Newly retranslated, this elemental novel about danger, loss, and coming of age in the natural world was the source material for the classic Disney animated film.
Bambi first came out in Vienna a hundred years ago, the work of Felix Salten, a Viennese litterateur, journalist, and man about town, and the book was an immediate success with readers. An English translation soon appeared with an introduction by the Nobel Prize winner John Galsworthy and was widely and well reviewed. Later Walt Disney made his famous movie of the book, and as a consequence Salten's intimate, delicate, poetic, and gripping tale of forest life, a book that captures both the calm and the disquiet of the animal world, has come to be thought of as children's book. Bambi is certainly a book that children can enjoy, but it is also a moving and lasting contribution to the literature of the natural world. In Damion Searls' new translation the fawn Bambi and his mother, the groves and thickets of the forest, the open and dangerous space of the great field, the ever-present threat of the human—the whole intricate weave of life and death that Salten handles so deftly—all come alive for a new generation of readers. Paul Reitter's afterword discusses the surprising political readings to which Salten's fable of the woods was subjected.
Departing from the cuddly-fawn model of the classic Disney film, Schulman (The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury) restores the depth of Bambi's character as she introduces young readers to Bambi: A Life in the Woods, Felix Salten's 1923 novel. Young Bambi explores his new world with wide, wondering eyes, soaking up the experiences that will help him grow into a strong, brave and independent stag. But in order to survive, Bambi must also heed the advice of the wise Great Prince and remember his mother's warnings about "Him," the two-legged "creature" who hunts the animals of the forest. Unfortunately, "He" soon claims the life of Bambi's mother, forcing Bambi to carry on alone. Combining innocence, realism and a profound respect for nature, Schulman's text swiftly moves to the heart of Salten's lessons, namely, the importance of thinking for oneself and of acknowledging that no living creature is all-powerful. Johnson and Fancher, previously paired on Copp lia by Margot Fonteyn, provide stirring nature scenes in oil paintings of varied size and shape, dappled with sunlight or sometimes darkened by ominous shadows. Whether they are frolicking in fields of purple wildflowers or scattering at the hint of danger, the artists' deer are beauties. All ages.