'They set out up the
hillside, going slowly, picking their way from one bush and tussock to another
which stretched on either side as far as they could see.
A man walks upright. For him it is strenuous to climb a steep hill, because he has to keep pushing his own vertical mass upwards and cannot gain momentum. The rabbit is better off. His forelegs support his horizontal body and the great back legs do the work.... The rabbits' anxieties and strain in climbing the down were different, therefore, from those which you, reader, will experience if you go there.'
By 1982 Watership Down had sold over
5,000,000 copies, and that’s just in English.
It had already been translated into twenty languages, though not Lapine. The title gives translators nightmares: downs are peculiar
to southern England and they have to
translate ‘down’ as the rather more generic
‘hill’. Me? Live on Watership Hill?
I think not….