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The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book – 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[1] have admired the power of his storytelling.[1] The book has been influential in the scout movement, whose founder, Robert Baden-Powell, was a friend of Kipling’s.[2] Percy Grainger composed his Jungle Book Cycle around quotations from the book.

Editorial Reviews

I must have seen the Disney movie a hundred times when I was little and still remember some of the songs to this date… So I was really looking forward to finally read the original story the movie was based on. And let me tell you, the people of Disney have interpreted Mowgli’s story VERY loosely. I personally didn’t mind that much since it has been ages since I last saw the movie in the first place, but I can imagine true fans of the movie will be surprised when they start reading the classic. I really liked Rudyard Kipling’s story of Mowgli though and was surprised by how easy it was to understand the prose. It shows in the dialogue this story was written in the 19th century, but the rest of The Jungle Book didn’t feel dated at all. I really enjoyed reading the original version of Mowgli and probably would have rated this book even higher if it wouldn’t have been for the other stories included afterwards. I’ve seen others like those four stories about seals, the mongoose, an elephant and animals used in the army better, but I personally prefered Mowgli. All in all this was definitely still a very positive experience reading a classic and I’m glad I made time to read The Jungle Book.

About the Author

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (/ˈrʌdjərd/; 30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)[1] was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist.

Kipling’s works of fiction include The Jungle Book (1894), Kim (1901), and many short stories, including “The Man Who Would Be King” (1888).[2] 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 regarded as a major innovator in the art of the short story;[3] his children’s books are classics of children’s literature, and one critic described his work as exhibiting “a versatile and luminous narrative gift”.[4][5]

Kipling was one of the most popular writers in the United Kingdom, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[3] Henry James said: “Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius, as distinct from fine intelligence, that I have ever known.”[3] In 1907, at the age of 42, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize and its youngest recipient to date.[6] He was also sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, both of which he declined

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