Watership Down and the crisis of liberalism

When a newspaper columnist wants to write about a novel, the rule is that you're supposed to have a "hook", an excuse, a timely reason to bring up the book in question. Maybe an anniversary-of-publication, maybe an authorial death, maybe a Nobel Prize. I have none of those for this column, but I think my hook is better: I'm writing about Watership Down because I'm reading Richard Adams' 1972 novel to my daughters, and in that reading I've decided the book has real relevance to the crisis of the liberal order in the Western world.

Comes the reply: You mean the book about the... rabbits?

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2019, with the headline 'Watership Down and the crisis of liberalism'. Print Edition | Subscribe