The Goshawk

Front Cover
New York Review of Books, 2007 - Nature - 215 pages
17 Reviews
What is it that binds human beings to other animals? T. H. White, the 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and Gos was free, and White had no idea how to break him in beyond the ancient (and, though he did not know it, long superseded) practice of depriving him of sleep, which meant that he, White, also went without rest.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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Review: The Goshawk

User Review  - Paula - Goodreads

I like nature writing, but it often lacks a story. This book did have a plot, but it was a bit in and out. I really enjoyed it though. Some brilliant passages on relationship between people and ... Read full review

Review: The Goshawk

User Review  - Katie - Goodreads

As always, TH White's writing ability here makes even his farts seem thoughtful and nostalgic. (Not kidding. At one point he "breaks wind" and somehow achieves Thoreauvian transcendence.) This ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
v
Section 2
22
Section 3
43
Section 4
47
Section 5
70
Section 6
92
Section 7
114
Section 8
117
Section 9
163
Section 10
179
Section 11
205
Section 12
207
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

T. H. White (1906—1964) was born in Bombay, India, and educated at Queen’s College, Cambridge. His childhood was unhappy—“my parents loathed each other,” he later wrote—and he grew up to become a solitary person with a deep fund of strange lore and a tremendous enthusiasm for fishing, hunting, and flying (which he took up to overcome his fear of heights). White taught for some years at the Stowe School until the success in 1936 of England Have My Bones, a book about outdoor adventure, allowed him to quit teaching and become a full-time writer. Along with The Goshawk, White was the author of twenty-six published works, including his famed sequence of Arthurian novels, The Once and Future King; the fantasy Mistress Masham’s Repose (published in The New York Review of Books Children’s Collection); a collection of essays on the eighteenth century, The Age of Scandal; and a translation of a medieval Latin bestiary, A Book of Beasts. He died at sea on his way home from an American lecture tour and is buried in Piraeus, Greece.

Marie Winn’s recent book, Red-Tails in Love: Pale Male’s Story, featured a now-famous red-tailed hawk. Her column on nature and bird-watching appeared for twelve years in The Wall Street Journal, and she has written on diverse subjects for The New York Times Magazine and Smithsonian. Her forthcoming book, Central Park in the Dark, will be published in the spring of 2008.

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