The book describes how Maxwell brought a smooth-coated otter back from Iraq and raised it at "Camusfeàrna" (the name he used for his. Start by marking “Ring of Bright Water (Ring of Bright Water, #1)” as Want to Read: Hailed a masterpiece when it was first published, the story of Gavin Maxwell's life with otters on the remote west coast of Scotland remains one of the most lyrical, moving descriptions of a man's. download Ring of Bright Water on medical-site.info ✓ FREE SHIPPING on qualified Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the month in fiction, nonfiction.
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Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide. His novel Ring of Bright Water sold more than a million copies and inspired Scottish home, and Edal, one of the otters featured in his book. Immortalised as Camusfearna in 'Ring of Bright Water' – the book tells the story of his time on the island of Eilean Ban and the surrounding.
Not all was lost, however, since Maxwell's experience of hunting basking sharks — leviathans measuring up to 8m in length — provided the material for his first book, Harpoon at a Venture It immediately established his reputation as a romantic writer who laced his lyrical descriptions with a hefty dose of gloom and gore. They represent, in their psycho-dramas, their sublimated sexuality, their flares of misanthropy and their visionary violence, part of the dark side of British nature-memoir and landscape writing.
But as well as craving adventure, Gavin also sought someone or something on which to lavish his affection. Although he had several relationships with younger men — his taste, he said, was "for youth and beauty" — his eternal adolescence made it impossible to sustain these relationships for long.
Instead it was with otters, at the age of 41, that he finally found the kind of love he had been searching for — a love he called a "compensatory passion" for his pain. In Ring of Bright Water, Maxwell described this feeling as "a thraldom to otters, an otter fixation". He realised, he wrote, that Mijbil meant more to him than most human beings he knew, and he was not ashamed of it.
Kathleen Raine, the poet with whom Maxwell formed a tempestuous friendship and from whose poem the line "ring of bright water" comes, referred to Mijbil as "our animal-child". And when Maxwell briefly married, his wife even talked about producing "a cub" for him, although there never was a baby.
It was the tragedy of Gavin Maxwell's life that Ring of Bright Water was both his greatest moment and the destroyer of his idyll.
Suddenly he was famous — the book eventually sold more than a million copies — and people found their way to his sanctuary and shattered his peace. They also brought him animals; he was initially pleased to have Teko, the male otter who became as famous as Edal, but his home quickly turned into a menagerie. Over the eight remaining years of his life he lurched from one crisis to another: Teko and Edal savaged their keepers Terry Nutkins, later a TV naturalist, lost two fingers and had to be fenced in; Maxwell squandered all his new-found wealth on fast cars, boats, booze and two storm-lashed islands; and finally, and worst of all, in January the house at Sandaig was destroyed in a fire during which Edal was burnt to death in her enclosure.
All of this — including his disastrous month marriage — Maxwell chronicled in two sequels to Ring of Bright Water before he succumbed to lung cancer in at the age of only At the time of Maxwell's death, he was fixed in the public imagination as the cuddly otter man, as portrayed by Bill Travers in the loosely adapted film version of Ring of Bright Water released in The actress Virginia McKenna, co-founder of the Born Free Foundation which campaigns against keeping wild animals in captivity, starred alongside her husband in the film.
Looking back, what does she think now about Maxwell and his otters? I suppose there was a conflict in him, knowing that some day they ought to go free — and he did let some go. But he was like a man in two parts; the bit of him that adored nature and the wild creatures, the other part that needed this relationship with them, maybe because he didn't have many fulfilling human relationships.
The movie image of a jovial Maxwell and his spirited girlfriend gradually became tarnished as three books were published that revealed a more truthful picture.
First, in , the writer's friend Richard Frere published a memoir, Maxwell's Ghost, which publicly exposed Gavin's homosexuality for the first time. It also reported the violent rows and bitter fallings-out between Maxwell and his young otter keepers. Although Maxwell had alluded to the part she played in some of the most critical moments of his life, no one could have guessed at the more outlandish details.
