BooksOfTheMoon

The Second Jungle Book

By Rudyard Kipling

Rating: 4 stars

The Second Jungle Book contains several stories of the jungle and beyond, as well as finishing the story of the Man Cub, Mowgli over several hops. The end of the first Jungle Book saw Mowgli return to the jungle after a bad experience in a local village, and this describes some of his further adventures, now as master of the jungle. The final story here, The Spring Running which the book itself describes as “the last of the Mowgli stories” had me blubbing at the end. It describes the change that comes in spring and Mowgli’s unrecognised urge to return to mankind.

There are other non-Mowgli stores as well, of course. The creation myth of the elephants, the story of an ancient crocodile lurking in a river by the banks of the village and the story a holy man are all marvellous additions to the Jungle Book canon. I was less entranced by the Eskimo story Quiquern and I’m not sure why. It just didn’t work for me.

But apart from that, the stories are all excellent. Kipling once again betrays a love of India and its people, even if he does allow the image of the supreme White Man to surface occasionally.

Book details

ISBN: 9780140367836
Publisher: Puffin Books
Year of publication: 1895

The Man Who Would Be King & Other Stories

By Rudyard Kipling

Rating: 3 stars

I enjoyed this collection of short stories by Kipling, although they do have a lot of the chest-puffing Empire stuff that people often think about when they think of Kipling, which has mostly been missing from other works of his that I’ve read. These stories are all set in or around India and the first half all seem to revolve around love, infidelity and boredom in Simla, the summer capital of the Raj. That said, there are some crackers in the collection, from the title story of two men who try to set themselves up as gods to a remote tribe, to the heartwrenching story Baa Baa, Black Sheep about two children who are taken from their parents in India to live with a cold-hearted aunt in England.

A fascinating insight into the British Raj in India through the eyes of a great writer of the day. But as well as this, the stories also still stand up, as stories although you do have to filter them through a lens of what was appropriate for the time.

Book details

ISBN: 9781853262098
Publisher: Wordsworth Editions

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

By Rudyard Kipling

Rating: 4 stars

Kipling gets a bit of a bad rep these days but I enjoyed this collection of children’s stories. The stories all come from Kipling’s other work, including both Jungle Books and The Just-So Stories and often have a moral at the end. I’ve not read much Kipling so I hadn’t encountered that many of these before (only the ones from the first Jungle Book). There is also some poetry in the book, including His Apologies, a lovely, sad poem about a dog.

I think Kipling needs to be seen in the context of his time and I get the impression from the stories set in India that he really loved that country, and had learned about the people and its history. I can’t see the arrogance and condescension that is often attributed to him.

Book details

ISBN: 9780060587857
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year of publication: 1894

Short Stories 2: The Friendly Brook and Other Stories

By Rudyard Kipling

Rating: 2 stars

This was an odd collection of Kipling’s stories. There wasn’t much of the Empire-drum-banging that is so often associated with Kipling; most of these stories were written after his return to England and disillusionment with the country, particularly after the Great War. The War runs through a lot of these stories, a vein of terrible sadness, Kipling’s son having died in it.

With a lot of the stories I felt that I didn’t get some of the context that surrounded them. They were written about a hundred years ago and a lot of what Kipling took for granted just isn’t around any more. Also, I don’t think that I got an awful lot out of them, since I was reading them as I would a modern story while I feel that they probably needed to be read more like literature – preferably in a group where it can be discussed and analysed, and I’m not sure I want to put that much effort into them.

Book details

ISBN: 9780140032826
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year of publication: 1971

The Jungle Book

By Rudyard Kipling

Rating: 3 stars

I’ve never read The Jungle Book before (although I used to love the Disney film) so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I knew about Kipling’s views on empire and so forth, but this was quite a charming book of fables, using the stories to provide morals. Less than half of it is taken up by Mowgli’s adventures with the rest being unrelated short stories, including the mongoose Rikki-Tikki-Tavi’s fight against the snakes and the white seal Kotick’s search for a safe haven for seals, where humans won’t hunt them.

Book details

ISBN: 9780812504699
Publisher: Tor Classics
Year of publication: 1893

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