(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Green Mansions contains many elements found in W. H. Hudson’s other books, both fiction and nonfiction. Both The Purple Land That England Lost (1885), Hudson’s first novel, and El Ombú (1902), a collection, reveal Hudson’s extraordinary talent for observing creatures in their natural habitat. His treatment of natural settings and wild creatures has been interpreted variously as pantheistic mysticism, mystical ecstasy, Wordsworthian romanticism, and primitive animism. His books on ornithology and the English countryside have been praised for their scientific accuracy and thoroughness.

As a romance, Green Mansions recalls William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595). That work contains a forest in which magical transformations occur and supernatural creatures abound. Hudson’s novel differs from other romances in the attention it gives to the natural world. The novel’s tropical forest, though idealized (Hudson claimed never to have seen a forest), is given so much detailed attention that it would be too real for romance were it not for the presence of Rima. In some respects, the novel resembles Heart of Darkness (1902) by Joseph Conrad, which recounts another journey into the interior of a tropical forest.

Green Mansions merits a place in fantasy literature by virtue of its treatment of Rima, the bird-woman whose mysterious presence gives the story a...

(The entire section is 443 words.)