Anthropomorphism in literature

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Anthropomorphism in literature most commonly occurs when human characteristics are attributed to animals. As a literary device, anthropomorphism is strongly associated with art and storytelling with most cultures possessing a long-standing fable tradition with anthropomorphised animals as characters that can stand as commonly recognised types of human behaviour. Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), Carlo Collodi's The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883) and The Jungle Book (1894) by Rudyard Kipling are good examples of 19th century literature that all employed anthropomorphic elements. Notable examples of more modern times are Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows (1908), A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh (1926), C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950), George Orwell's Animal Farm (1945) and William Horwood's Duncton Wood (1980).

Our recommended trilogies/series
The Duncton Chronicles by William Horwood
The Duncton Chronicles

Duncton Wood is the moving love story of Bracken and Rebecca and the trials they must face and overcome to be as one. It is unfortunate that this work must be compared to Watership Down but that is the only book with which I can really compare it to in terms of story-line and excellence. This book is about moles and unlike anything you have ever read before. The animal kingdom is savage and survival of the fittest is a fact of life (or death). This is a book for adults and is at times as dark as it is uplifting. The book was first published in 1980 and has since become a best-selling novel. A story of courage, loyalty and the power of love... inspired by the shadows and light of England's most beautiful countryside.

"An absolute spell-binder, by Lord of the Rings out of Watership Down. I found it enchanting, compulsive reading... I am still haunted by its beauty." Magnus Magnusson

"Duncton Wood is a truly breathtaking and enchanting read that reminds us how savage yet full of love the animal kingdom truly is." Fantasy Book Review

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Our recommended stand-alone books
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The Wind in the Willows

Since its first publication in 1908, generations of adults and children have cherished Kenneth Grahame's classic, The Wind in the Willows. For in this entrancing, lyrical world of gurgling rivers and whispering reeds live four of the wisest, wittiest, noblest, and most lovable creatures in all literature—Rat, Mole, Badger, and Toad of Toad Hall. Like true adventurers, they glory in life's simplest pleasures and natural wonders. But it is Toad, cocky and irrepressible in his goggles and overcoat, whose passion for motorcars represents the free and fearless spirit in all of us; just as it's Toad's downfall that inspires the others to test Grahame's most precious theme—the miracle of loyalty and friendship.

"One can argue over the merits of most books, and in arguing understand the point of view of one's opponent. One may even come to the conclusion that possibly he is right after all. One does not argue about The Wind in the Willows. The young man gives it to the girl with whom he is in love, and if she does not like it, asks her to return his letters. The older man tries it on his nephew, and alters his will accordingly. The book is a test of character. We can't criticise it, because it is criticising us. It is a Household Book; a book which everybody in the household loves, and quotes continually; a book which is read aloud to every guest and is regarded as the touchstone of his worth. But I must give you one word of warning. When you sit down to it, don't be so ridiculous as to suppose that you are sitting in judgement of my taste, or on the art of Kenneth Grahame. You are merely sitting in judgement on yourself. You may be worthy: I don't know. But it is you who are on trial." A.A. Milne

Watership Down by Richard Adams
Watership Down

Fiver could sense danger. Something terrible was going to happen to the warren - he felt sure of it. So did his brother Hazel, for Fiver's sixth sense was never wrong. They had to leave immediately, and they had to persuade the other rabbits to join them. And so begins a long and perilous journey of a small band of rabbits in search of a safe home. Fiver's vision finally leads them to Watership Down, but here they face their most difficult challenge of all...

"From blood and the thump of fear to the pleasure of good feeding, the discovery of new surroundings or the texture of the day, we are immersed in the rabbits' world... one might, at the same time, be reading some gripping escape story, the rabbit characters are so totally credible" The Times Literary Supplement

The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling
The Jungle Books

Mowgli, the man-cub who is brought up by wolves in the jungles of Central India, is one of the greatest literary myths ever created. As he embarks on a series of thrilling escapades, Mowgli encounters such unforgettable creatures as Bagheera, the graceful black panther, and Shere Khan, the tiger with the blazing eyes. Other animal stories range from the simple heroism found in 'Rikki-tikki-tavi' to the macabre comedy 'The Undertakers'. A rich and complex fable of human life, Kipling's enduring classic dazzles the imagination with its astonishing descriptive powers and lively sense of adventure.

