The Goshawk

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2007-10-02
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics
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What is it that binds human beings to other animals? T. H. White, the author ofThe Once and Future KingandMistress Masham's Repose, was a young writer who found himself rifling through old handbooks of falconry. A particular sentence"the bird reverted to a feral state"seized his imagination, and, White later wrote, "A longing came to my mind that I should be able to do this myself. The word 'feral' has a kind of magical potency which allied itself to two other words, 'ferocious' and 'free.'" Immediately, White wrote to Germany to acquire a young goshawk. Gos, as White named the bird, was ferocious and Gos was free, and White had no idea how to break him in beyond the ancient (and, though he did not know it, long superseded) practice of depriving him of sleep, which meant that he, White, also went without rest. Slowly man and bird entered a state of delirium and intoxication, of attraction and repulsion that looks very much like love. White kept a daybook describing his volatile relationship with Gosat once a tale of obsession, a comedy of errors, and a hymn to the hawk. It was this that becameThe Goshawk, one of modern literature's most memorable and surprising encounters with the wildernessas it exists both within us and without.

Author Biography

T. H. White (1906—1964) was born in India and educated at Cheltenham and Queen's College, Cambridge. He was a novelist, a satirist, and a social historian, best known for the quartet of novels on the Arthurian legends called The Once and Future King. He published a book of poems while still at Cambridge, and continued to write poetry throughout his life.

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