This is perhaps the finest study of the mind of a dog ever written. The author is a famous Austrian novelist, a great stylist, and a man of extreme delicacy and subtlety of mind. He studies Bashan with such insight, and describes what he learnt with such art, that one feels that no one can ever again penetrate more deeply into that charming, wistful mystery, the mind of a dog, and his feeling towards mankind.
It was during the war that Thomas Mann, one of the great modern stylists, wrote this simple little idyll as a refuge and relief. It was a flight from the hideous realities of the world to the deeper realities of Nature, from the hate and inhumanity of man to the devotion and lovableness of the brute. This delectable symphony of human and canine psychology, of love of nature and of pensive humour, struck the true note of universality, a document packed with greater potencies in this direction than the deliberate, idealistic manifestos of the pacifists. It is for these reasons that the book has acquired a permanent charm, value, and significance, not only beyond the confines of the war and the confines of the author’s own land and language, but also beyond those of the period.
In every land there still exists the same friendly and primitive relation between man and the dog, brought to its fullest expression of strength and beauty in the environment of the green world, rural or suburban.
Simple and unpretentious as a statement by Francis d’Assisi, yet full of a gentle modern sophistication and humour, this little work will bring delight and refreshment to all who seek flight from the heavy-laden hour. It is, moreover, one of the most subtle and penetrating studies of the psychology of the dog that has ever been written—tender yet unsentimental, realistic and full of the detail of masterly observation and description, yet in its final form and precipitation a work of exquisite literary art.