Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Anna Sewell – Black Beauty

Title: Black Beauty
Author: Anna Sewell

ISBN # 0140621490

Publisher: Penguin Classics

First Published: 1877

224 pages

Format: Paperback

Rating: 7/10

During his long life, Black Beauty has many different owners who put him to a variety of tasks, from being a riding horse on a country estate to a cab horse in town. Despite often being subjected to cruelty, Black Beauty's strength, gentle temper and fine instincts stay with him throughout.

Sewell wrote Black Beauty because she was appalled at the treatment of horses and other animals and wanted people to understand that better treatment and understanding of the animals would lead to the animals behaving better. She died not long after the book was published, having been a very sick woman, and so never lived to see even the beginnings of the lasting impression her work has had on people.

There's a slightly preachy style to this book. Every chapter seems to be imparting a lesson: "Treat your horse well and it'll perform better", but it's over and over the same thing. The stories of the other horses are the parts I found more interesting that the story of the titular horse himself.

Apparently the first edition of Black Beauty actually stated "Translated from the original Equine by Anna Sewell", which I think is rather lovely. It was also not originally intended as a children's novel, but aimed at people who worked with horses. I wonder, was Sewell the first to make the adult/children double crossover we see so often nowadays with the likes of the Harry Potter books or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon?

I actually found it quite an uplifting read, which I wasn't really expecting.


Post a Comment

<< Home