Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Story from the Forest

Bambi's life in the woods begins happily. There are forest animals to play with-- Friend Hare, the chattery squirrel, the noisy screech owl, and Bambi's twin cousins, frail Gobo and beautiful Faline.

But winter comes, and Bambi learns that the woods hold danger-- and things he doesn't understand. The first snowfall makes food hard to find. Bambi's father, a handsome stag, roams the forest, but leaves Bambi and his mother alone.

Then there is Man. He comes to the forest with weapons that can wound an animal. He does terrible things to Gobo, to Bambi's mother, and even to Bambi. But He can't keep Bambi from growing into a handsome stag himself and becoming... the Prince of the Forest.

Title: Bambi: A Life in the Woods
Author: Felix Salten
Start & Finished: 5/14/09- 5/23/09
Published: 1923
Publisher: Paul Zsolnay Verlag and Simon & Schuster
Pages: 192
Genre: Classic

Written in 1923 by Austrian native Felix Salten it took five more years before Bambi, A Life in the Woods was translated and made it to American audiences. It was recognized as a classic very early on by critics but over the years the fact that it was a book has been largely forgotten because of the immense popularity of Walt Disney's animated adaptation in 1942. Felix Salten did write a sequel to his most well known story called Bambi’s Children a couple of years before Disney released their version of Bambi.

There was so much I loved about Bambi but one of the best things in the book is the interaction between two leaves. The rest of the story is amazing of course but it's this conversation that truly shows the poetic genius of the author. "Can it be true," said the first leaf, "can it really be true, that others come to take our places when we're gone and after them still others, and more and more?" "It really is true," whispered the second leaf. "We can't even begin to imagine it, it's beyond our powers." "It makes me very sad," added the first leaf. They were very silent a while.’

Disney’s Bambi was one of my favorite movies as a kid but I didn’t realize it (and many other Disney films) was based on a book until I ran across it in my middle school library. Like it's movie counterpart, Bambi is a story that will stick with you years after you've read it. However, this was written with adults in mind though many children enjoyed it even if they didn‘t pick up on some of the deeper meanings. As a matter of fact, during World War II a good majority of the books were burned "as political allegory on the treatment of Jews in Europe." The first time that I read this I didn’t get any of these deeper messages in the story so I’m really glad I decided to re-read it.

Like many of Felix Salten's other novels (two of which were also made into Disney movies: Perri and The Shaggy Dog based on The Hound of Florence), there is an environmental and anti-hunting message that at times can be a bit grim. Bleak at times though it may be, there is so much beauty in the book and the ‘circle of life’ theme is very prevalent too.

First Paragraph: He came into the world in the middle of the thicket, in one of those little, hidden forest glades which seem to be entirely open but are really screened in on all sides. There was very little room in it, scarcely enough for him and his mother.

Author and Book's Wikipedia pages
Complete Conversation with the Leaves


  1. I didn't realize it was based on a book either until I read Cheek by Jowl by Ursula K. Le Guin - she had a lot of wonderful things to say about this book. I've been meaning to read it ever since.

  2. Boy, I feel like I've been hiding under a rock. I had no idea this was a book. I loved the movie, so I'm interested in reading this. The conversation between the leaves is fantastic!

  3. Wow.. somehow I knew of this book. But I had forgotten about it. It sounds mesmerizing and enchanting. The conversation with the leaves is very beautiful. Your review was very just lovely. Thank you.

  4. Nymeth: I've heard of that author but I've never read any of her books. Bambi should be read at least once by everyone :). I hope you read it because I'd love to hear what you think!

    Bermudaonion: Most of Disney's movies were based on books actually. I've been trying to read them all but so many other books keep getting in the way... That conversation between the leaves has been quoted so many times over the years as a poetic example of the meaning of life. Hope you get a chance to try this.

    Toni: Thank you! Did you know that Walt Disney loved the leaves conversation so much that he put in that scene in the movie of two leaves falling? There isn't any words though so I think it's meant to be a nod to the book.

  5. I can't handle the movie, so I'll probably have to skip the book, too.

  6. I never knew it was a book, either. And I have to confess I've never seen the movie. But I do have a cousin named Bambi, if you can believe that.

  7. I didn't have a clue Bambi was based on an actual book! I want to read this now.

  8. CarolsNotebook: Oh I love the movie! I can't wait for the Blu-ray version because just the regular is amazingly beautiful. The backgrounds are breathtaking.

    Softdrink: I knew a guy in high school whose sister was named Bambi. Someone's parents really must have loved that movie!

    Belle: You should! It's a great story.

  9. I'm glad you liked the book. It's easy to see why Walt Disney was so interested in adapting it as a film. I was surprised to hear that Salten wrote a sequel, and yet Disney didn't use it as inspiration for the straight to video sequel in 2006. But then again, it's hard to demand quality from the cheap sequels.

  10. Oh awesome! Bambi! That is a great book and post!

  11. I didn't know this was a book either! I don't recall the movie really at all but this book sounds very lovely. Must keep it in mind!

  12. Alex: I haven't read Bambi's Children yet but I'm a bit surprised too that no one at the Disney company has jumped on that. I know Walt Disney hated sequels and refused to do one for Snow White but the people there now don't seem to have much of a problem with it.

    Sheila (Bookjourney): I really do need to go buy a copy of this since I'll probably re-read it again...

    Rebecca Reid: That's one of my favorite Disney movies! You've got to watch it... well after you read the book that is :)

  13. I'd heard it was based on a book, but I've never seen the book till now! I'll be curious to hear how you like the sequel. I'll be on the lookout for both of them. I love that conversation between the leaves - I want to read the books just for that!



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