The Plague Dogs (Magill's Literary Annual 1979)
The Plague Dogs is Richard Adams’ third novel, and like the acclaimed rabbit epic Watership Down and the mythical bear saga Shardik, this work focuses on the animal world. As in the first two novels, Adams’ storytelling art compels the reader into so strong an empathy with the creatures that the beasts become brothers, and their quest for survival against terrible odds and stronger forces becomes intensely personal while at the same time epic in scope and magnitude. Here, however, Adams’ central characters, Snitter and Rowf, are dogs, so thoroughly domesticated that their instincts have been deadened. For them, therefore, a return to the wild world of nature is perilous, uncomfortable, and ironically unnatural. However, they are not safe and secure in the world of man either. They are always on the run—first from the whitecoats (doctors performing experiments upon animals) and starvation; then from sheepherders and the cold of the Lake District; and finally from paratroopers, the British government, and their own despair.
Laced throughout the narrative of the month and a half dodge in the wild is a rather heavyhanded satiric attack on man, the cause of the dogs’ decision to flee. Adams attacks government bureaucrats, unscrupulous journalists, and unfeeling scientists—men who have lost sight of their purpose and responsibility. The message is that man has been grossly irresponsible in managing the natural world, and...
(The entire section is 1961 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1979)
Atlantic. CCXLI, April, 1978, p. 126.
Christian Science Monitor. March 21, 1978, p. 30.
New Statesman. XCIV, September 23, 1977, p. 418.
New York Times Book Review. March 12, 1978, p. 10.
Newsweek. XCI, March 13, 1978, p. 86.
Times Literary Supplement. September 30, 1977, p. 1096.
(The entire section is 30 words.)