Green Mansions HC W.H. Hudson Louis XVI Binding International Collectors Library


SKU: 17108 Category:


Green Mansions Hardcover
by W. H. Hudson (Author)

Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest (1904) is an exotic romance by William Henry Hudson about a traveller to the Guyana jungle of southeastern Venezuela and his encounter with a forest dwelling girl named Rima.

Green Mansions is a sort of fantasy romance set in the jungles of South America. The author, W. H. Hudson, was a naturalist early in his life, doing research in the flora and fauna of the frontier near his birthplace in Argentina. His parents were British and Irish. After he settled in England in 1874, he began organizing and reporting on his research findings. He also wrote a number of books reporting on and extolling the English countryside.

His background as a naturalist is evident throughout Green Mansions, as he describes the terrain and flora of his jungle setting, as well as its birds and wildlife.

The story revolves around the wanderings of Abel de Argensola, a Venezuelan. When a plot against the government, of which he is a part, is thwarted, he slips into the jungle, ostensibly to document the flora and fauna, as well as the culture of the Indians, but really to avoid retribution. Travelling alone, Abel meets Indians, wins their trust, and is soon sharing life with them. He learns that a particular area of the jungle is strictly avoided by the Indians because it home to and guarded by “the daughter of Didi,” a mystical girl who speaks to the birds and animals in a lilting, musical voice. Two Indians, hunting together in that jungle, saw this creature, and one shot a poison dart at her. It hit his companion, killing him. The shooter swore the creature caught the dart and threw it back at the hunters. Hence, the Indians fear her powers and stay clear of “her turf.”

Abel, of course, ventures boldly into that jungle, hears and sees the creature and is enchanted. Before too long, he actually meets her, learns her name—Rima—and meets her “grandfather,” an elderly, white-bearded Venezuelan named Nuflo. The time Abel spends in Rima’s forest riles the Indians, who now distrust him.

Rima speaks repeatedly of her mother and the region where she died. To win her favor, Abel persuades Nuflo to lead him and Rima back to the mountain where he rescued the pregnant mother. After the rescue, Nuflo had carried her to a village with a priest, where Rima was born. The mother, who is never named, cares for her daughter and teaches her to communicate with the birds and beasts. Ultimately, she fades and dies. Nuflo and Rima travel to the area in which Abel has found them. With Nuflo persuaded, the arduous trek is made. In their absence, the Indians discover they can hunt with impunity in the forbidden forest.

Hardcover: 358 pages
Publisher: NY, International Collector’s Library
Green faux leather “Louis XVI” binding with intricate gold borders on front and spine, green endpages and a satin ribbon placeholder.

Hudson, a noted naturalist during the Romantic/Victorian periods, grew up in the wild Pampas, and this book reflects a fascination with nature that most likely began during his childhood. Themes of civilzation vs. savagery and the untouched beauty of the tropics vs. development are found throughout Green Mansions, but these issues are encased in a love story that holds notes of mystery, fantasy, and romanticism.

While the novel provides a good introduction to the naturalist writings of this period (and a much easier read than most of the more scientific prose being written at the time), I thought that the ending was not as developed as the rest of the book, in addition to being highly unsatisfying. The novel does, however, offer wonderful descriptions of the wild forests of the region, and develops fantastical characters, particularly in the case of Rima, the primary female character.

Spine is coming apart from front cover. Nothing a piece of tape can’t fix. Otherwise in excellent condition.

Spine is coming apart from front cover. Nothing a piece of tape can’t fix. Otherwise in excellent condition.