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Christian the Lion...

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
So, I finally got around to reading "A Lion Called Christian".

This is a very well-writen book; many of the episodes are presented as matter-of-fact, without a lot of fanfare and hyperbole. The emotional style was very even-keeled, never intending to "keep you in suspense" for the next page or chapter. It was very much a printed documentary, with a lot of love thrown into it.

I have to admit, I was never before so happy to have been so ignorant and presumptuous. When the YouTube video was big last year, I was taken by it like everyone was, but almost immediately grew cynical, wondering why such a thing was filmed, how much exploitation and/or staging was involved, etc. Upon reading the book and discovering the hows and whys of the accompanying film documentary, I was more than happy to feel more than a bit foolish and guilty, upon realizing that there was in fact a profound purity to the entire experience shared between Christian, Mr. Bourke, and Mr. Rendall. It really was a love story of dimension that most of us will never understand.

At the same time, it was a bit of a downer for me. Perhaps it's a consequence of turning 40 this year, and perhaps of watching some old home movies over the weekend, but while absorbing the beautiful imagery of the book, both in picture and verse, I had a difficult time squaring the notion that Christian had long since passed on - as of course has George Adamson - and Ace and John aren't young hipsters with a lion cub anymore. So much has changed.

And not just people, but the times in general. I was always taken by parts where it was written that Christian would accidentally tear people clothes and stockings, and they were only happy to have him do it, realizing it was "one of those things", and a more than sufficient trade-off for a glimpse of this beautiful lion. Or the time he scratched a lady's (already purchased) piece of antique furniture, and she told Ace and John that she only purchased the piece as an excuse to see Christian, and the scratches would serve to remind her of him.

To me, that's beauty.

I put the book down last night in a bit of emotional turmoil. Somehow, it's always easier (for me) to read a period piece of generations long past, as it's difficult to maintain an emotional attachment to things truly unknown. This was different, though; we've seen John and Ace in interviews, yet you wanted to believe that all of these characters in the book somehow defied time and space, and that they would be able to relive these precious few years at their whim. Maybe one day, they will all be able to, all of them reuniting for a playful romp with Christian, his friends, and offspring.

Yes, I believe so.
post #2 of 3
It is a lovely book. I read it at Safeway about a month ago. It isn't very long and I read pretty fast, so I stood in the aisle and read it there.

I loved all of the pictures in it too.

It's unfortunately that most of the other lions in the area didn't accept Christian and that he eventually had to travel away from his "home" in order to find his own space, thus leaving his life and ending a complete mystery.

I like to think that he had his own Pride and that his genes were passed on to future generations.
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
It really is very bittersweet in that respect. At least there's solace in realizing that despite the uncertainty surrounding his future, this was clearly the best of all possible outcomes - Christian having his fate in his own hands - considering his humble, caged origins.
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