Jack Zipes

Dec 15, 2021

"Bambi" isn't about what you think it's about

Jack Zipes explains what it's really about

Princeton University Press 2022

Most of us think we know the story of Bambibut do we? The Original Bambi: The Story of a Life in the Forest (Princeton UP, 2022) is an all-new, illustrated translation of a literary classic that presents the story as it was meant to be told. For decades, readers’ images of Bambi have been shaped by the 1942 Walt Disney film—an idealized look at a fawn who represents nature’s innocence—which was based on a 1928 English translation of a novel by the Austrian Jewish writer Felix Salten. This masterful new translation gives contemporary readers a fresh perspective on this moving allegorical tale and provides important details about its creator.

Originally published in 1923, Salten’s story is more somber than the adaptations that followed it. Life in the forest is dangerous and precarious, and Bambi learns important lessons about survival as he grows to become a strong, heroic stag. Jack Zipes’s introduction traces the history of the book’s reception and explores the tensions that Salten experienced in his own life—as a hunter who also loved animals, and as an Austrian Jew who sought acceptance in Viennese society even as he faced persecution.

With captivating drawings by award-winning artist Alenka Sottler, The Original Bambi captures the emotional impact and rich meanings of a celebrated story.

Marshall Poe is the founder and editor of the New Books Network. He can be reached at marshallpoe@newbooksnetwork.com.

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Marshall Poe

Marshall Poe is the founder and editor of the New Books Network. He can be reached at marshallpoe@newbooksnetwork.com.

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