She revealed how she had been in love with him and how, when he cruelly ejected her from Sandaig one night, she had laid a curse on him.
By a cruel twist of fate, it then became Raine who caused Maxwell's greatest suffering when she allowed Mijbil to run wild on the night he was killed. Maxwell found out about Raine's curse much later, and believed it to be the explanation for everything that went wrong in his life, including the devastating fire. An authorised biography of Maxwell by Douglas Botting, published in , celebrated his genius as a writer, but did little to dispel the growing picture of him as an egotistical snob who betrayed his friends, neglected his pets and left a trail of destruction in his wake.
There is one person, however, who knew Gavin well and who is prepared to defend his reputation. Jimmy Watt, who appears as a floppy-haired boy in many of the pictures in Ring of Bright Water, was a year-old school-leaver when he joined Maxwell as an otter keeper in He remained close to the writer and eventually inherited his estate, including the rights to his books. Now over 70, he lives in Glenelg, close to Sandaig. A lot of it was unsaid and unknown.
He was like a father to me, so I have a great deal of affection for him. Watt accepts that our attitude to keeping wild animals has changed, but defends Maxwell's reasons for taking on Edal and Teko. They couldn't take them back to Africa, so they were homeless. Of course things have changed. I love seeing the wild otters here now, but I wouldn't want them in the house. Outside is where they are happiest. Back on the beach at Sandaig, I'm standing in front of the large boulder that marks the site where Gavin Maxwell's ashes are buried, and where the famous house once stood.
It was Jimmy Watt who placed the ashes here, while Kathleen Raine watched from a respectful distance. Just across the meadow is another grave, a cairn erected over the final resting place of Edal. On the morning after the fire, Maxwell asked Richard Frere to bury his precious otter's remains. Frere found her shrunken body, charred and broken, and buried her here, in front of the rowan tree where Kathleen Raine made her curse.
On the cairn is a bronze plaque inscribed with Gavin's words: I understand Richard Mabey's reservations about Maxwell's legacy, but as I read these words I can't help thinking of his dazzling descriptions of his happiest days here with Mijbil, and of how Ring of Bright Water so perfectly articulates the need for the human soul to be free. For that alone, I think, Maxwell's greatest work still stands.
A special edition of hand-bound copies, complete with previously unseen pictures, will be published by the Eilean Ban Trust to mark Maxwell's centenary. For more details: You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists? Try Independent Minds free for 1 month. Independent Minds Comments can be posted by members of our membership scheme, Independent Minds.
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Sort order. Jun 15, Nikki rated it it was amazing Shelves: Otters were, not quite pets, but definitely companions for him, in a way that Darlington had no opportunity to understand. Originally posted here, on my blog.
Dec 21, Krenner1 rated it it was amazing. Although this was written in the 60s, I just found it after reading a Wall Street Journal list of the best nature writing. This is a lovely read about a writer who lives in an isolated Scottish home in summer. This is not a book of fast plot or twists, but it is equisite description of the home and life there, and of how life changes when the writer acquires a pet otter.
With sophisticated writing and vocabulary, even the fawning over this beloved otter avoids sentimentality or cuteness, and sus Although this was written in the 60s, I just found it after reading a Wall Street Journal list of the best nature writing. With sophisticated writing and vocabulary, even the fawning over this beloved otter avoids sentimentality or cuteness, and sustains a literary tone that is beautiful and rewarding.
Jul 17, Timothy Davis rated it it was amazing. Forever after you read A Ring of Bright Water, the beauty, wonder, and humor of this book will gently surface with a ring of bright ripples in the waters of you mind.
I am never able to remember this book without simultaneously wanting to laugh and to cry-and always with a sense of awed wonder. This is the true story of Gavin's befriending of otters or perhaps we should say of the otters' decision to befriend Gavin. In one scene, on the first night Gavin has one of the otters in his home, the Forever after you read A Ring of Bright Water, the beauty, wonder, and humor of this book will gently surface with a ring of bright ripples in the waters of you mind.
