The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book

1894

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling is an adventure story about a man-cub named Mowgli. Mowgli is hunted by an evil tiger named Shere Khan. Mowgli tries to live a peaceful life with other humans, but is too wild for them and too human for the wolves. ...

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Children's literatureFiction

24 Pages
4.4

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The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling is an adventure story about a man-cub named Mowgli. Mowgli is hunted by an evil tiger named Shere Khan. Mowgli tries to live a peaceful life with other humans, but is too wild for them and too human for the wolves. Eventually Mowgli finds a home in the jungle with a pack of his own.

The Jungle Book (1894) is a collection of stories by the English author Rudyard Kipling. Most of the characters are animals such as Shere Khan the tiger and Baloo the bear, though a principal character is the boy or "man-cub" Mowgli, who is raised in the jungle by wolves. The stories are set in a forest in India; one place mentioned repeatedly is "Seonee" (Seoni), in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

 

A major theme in the book is abandonment followed by fostering, as in the life of Mowgli, echoing Kipling's own childhood. The theme is echoed in the triumph of protagonists including Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and The White Seal over their enemies, as well as Mowgli's. Another important theme is of law and freedom; the stories are not about animal behaviour, still less about the Darwinian struggle for survival, but about human archetypes in animal form. They teach respect for authority, obedience, and knowing one's place in society with "the law of the jungle", but the stories also illustrate the freedom to move between different worlds, such as when Mowgli moves between the jungle and the village. Critics have also noted the essential wildness and lawless energies in the stories, reflecting the irresponsible side of human nature.

 

The Jungle Book has remained popular, partly through its many adaptations for film and other media. Critics such as Swati Singh have noted that even critics wary of Kipling for his supposed imperialism have admired the power of his storytelling.The book has been influential in the scout movement, whose founder, Robert Baden-Powell, was a friend of Kipling's. Percy Grainger composed his Jungle Book Cycle around quotations from the book.

 

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in India, which inspired much of his work.

 

Kipling's works of fiction include The Jungle Book (1894), Kim (1901), and many short stories, including "The Man Who Would Be King" (1888). His poems include "Mandalay" (1890), "Gunga Din" (1890), "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" (1919), "The White Man's Burden" (1899), and "If—" (1910). He is seen as an innovator in the art of the short story. His children's books are classics; one critic noted "a versatile and luminous narrative gift".

 

Review:

HaveanInkaboutit (Milo O'D)

theguardian.com

There is probably not a single child in the world without a preconceived idea of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. Show me one who doesn't know about Mowgli's adventures through the jungle with bumbling, kindly Baloo and cunning Bagheera, thanks to Disney's version of the book.

 

However, start reading the original and all preconceived notions might as well be thrown out the window. This is a dark and often unhappy tale which left me nervous and frightened and is more prone to cause a nightmare than a sweet dream.

 

Kipling tells the story of little Mowgli, a village boy who falls into the hands of a pack of wolves who raise him as their own in the Indian jungle. As he matures he starts to understand the 'Law of the Jungle' and the book follows his many adventures alongside the myriad creatures around him. Those include Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther, who become his tutors and protectors. As a child reader, one of the most disturbing parts of this relationship is the physical violence Baloo and Bagheera continuously seem to use against Mowgli as part of their teaching.

 

'Bagheera gave him half a dozen love taps (…) but for a seven-year-old boy [this] amounted to as severe a beating as you could wish to avoid.' I found it very difficult to like these two characters because of this abuse towards Mowgli and without sympathetic characters to relate to the book was hard to enjoy. I wanted Mowgli to escape from these two almost as much as I wanted him to escape the terrible monkeys. I don't think Kipling intended the reader to feel this way, but perhaps in his days, hitting a child was more common.

 

Kipling does manage to create an intense world that sucks you in with his descriptions of the jungle and the creatures that live there. I felt myself hearing the strange noises, feeling the ground slither with snakes and sweating in the heat of the penetrating environment of the jungle's overpowering force. When Mowgli swings from the vines in the gripped of the monkeys I thought it was a moment of release and wanted him to swing to freedom. But once again, the terror of the place gets the better of him and he is back down below suffering another beating for getting himself into trouble.

 

After reading this classic, I actually felt rather bewildered: it didn't contain a single character that I either understood or felt empathy towards. I should have felt some harmony with Mowgli as a young boy, but I didn't understand why he was not miserable in his situation. Why would he like and respect Baloo and Bagheera when they physically hurt him for no reason at all?

 

The books I enjoy give me a character I can understand and root for, but in my opinion The Jungle Book has failed here. Rather than a page-turner I found myself fearful to turn the pages of Kipling's book, as I knew I would be haunted by Mowgli's sad existence.

 

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