mansions' plot has a pleasant tension that keeps you wondering what will happen next.  I mostly enjoyed reading it, although at times I rolled my eyes at the sentimentality.  Over the years, many editions were published, some with great pulp fiction covers, which I've shown below.  It was also made into a movie starring Audrey Hepburn and Anthony Perkins.  I suspect it may have been terrible, but what do I know?


Yikes








5 comments:

  1. The first cover is my favorite. I'd read that one. The others? Not so much.
    Why yes, I do judge books by their cover!

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    1. LOL, me too. I don't know what they were thinking with the second one.

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  2. I know I have that sitting on a shelf somewhere but I can't remember if I read it. Maybe partway.

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  3. I absolutely judge a book by its cover. And the size of print. That third cover looks like it could be a vampire story.

    When I was a child, I loved reading my book of Raggedy Ann stories - dolls coming alive, and all. When I had kids of my own, I found my old, old book, and was excited at the thought of reading the stories to my kids. I was horrified to discover how racist some of the character portrayals were. I think I had to throw that book away.

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    1. I loved the Raggedy Ann books too, but thinking back on them, I can see why they've dropped out of sight.

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