In one scene, on the first night Gavin has one of the otters in his home, the otter carefully watches Gavin get into bed and pull the covers to his chin. The otter then crawls in beside Gavin, lies on its back, and pulls the covers to its own chin. Other scenes describe Gavin's losing efforts to make certain parts of his cottage off limits to otters.
Gavin never for the rest of his life produced prose that so translucently coveys the beauty of the waters around his cottage, or the sense of his own evolving life and emotions. Reading this book is giving a gift to yourself. It is one a dozen that I always look for used to give to friends. View all 4 comments.
Oct 03, J. Grice rated it really liked it Shelves: After seeing the film of the same name, I was compelled to read the book by Gavin Maxwell. Great reading. Jan 24, Cameron rated it really liked it. I osmosed the movie based on Ring of Bright Water as an animal-obsessed kid, and read the book not long after. While I imagine that some British neomarxist critics might furrow their brows at Maxwell's use of a pastoral escape device that drives the plot, I'm not coldhearted or disentangled from ideology enough to dismiss Maxwell's love of both the rustic Scottish seascape, and of otterkind.
Devastatingly sad at times, but sleek and beautiful, this is an animal story classic that has mostly go I osmosed the movie based on Ring of Bright Water as an animal-obsessed kid, and read the book not long after.
Devastatingly sad at times, but sleek and beautiful, this is an animal story classic that has mostly gone unappreciated by American readers in recent decades. La primera de ellas: La segunda: Not what I initially expected but in a good way. I was anticipating it to be about otters, otters, and more otters. Instead, this book is a beautiful collection of observations about nature, comical stories, and poetic prose.
I watched the movie Ring of Bright Water several years ago and was absolutely taken by the story. I am what one may call an extreme animal lover and am drawn to such accounts. Due to my upbringing, I'm also fascinated by individuals who choose to live outside of the hub of society. In Ring of Bright Water, Maxwell recounts the early years at "Camusfearna", an isolated house in a remote part of Scotland and his subsequent adventures and misadventures raising three otters. The way in which Maxwell I watched the movie Ring of Bright Water several years ago and was absolutely taken by the story.
The way in which Maxwell goes about describing his otters is absolutely captivating. The love and affection he felt for these creatures radiates from the page. Yet, it is often clear that Maxwell is very much from his time. He is quite quick to recognize that many readers will find this affection for an animal to be absurd, a kind of apology that one would be hard-pressed to find in the writings of fervent animals lovers today.
Some of his actions regarding wild animals, such as the trapping of the wild cat kitten, also seem terribly misguided and would likely not be acceptable today.
I found his description of taking Mijbil home from the Middle East to be quite surprising. Imagine having an otter on your lap during an international or domestic flight today! It would most certainly not "fly. This truly is a beautiful book and such a quick read that anyone even slightly interested should give it a go. Apr 01, Amanda Wolpink rated it it was amazing. Ring of Bright Water represents, for me, narrative of one man's journey to re-join the likes of animal kind.
As humans, we often separate ourselves out from animal taxonomy and think of ourselves as not truly in the same realm as animals. While I do agree to a point that free will and increased brain power makes us unique, I believe that Maxwell felt the need to find himself closer to the wild by removing himself from a populated area and surrounding himself with otters, birds, and such. He has Ring of Bright Water represents, for me, narrative of one man's journey to re-join the likes of animal kind.
He has created, in my mind, a perfect place Camusfearna which represents a mysterious land filled with fresh air, frolicking otters, and nature for as far as the eye can see. I can only imagine such things as I have never experienced such a place and such a relationship with wild animals. I understand modern criticism of Maxwell's work, as wild animals should not be penned up and domesticated, but at the same time, I never felt angry with Maxwell.
I felt that his intentions were deeper than what we saw in his melodic writing. I felt that he thought of otters as his equals and that he had no intentions of ruling or mastering any species. I will also say that this book was difficult for me to read.
