There are only a few great works of literature that have been written by grouse. To date, none have been made available to a human audience. I am grateful to Arvan Press for being the first publisher to take the plunge and to begin a series of translated grouse classics. I am hoping that with the translation and online publication of The Flower, grouse literature will become easily available to all those wishing to extend their reading repertoire.
The Flower is the work of Golo Tchi the legendary founder of the Feral-Den movement that started in the 1960’s. The Flower is a biographical account of life in the Nookton Settlement. The two volumes of text have been translated from the original Other-Writ which is one of the many written forms of Beak-Speak, the principle language spoken by most avian societies and Feather-Brain, the cerebral linguistic arrangement experienced universally by all rusticulae.
Other-Writ is a particularly difficult language to translate. Until recently, grouse used language for purely practical purposes. Grouse poetry did exist but it was very rare to find any grouse that would understand what it was for. The idea of writing as art, would have been a strange concept to many grouse until quite recently.
The Nookton forms of Beak-Speak and Other-Writ, have been influenced by those other animalian cultures that share the same geographical location, namely, the heather-bound fells of the North Pennines. The strongest of these influences comes from the weasel tradition. Weasels have, it must be said, lived on Nookton Fell far longer than any other group. One can also find traces of raptorial philosophical thinking in both Beak-Speak and Other-Writ. All this makes the task of the translator particularly daunting.
The Flower is pure biographical indulgence. The work gives the reader a wonderful glimpse into the lives of both ordinary and extraordinary grouse existing in their unique culture from day to day. The Flower illustrates the lives of moorland grouse through very creative and beautiful prose. It appears that Golo Tchi’s intention was to provide a cultural stimulus to the very pragmatic and uncreative Feather-Brain forms of thought that all grouse are enslaved to. Since the publication of The Flower, other literary works have followed and it is now more common to find a grouse reading and worrying about grammar than it is to find them participating in social gargling and tail-wagging.
Golo Tchi’s biographical account of life in the Nookton Settlement is, without doubt, a work of genius. What makes this particular work extraordinary is the author’s inclusion of both human and mythological cultural perspectives. What Tchi was trying to do, it seems, was to put grouse culture into its rightful place within a universal context. Human and grouse cultures are very much interlinked, never more so than in the North Pennines. Furthermore, human and grouse mythology responds to the same spiritual needs in both cultures.
It is unsure whether Arthur, the main human character in The Flower, actually existed or whether he was a fictional character added to the story to support Tchi’s purposes. If Arthur was real then it would seem that Tchi went to great lengths to understand him, as his knowledge of the man and his life was astonishing. Either way, the addition of Arthur’s story reveals Tchi’s extensive knowledge of the human way of life.
While The Flower represents an extraordinary event in grouse history, this cannot be said of Golo Tchi’s other cultural contribution. The Feral-Nest movement has endured almost until the present day. This movement is considered by many important and influential grouse, to have had a negative impact on the uptake of grouse technology and the adoption of modern approaches to egg-nesting. The influence of Tchi’s thinking regarding a return to a more natural lifestyle, sometimes reveals itself in the chapters of The Flower. Some grouse scholars believe that the biography was written primarily to promote feral living but others, including the great thinker Pic Nick, dispute those claims as, ‘mere assumptions based on primitive Feather-Brain conventionality.’
The translation of The Flower has taken many years, a good deal of patience and a lot of poetic license. Few literary translators would have considered such a task but Adam Lee is no ordinary interpreter of animalian languages. His most recent success has been the translation of Cluck ButterSlip’s autobiography: My Life as an Azure Tit.
I invite you then, to come on a journey with me and discover the first literary work of Grouse to be translated into English. It is a work that I am so proud to have helped prepare for publication.