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Ring of Bright Water, Gavin Maxwell, 1960

Ring of Bright Water, Gavin Maxwell, 1960
This classic book was brought to a wide audience through the film in 1969 which was a 'fictionalised' version of the story i.e. it was nothing like the book!  The story is based on Maxwell's retreat to a cottage on  a remote part of the west coast of Scotland with an otter (Mijbil) which was given to him  by Thesiger, as a result of his travels in the Iraqi marshes (see A Reed Shaken by the Wind by Gavin Maxwell, also Thesiger's Marsh Arabs).  

The Independent  provides a useful discussion of Maxwell's legacy and the diffculty with judging past behaviour through the eyes of present times (See http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/gavin-maxwells-bitter-legacy-was-the-otter-man-the-wildlife-champion-he-appeared-to-be-9595629.html).

The best parts of this book provide pictures of a coastal landscape that is still enthralling; the light, the brightness, the wildlife  and a type of writing that reflects how immersion in such a place affects both mind and body.

'Into this bright, watery landscape Mij moved and took possession with a delight that communicated itself as clearly as any articulate speech could have done; his alien but essentially appropriate entity occupied and dominated every corner of it,so that he became for me the central figure among the host of wild creatures with which I was surrounded.  The waterfall, the burn, the white beaches and the islands; his form became the familiar foreground to them all - or perhaps foreground is not the right word, for at Camusfearnea he seemed so absolute a part of his surroundings that I wondered how they could ever have seemed to me complete before his arrival' p 120-121 196 6th imp. Longmans)