Friday, July 20, 2007

The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling

This might be the best book I've read all year. Kids can read it, sure. I probably would have loved it when I was little, but I think I would have missed out on all the undertones that Kipling pours into every story.

First you should know that Rudyard Kipling was born and raised in India, studied in England and lived his married life in Vermont. He sounds like a pretty rugged guy, maybe on par with Bear Grylls. So he knows what he's talking about when it comes to lions and elephants and the rest of the bunch.

Secondly, I have to say that Mowgli is a bad ass. I mean he hangs out with wolves all day and then kills Shere Kahn with his bare hands. Hardcore. I want to be him.

There's more to The Jungle Books than action. These are stories about a deep-rooted disenchantment with the modern world. In one story, "Letting in the Jungle," Mowgli becomes upset with a small Indian village that's been encroaching on the forest, so with the help of Hathi the elephant, they topple every building in the town. There's sticking it to the man for ya. Mowgli 1, Urban Sprawl 0. This theme pops up in almost every story.

Kipling also creates an order within Jungle life. It's a natural order, not one fabricated with plastic by men in ties. In the jungle hierarchy, humans are pretty far down - again, dissatisfaction with modern living - but Mowgli spans the gap. He's more than just an action adventure star. He's the model citizen, that which we should emulate.

There are some other jewels here other than the Mowgli stories. "Rikki Tikki Tavi" is excellent. If you never read this when you were little, it's not too late. If you did read it, I think it merits a second look.

8 comments:

Carlton said...

Didn't Mowgli return to live with people? Or was that just in the Disney movie? I get most of my information from animated classics.

Kelly said...

Yeah, he ended up meeting a girl and going off to live with her, but then the book ends a sentence later. And Disney movies were awesome, and usually educational.

Carlton said...

Agreed.

Christopher said...

Now I'm the king of the swingers
Oh, the jungle VIP
I've reached the top and had to stop
And that's what botherin' me
I wanna be a man, mancub
And stroll right into town
And be just like the other men
I'm tired of monkeyin' around!

Oh, oobee doo
I wanna be like you
I wanna walk like you
Talk like you, too
You'll see it's true
An ape like me
Can learn to be humen too

Christopher said...

The "humen" is sic from the website I copied it from

Carlton said...

So...Disney supports evolution.

Christopher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher said...

My pro-evolution post has been removed by George W. Bush's censors. Damn George W. Bush and his Amerikkka!