Richard Adams, ‘The Knife’ (2010)

My first experience of reading Adams (Watership Down being one of the considerable number of books I wish I’d read as a child) is this very short (three pages) piece set in a boarding school in 1938. The protagonist, Philip, is being bullied by Stafford, the head prefect of his house; he harbours fantasies of revenge, but has never acted on them – until, that is, he finds a knife. I appreciate the way Adams portrays the knife as the focus of Philip’s desires; but I feel that the ending doesn’t quite work, and the rest of the telling is not quite intense enough to compensate, so ultimately this story falls short for me.

Rating: ***


  1. I dont know how Gaiman and Sarantonio let this one through. It is a weak peice, and contains factual errors also. Such as there not being television in 1938 ….. and there is a problem with event sequences …. his descriptions of events and projected events do not add up and the beating should happen on the evening of the murder, after the boys supper, or prayers, whatever …. I think the author deserves a beating for this lousy tale, unless I am missing some ultra erudite allegory or something. I give this one an N.

  2. And for my lousy spelling, also an N.

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