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Bambi, a Life in the Woods (Bambi, Eine Lebensgeschichte aus dem Walde) is a classic 1923 novel by Austrian author Felix Salten. It is a Coming-of-Age Story about a roe deer named "Bambi" as he grows up in a forest in Austria.

In 1939 Bambi received a sequel in Bambi's Children: The Forest of a Family (Bambis Kinder: Eine Familie im Walde) revolving around Bambi and Faline's offspring, Geno and Gurri.

In 1942 the first book received an Animated Adaptation in Disney's Bambi. Though Disney never animated Bambi's Childrennote , a Comic-Book Adaptation was made.


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These books contain examples of:

  • Allegorical Character: The hound and fox near the end of the novel.
  • An Aesop: Faline's brother Gobo appears to have been killed by a hunter in the same winter Bambi's mother died, only to return some time later as a full grown deer, and it turns out a human family had taken pity on him and made him a pet. This causes him to lose his fear of humans, which is ultimately his undoing.
  • Animal Religion: The animals believe humans to be some sort of god. Bambi eventually learns from the Great Prince that humans are mortal creatures too, and concludes that there must be a higher power which governs them both.
  • Animal Talk: All animals understand each other; Bambi can even converse with insects.
  • Anyone Can Die: Most notably, Bambi's mother, Gobo and the Prince at the end. Several minor characters also die.
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  • Capital Letters Are Magic: Humans are referred to as "He" with a captial H. Interestingly, the term used in the movies, "Man", is only used once, and in the summary for the first book rather than in-universe.
  • Continuity Nod: In Bambi's Children, Gobo's death at the hands of man is brought up early on.
  • Disabled Badass: Ronno has a lame leg due to being shot in it, but is still capable and manages to survive fine in the forest.
  • Disappeared Dad: As is normal with roe deer, the fathers are not present in their children's lives. Even Bambi has become distant from his mate and children by the end, though he takes a more fatherly role in Bambi's Children.
  • False Friend: Gobo assumes that because he was rescued by a human, they would all be a friend to him. He is killed by a hunter not long after.
  • G-Rated Sex: During mating season, Bambi feels the need to always be near his cousin Faline. Eventually his feelings wane but Faline later gives birth to his twins.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Nettla fills this role, even referred to as Old Nettla.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu:
    • The animals believe that humans are some kind of god. Near the end, the Prince shows Bambi the corpse of a man who was shot by someone. Bambi then realizes that humans aren't all-powerful beings, but mortal creatures like the animals, concluding there must be Another superior to them both.
    • Also, one of Bambi's cousins, Faline's brother Gobo, disappears for a year before returning with a halter around his neck. He says he is now cared for by a human, and that man is not always cruel but can be a friend. The other animals are confused by this, some believing him, others denying it, and Gobo is also reluctant to admit he's now a pet. Later he sees a human in a meadow, and runs to it to show the animals the kindness of his master, but the other human turns out to be a hunter who kills him.
    • Downplayed in Bambi's Children; while the animals are still afraid of humans and understand their ways dimly at best, humans are portrayed in a more nuanced light with good and evil individuals.
  • Kids Are Cruel: A minor antagonist of Bambi's Children is an unnamed kid who steals his dad's hunting rifle to poach fawns. The Gamekeeper catches him in the act and sends him off, but he returns later and is about to kill Bambi's son Geno, only for Bambi himself to intervene by ramming the kid from behind, sending him running back home in fear and pain.
  • Kissing Cousins: Bambi's mother and Faline's mother (Aunt Ena) are sisters, making the two first cousins. As adults the two pair up and have children.
  • Les Collaborateurs: The doe Marena believes that humans and deer could live in peace, pairing up with an overconfident young buck who has rescued by humans and has lost his fear. She soon finds out that trying to befriend humans is suicide.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Subverted. The whole moral of the book is Bambi realizing that, in order to live long and gain wisdom, you have to live alone and learn self-reliance.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Unlike in the movie, the paternity of any of the deer is uncertain. While in the movie, Bambi was explicitly the son of the Great Prince, in the book there is nothing proving that the two are related at all, although they do come to have a father/son relationship. The closest to confirmation given on such things is only an implication that the pair of fawns Bambi meets at the end of the novel are his own.
