While Adams wrote other books, it was Watership Down (published in 1972, and initially rejected by four publishers) for which he’ll be remembered. I read it as soon as it came out, and although I was already 21, I still teared up at the ending, which I’ll never forget—and which was the quote given with the short notice on Adams’s site.
“It seemed to Hazel that he would not be needing his body any more, so he left it lying on the edge of the ditch, but stopped for a moment to watch his rabbits and to try to get used to the extraordinary feeling that strength and speed were flowing inexhaustibly out of him into their sleek young bodies and healthy senses.
“‘You needn’t worry about them,’ said his companion. ‘They’ll be alright – and thousands like them.”’
Well, that of course implies an afterlife, but it doesn’t matter: the oblique description of Hazel’s death, which still makes my eyes misty, was a way of at once letting younger folk know that animals died but also soothing them at the same time. It has extra resonance because my dear friend Kenny King died on a walk near the Down.
I loved that book. Here’s the first edition:
And Adams reading from it:
h/t: Nicole Reggia