"Kiplings' tales of Mowgli and his exciting life in the Indian jungle have been loved by children and adults alike ever since their publication in 1895. Mowgli the 'man-cub' must learn to fend for himself against terrible foes like Shere Khan the tiger, but he can always call upon his friends Baloo the Bear, Bagheera the Black Panther, and Kaa the Rock Python from whom he learns the Law of the jungle." NAXOS

Charlotte’s Web by EB White
Charlotte’s Web

Fern Arable lives with her mother, father and brother on their small farm. When her father decides to ‘do away’ with the runt of the piglet litter Fern takes it upon herself to raise the small piglet herself and names him Wilbur. When Wilbur gets too big for the Arable’s land he goes to live with the Zuckerman’s, Fern’s Aunt and Uncle, in their barn where Fern can visit the pig she has grown to love. Although Fern visits as much as she can, she and Wilbur are not together as often. Wilbur starts to feel quite lonely in the big barn, that is until he meets Charlotte, a beautiful big grey spider who lives above Wilbur in the doorway of the barn. Wilbur and Charlotte soon become firm friends and when the old sheep tells of the plot the Zuckerman’s have to fatten Wilbur up for their Christmas dinner Charlotte hatches a plan to save Wilbur’s life that amazes and astounds the whole town!

The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips by Michael Morpurgo
The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips

Set in the village of Slapton on the south coast of England during the Second World War, this story from master storyteller Morpurgo tells the tale of Lily Tregenza and how she, her family and her cat cope with rationing, evacuation, hope and grief. It is a charming tale with a gentle pace told in the form of a child’s diary.

Just When Stories by Edited by Tamara Gray
Just When Stories

100 years ago, Rudyard Kipling wrote the internationally acclaimed Just So Stories. When Kipling wrote his story of the rhinoceros with the itchy skin, rhino numbers stood at around 65,000. Today, fewer than 3,000 black rhinos survive. The same tragic story goes for too many other animals. Now a glittering array of international authors have gathered together to contribute exclusive and original new stories inspired by Kipling's original volume which focus on the animals which we need to protect today. The title Just When Stories asks the questions: when will the irrational and cruel destruction of wildlife stop? And when will we take action to make it stop? Estimated at between $6 and $20 billion a year by Interpol, the illegal wildlife trade has drastically reduced numerous wildlife populations and currently has some teetering on the brink of extinction. All profits from the sales of the book and associated media formats will be donated in full to WildAid and the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. Full list of authors: William Boyd, Raffaella Barker, Anthony Doerr, Nirmal Ghosh, Romesh Gunesekera, Witi Ihimaera, Radhika Jha, Hanif Kureishi, Antonia Michaelis, Michael Morpurgo, Jin Pyn Lee, Lauren St John, Kate Thompson, Nury Vittachi, Polly Samson, Shaun Tan, Louisa Young and Angela Young.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach is a much-loved children’s book written by the world-renowned Welsh author Roald Dahl. First published in the US in 1961 and the UK in 1967, the book’s rich imagery and amusing characters have made it a firm favourite of both children and parents for over 50 years.

Return to the Hundred Acre Wood by David Benedictus
Return to the Hundred Acre Wood

I think that David Benedictus has done a sterling job in taking on such a difficult task and has created a book that will be as much a companion of today’s generation as its predecessor was for those who are now parents and grandparents. Mark Burgess’s decorations, in the style of E.H. Shepard, are the ideal accompaniment to this charming and delightfully entertaining book. Highly recommended.

The Thing Beneath the Bed by Patrick Rothfuss
The Thing Beneath the Bed

Though possibly not strictly a fantasy book, Patrick Rothfuss’s The Adventures of the Princess and Mr Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed is definitely worthy of comment here. Not only because Patrick Rothfuss is author of one of the better fantasy novels, but also because the book has … a … castle.

Into the Wild by Erin Hunter
Into the Wild

FOUR CLANS, ONE DESTINY. Into the Wild is the first book in the popular Warrior Cars series. The four. Clans have shared the forest for generations but ThunderClan’s territory is in danger as the sinister and mysterious ShadowClan grows stronger each day. Enter Rusty, a domestic house cat who may turn out to be the greatest warrior of them all.

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