I find the storyline to be both tragic and beautiful. I've read the book via print and via audiobook. The audiobook allowed me to focus more on the emotion of the book, and possibly was even harder for me to get through.
It's a roller coaster of emotions and thoughts. Happiness and sadness in such great detail and eloquent wording made this book my favorite and I recommend it! Really loved it. So much so that I acquired the sequel even before I'd finished reading it.
In essence, Gavin Maxwell became a hermit, moving to the wilds of the western Scottish Highlands and acquiring a couple of otters to keep as pets. It's as simple as that, and yet Maxwell is an excellent and intelligent writer whose style I frequently found unputdownable.
The story is by turns dramatic, funny, and tragic, and had me in tears a couple of times I'm a big softie when it comes to animal stuff. Mij is one of the best animal characters I've ever encountered on or off the page.
Black and white photos accompany the text and add immeasurably to it. Maxwell keeps things interesting by providing endless anecdotes and as a whole the book is a jumble of the travelogue, historical account, factual and scientific information, diary, digression, and nature writing. It's also very funny, and it inspires endless enthusiasm for the subject matter in the reader. If you liked this book, you might also enjoy: Oct 08, Micha rated it it was amazing.
Get out your Kleenex! This is a tear jerker. Always wanted an otter as a child, as an adult I know that's not the best idea for the animal, but still spend hours at the zoo or aquarium watching them whenever I have the chance.
They made an outstanding movie based on this book. Aug 26, Cameron Scott rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: A wonderful book to read when you are neither here, nor there.
Eye opening. Good to read before bed. Not much substance, except for the substance of place, which is vivid, and the relationship between an otter and a human. I've already sobbed like a broken woman at the death of Johnny the spaniel.
Goodness knows how I'll cope once we get to the otter death that wounded me when I saw the film as a child. I read this as a young girl and was struck by the beauty of writing and the story itself. I have read many books but not many have stayed with me the way this one has. Apr 07, Paul rated it it was amazing. Heartwarming and touching story. Should be on everybody's "To Read" list. Three years ago when I first visited Scotland I watched the wonderful if more fictional adaptation of this book.
So of course I couldn't resist picking up a beautiful copy when I saw it in Oxfam books, Stirling. The illustrations and photos are priceless - do not get a copy without them! I have to preface the fact that I love this book and the film to bits by stating that it has not aged well in terms of ethics towards animals.
I do not excuse it for this, Maxwell was writing in the Three years ago when I first visited Scotland I watched the wonderful if more fictional adaptation of this book. I do not excuse it for this, Maxwell was writing in the s not the s and should have known better. It is still an incredible insight into the behavior of otters and life in a remote West Highland cottage. Very easy and pleasurable to read. It rewards reading in the bath This book is bait for tears and laughs.
I can't remember the last time I read something that gave me as much joy as this. Aug 04, Carrie ReadingtoKnow rated it it was amazing.
Extremely interesting and engaging, this book details how Gavin Maxwell first fell in love with the otter and began his fascinating journey in caring for them. I like the writer's use of his landscape, the ecology of his surroundings and the suitable habitat for his otters. He establishes his place as well as theirs within an environment that is both sustainable and abundant, yet never lacks for knowledge or description of new wonders.
There is a certain lesson to be learned too, fr I like the writer's use of his landscape, the ecology of his surroundings and the suitable habitat for his otters. There is a certain lesson to be learned too, from the wild animal in captivity genre, in that these encounters are more often than not associated with rampages, assault, unwarranted violence, injuries to strangers and more often than not, the destruction of the animal due to litigation and necessary testing for rabies.
Maxwell's account is only far fetched in that it appeals to a passion for wildlife that anybody who has experienced enough of it will understand; the whole reason a person wants a pet that refuses to be trained is because it is a wild animal, and by training and domesticating it, the owner takes away from that animal the freedom it was given by nature of its birth.