In 1923, Viennese author Felix Salten published his novel Bambi, a Life in the Woods. It was a coming-of-age story about a young deer. Walt Disney later obtained the rights to it and produced the 1942 animated movie Bambi. That movie is now a children’s classic, although is often remembered as traumatic for the offscreen death of Bambi’s mother at the hands of a hunter. That trauma doesn’t hold a candle to the original novel.
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Bambi, a Life in the Woods was not a children’s book at all. The novel did not depict forest creatures as particularly cute. The main plot follows Bambi as he grows up and learns to live in fear of man, the biggest danger for deer. His relatives and friends are, one by one, shot and killed by hunters. Even Bambi suffers a gunshot wound. It was well understood in Austria that Salten’s novel was an allegory for the pogroms against Jews in pre-Nazi Europe. In 1935, the Nazis banned Salten’s novel and its sequel Bambi’s Children, and included it in public book burnings. Original editions are therefore quite rare.
So how did Bambi go from a terrifying allegory to a cute young Disney character? That’s part of the story of Bambi’s first hundred years, as told at The Guardian. -via Damn Interesting