By , translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp
Published in the UK by Allen Lane (2017) in the USA by Liveright (2018)
Farewell to the Horse is an engaging, brilliantly written and moving discussion of what horses once meant to us. Cities, farmland, entire industries were once shaped as much by the needs of horses as humans. The intervention of horses was fundamental in countless historical events. They were sculpted, painted, cherished, admired; they were thrashed, abused and exposed to terrible danger. From the Roman Empire to the Napoleonic Empire, every world conqueror needed to be shown on a horse. Tolstoy once reckoned he had cumulatively spent some nine years of his life on horseback.
Ulrich Raulff ’s book, a bestseller in Germany, brilliantly translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, is a superb monument to the endlessly various creature who has so often shared and shaped our fate.
– publisher’s blurb
‘This unusual book is a series of airy, winging essays that alight briefly on world history, art, literary criticism and historiography before leaping on to make new, often surprising connections. […] This is not the Pony Club Manual or a trot through the more familiar sights of equestrian art history; it’s Kafka, Aby Warburg, Tolstoy, psychoanalytic theory, Nietzsche and bleak monochrome photos in the style of Sebald. This epic enterprise is relieved by Raulff’s spare, vivid style and deep learning. He is as comfortable analysing the etymology of Pferd and Ross as he is discussing the Chicago School, Clint Eastwood and the Amazons, and he rarely loses his audience.’
‘A beautiful and thoughtful exploration of the role of the horse in creating our world… Farewell to the Horse is a grown-up, but also lyrical and creative, history book, and I very much enjoyed it.’
– James Rebanks
‘In his conclusion you feel the deep underlying affection that drives his historical mission. “Anthropologists see the man, historians see the farmer, technologists see the plough and perhaps someone will even be interested in the harness,” Raulff laments, “whereas nobody feels responsible for the horse.” This refined and ambitious book corrects that tragic neglect.’
‘Sex, violence and 6,000 years of horse power: Melanie Reid enjoys an elegy to the way horses have galloped through our culture’
‘As you pick up the reins of this books – trying to get a sense of what sort of ride it is to be – it becomes evident within three paragraphs that you have never read a book like it. […] Raulff’s ability to corral scattered equestrians in art, letters and life makes scintillating reading and his writerly pace is exhilarating – especially when he takes flight from his own starting gates.’
‘Mr Raulff gallops through time and space, art criticism, philosophy and economics, plaiting in tales of Kafka, Tolstoy and Comanche, the hard-drinking stallion who was the only non-Indian survivor of the Battle of Little Bighorn. His is a category-defying, often dizzying, piece of writing; both books are imbued with hippophilia.’