  • Nature Is Not Nice: The novel does not gloss over the cruel parts of animal life.
  • No Fathers Allowed: Does usually don't know who fathered their children. During the breeding season, Bambi becomes head-over-heels for his cousin, Faline and rarely wants to leave her side. After she becomes pregnant, Bambi finds his interest in Faline quickly waning until he can't stand to be around her anymore and runs off to live alone. This reflects real bucks' behavior, who mate and leave without helping to raise fawns.
  • Parental Neglect: Subverted. Partway through the book, Bambi's, Faline's, and Gobo's mothers start leaving their children alone for hours on end and get irritated when they try to follow. To a human's point-of-view, it looks like the mothers act this way. However, this is perfectly normal deer behavior. The mothers are just teaching their children to be independent.
  • Parental Substitute:
    • After his mother dies, Bambi is taken in by Old Nettla.
    • As an adult, Bambi develops a father/son relationship with his mentor, the Great Prince.
  • Protagonist Title: Bambi is the protagonist of the first novel.
  • Raised In Captivity: Gobo was taken in by humans as a fawn and reared until adulthood. After being let back into the wild, it's clear that he's lost his self-preservation skills. He also thinks that he's friends with all humans, which leads to his death when he approaches a hunter.
  • Sequel: Bambi's Children, which offers perspective flips between the animals and human characters, and is Lighter and Softer than the original book. Humankind is also portrayed in a much more nuanced light, with one of them being a generally benevolent gamekeeper note  who is concerned for the welfare of the animals (even taking in Bambi's daughter and nursing her back to health after she is attacked and injured by a fox) and even fights off a poacher and a cruel kid who stole his father's rifle to illegally hunt fawns. Perri the Squirrel, who appeared in his own book that was a midquel to Bambi, is also a minor character in Bambi's Children.
  • Spin-Off: Perri The Youth Of A Squirrel is a story about a red squirrel set during the events of Bambi, and Bambi himself makes a cameo appearance. Perri subsequently appears as a named supporting character in Bambi's Children. Disney made a Live-Action Adaptation of Perri for their True Life Adventures series in the 1950's.
  • Spin-Offspring: The sequel, Bambi's Children, stars Bambi's twin fawns.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Gobo. When Bambi and Faline reunite with him, he no longer has his wild wariness and caution around humans, much to Bambi's consternation. It doesn't help that his girlfriend Marena believes in peace with humans in a borderline-Suicidal Pacifist way — she ends up sadder but wiser when his foolishness does him in.
  • Unnamed Parent: Bambi's mother. Subverted with Aunt Ena, Faline's and Gobo's mother.
  • Unto Us a Son and Daughter Are Born: Bambi and Faline have two children, a buck and a doe named Geno and Gurri.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Bambi with Karus and Ronno. Both were friendly to Bambi when he was a juvenile; but when Bambi matures enough to become a rival for does, these two drive him off whenever they see him. After Bambi finally fights and soundly defeats them both, they don't dare come near him anymore.note 
  • Wham Episode: The chapter where the hunters arrive involves the violent death of several characters, including Bambi's mother (though the film portrays it more dramatically).
  • Xenofiction:
    • The xenofiction aspect is far more pronounced in the original books than in the Disney film. The deer behave in ways that seem unusual or even cruel to humans, but are normal for deer. The fawns' mothers act snappish towards them after weaning them and begin leaving them alone for long periods of time, in contrast to the film where Bambi is always near his mother. Bambi becomes infatuated with Faline during mating season, but finds himself distancing himself from her afterwards.
    • One chapter involves sentient autumn leaves. This got a nod in the Disney animated version, where the two falling leaves come down to rest on the ground together.
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