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The Goshawk (1951)

af T. H. White

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MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
444641,697 (3.93)56
The predecessor to Helen Macdonald's H Is for Hawk, T. H. White's nature-writing classic, The Goshawk, asks the age-old question. What is it that binds human beings to other animals? White, author of The Once and Future King and Mistress Masham's Repose, was a young writer who found himself rifling through old handbooks of falconry. A particular sentence-"the bird reverted to a feral state"-seized his imagination, and, White later wrote, "A longing came to my mind that I should be able to do this myself. The word 'feral' has a kind of magical potency which allied itself to two other words, 'ferocious' and 'free.'" Immediately White wrote to Germany to acquire a young goshawk. Gos, as White named the bird, was ferocious and Gos was free, and White had no idea how to break him in beyond the ancient (and, as it happened, long superseded) practice of depriving him of sleep, which meant that he, White, also went without rest. Slowly man and bird entered a state of delirium and intoxication, of attraction and repulsion that looks very much like love. White kept a daybook describing his volatile relationship with Gos-at once a tale of obsession, a comedy of errors, and a hymn to the hawk. It was this that became The Goshawk, one of modern literature's most memorable and surprising encounters with the wilderness-as it exists both within us and without.… (mere)
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Relates a time when the author bought a young wild goshawk and attempted to tame it, using several old books on falconry as a guide- with outdated methods. I am not, of course, a falconer myself but I've read just enough about it to recognize when things were going wrong. White admired and loved the bird for its fierce beauty, but also seemed to mostly want to dominate it and take pride in forcing it to his will- so it seemed to be all one step forward and two steps back. He didn't have a mentor and succumbed to very human failings- frustration, impatience, brash decisions. Some of the scenes are hard to read, I cringed for the bird. But there's also riveting descriptions, and interesting little asides (also many that really wandered or at least I had no frame of reference). My favorite passage was how the hawk carefully examined water when once he was set on a board in a small pool, and eventually dipped his feathers to bathe. I liked very much the author's joy and satisfaction in figuring out and making things to use in his endeavors. Also appreciated how brutally honest the whole account was- White tells at the end, how later on he successfully trained other hawks (using more modern methods I gather) and explains plainly how many of his efforts didn't work and why, in hindsight. If I hadn't read H is for Hawk I might not have approached this one, so I'm very glad I read the other first, as it gave me more perspective.

from the Dogear Diary ( )
  jeane | Nov 10, 2020 |
Fascinating. Brief, but perfectly written. An excellent companion to "H is for Hawk" or "The Rites of Autumn."

> I had never trained a serious hawk before, nor met a living falconer, nor seen a hawk that had been trained. I had three books. One of them was by Gilbert Blaine, the second was a half-volume in the Badminton Library and the third was Bert’s Treatise of Hawks and Hawking, which had been printed in 1619.

> There were two kinds of these raptors, the long- and the short-winged hawks. Long-winged hawks, whose first primary feather was on the whole the longest, were the "falcons", who were attended by falconers. Short-winged hawks, whose fourth primary was the longest, were the true "hawks", who were attended by austringers. Falcons flew high and stooped upon their quarry: hawks flew low, and slew by stealth. Gos was a chieftain among the latter.

> Gos was suffering from a hunger trace. If a growing eyas was stinted in his food, say for a day or two, the lengthening feathers would add a weak section during those days. The stamina might be picked up again, and the feathers might continue to increase in length, healthy and strong; but always, until the next year's moult, the tell-tale weak section would lie like a semicircular slash across the full grown plume. … For this reason broken feathers had to be mended by a process called "imping". Most people who have been compelled to read Shakespeare for examinations will be familiar with the word. "Imp out our imperfections with your thought" or "imp out our drooping country's broken wing".

> He was a Hittite, a worshipper of Moloch. He immolated victims, sacked cities, put virgins and children to the sword. He was never a shabby tiger. He was a Prussian officer in a pickelhaube, flashing a monocle, who sabred civilians when they crossed his path. He would have got on excellently with Attila, the most truculent of men. He was an Egyptian hieroglyph, a winged bull of Assyria. He was one of the lunatic dukes or cardinals in the Elizabethan plays of Webster. ( )
  breic | Apr 27, 2020 |
Even though it lacks that extra layer of symbolism and grief as an explanation for the primal need for connection and blood-lust in H is for Hawk, this book is still a fascinating book on falconry and the inevitable struggle between one man's inexplicable obsession (although this can be supplied by the reader after reading H is for Hawk for some background knowledge of White himself) and the untameable wildness of nature.

Best served as supplementary reading for MacDonald's H is for Hawk.

Aside: if I ever decide to arrange my books with the idea that they would have interesting conversations with their neighbours, I'd put The Goshawk between H is for Hawk and Shakespeare, particularly The Taming of the Shrew for reasons listed in The Goshawk itself. ( )
  kitzyl | Jun 30, 2017 |
Well worth a read, but it's an uncomfortable one. Like a cross between The Old Man and the Sea and The Go-between! I found myself sympathising with White's stubbornness, admiring his perseverance and loving his account of fox-hunting. I was fascinated by the hawk himself, and his first bath is absolutely charming, beautifully - and I hope faithfully - described by White. The observations seem pretty sincere, even where they're in ignorance, so you learn with White. Gos' detestation of meat after all the early over-feeding is captivating, and his own human observations - including his reflections on 'The Taming of the Shrew' are illuminating too. I the end though, I wanted him to feel punished, humiliated, broken, wretched, not drinking champagne. Did "God" who made the lamb also make these clumsy, callous, victorious men? Well yes, he did. [I read "H s for Hawk" immediately after reading this.] ( )
  emmakendon | Apr 17, 2017 |
Very fun book. Autobiographical bit about the author training a Goshawk, probably for his own experience to aid in writing The Once and Future King with it's falconry and such. ( )
  Bruce_Deming | Feb 5, 2016 |
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White, T. H.Forfatterprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Schuchart, MaxOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Van der Klis, JolandeOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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The predecessor to Helen Macdonald's H Is for Hawk, T. H. White's nature-writing classic, The Goshawk, asks the age-old question. What is it that binds human beings to other animals? White, author of The Once and Future King and Mistress Masham's Repose, was a young writer who found himself rifling through old handbooks of falconry. A particular sentence-"the bird reverted to a feral state"-seized his imagination, and, White later wrote, "A longing came to my mind that I should be able to do this myself. The word 'feral' has a kind of magical potency which allied itself to two other words, 'ferocious' and 'free.'" Immediately White wrote to Germany to acquire a young goshawk. Gos, as White named the bird, was ferocious and Gos was free, and White had no idea how to break him in beyond the ancient (and, as it happened, long superseded) practice of depriving him of sleep, which meant that he, White, also went without rest. Slowly man and bird entered a state of delirium and intoxication, of attraction and repulsion that looks very much like love. White kept a daybook describing his volatile relationship with Gos-at once a tale of obsession, a comedy of errors, and a hymn to the hawk. It was this that became The Goshawk, one of modern literature's most memorable and surprising encounters with the wilderness-as it exists both within us and without.

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