Favorite animals in literature


or, less high-falutingly, the aaaaw factor.
Isn’t this the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? Definitely cuter than Jeremy Northam, smarter than Orlando Bloom, more adept at drilling its way into hazelnuts than Sean Bean and the rest… Muscardinus avenallarius aka the dormouse, aka the hazel dormouse, dory mouse, sleeping mouse, sleeper, seven sleeper, or chestle crumb. Shown at left in one of its typical pursuits, the dormouse spends about three quarters of its time asleep, including a hefty hibernation from fall to spring.

The dormouse is native to Europe and in England lives mainly in wooded areas and coppices in the south. Because of changing agricultural practices and the destruction of ancient hedgerows, the dormouse is now a protected species.

Lewis Carroll immortalized the dormouse in Alice in Wonderland at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, where the dormouse is subjected to various indignities (to keep it awake and either encourage or prevent it from speaking), including being stuffed into the teapot.

Byron (yes, this is the Regency tie-in) made this comment on life:
When one subtracts from life infancy (which is vegetation), sleep, eating and willing, buttoning and unbuttoning–how much remains of downright existence? The summer of a dormouse.

Inviting your favorite rodent stories and reminiscences, or comments on Shakespeare, St. George and dragons since I’ve just noticed the date and realized any of those would have been a more appropriate post!

Janet
winner of first annual BWAHA award, Series Historical for Dedication

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6 Responses to Favorite animals in literature

  1. Cara King says:

    Shakespeare is rad. πŸ™‚

    If Amanda’s question yesterday had included favorite plays (read or seen), my Shakespeare selections would have included (in no particular order):

    Hamlet
    Macbeth
    King Lear
    Twelfth Night
    Much Ado About Nothing
    Richard II

    One of my life’s goals (along with NOT reading Clarissa) is to read and to see every one of Shakespeare’s plays. I’m at about the 3/4 mark for reading, and a bit further with seeing (and that doesn’t count movies!)

    Oh, and the dormouse is awfully cute too. πŸ™‚

    Cara (not usually a big rodent fan)

  2. Janet,
    You are a scream! And, by Jove, you manage to be literary at the same time.
    My un-favorite rodent in film, is Jerry of Tom & Jerry cartoons. I always hated that the mouse brutalized the cat. And in literature, I’m afraid my contribution is learning to read from Donald Duck comic books.
    I loved The Black Stallion, though and Misty of Chincoteague
    Diane

  3. Lois says:

    Awww, they are so cute!!! πŸ™‚ Well, for me, since the only things that I can think of at the moment are Romances and not the rest of the literary world, admittedly I like it when a cat shows up, particularly if they are in a book as a secondary character or such. Okay, sure, it probably has something to do with the fact I have a baby kitty approxiately 10 years old now. . . Well, maybe she does fall into the senior category, or close to it, but hey, she’s my baby!! πŸ™‚

    Lois

  4. Elena Greene says:

    I’m with Diane. My favorite animal characters are equines: Black Beauty, The Black Stallion and all the horses and ponies in Marguerite Henry’s books, which my kids are enjoying now.

    Re animals in romance, I love ’em as minor players but I have reservations about anthologies with the “animals as matchmakers” theme. Not that some fine stories haven’t been published in them, but the packaging was way too cutesy.

    Elena

  5. Elena Greene says:

    Congrats on the BWAHA award, Janet!!!!!!!!

  6. I don’t have any childhood favorites involving animals–I was always too “sensitive,” and after the “Old Yeller incident” when I was about 9, my parents forbade me to read/watch/listen to stories with animals. Even now I don’t mind when bad things happen to people in books, but HATE when bad things happen to animals.

    BTW, Diane, I totally agree about Tom and Jerry. πŸ™‚

    Janet, what is the BWAHA award??? It sounds fab!

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