Wednesday, May 03, 2006

"The Jungle Book" - Rudyard Kipling

Forget singing bears and monkeys and think monkeys being eaten by snakes and limping man-eating tigers and sniveling jackals. Think brave little mongooses, brave horses and noble white seals. That's the reality of Kipling's "The Jungle Book" and not Phil Harris and Louie Prima. The real Shere Khan's nowhere near as silkily evil as George Sanders.

"The Jungle Book" is really a collection of short stories; 3 about Mowgli, the boy raised by wolves and 4 others about the lives and opinions of other animals, most notably Rikki Tikki Tavi the Mongoose. For all the anthropomorphization inherent in talking animals these creatures live in the real world where nature's "red in tooth and claw." There is death, both justified and simply as a matter of fact in the daily course of nature. Some of the tales are also interesting insights into life during the Raj.

The stories are exciting and beautifully told. Kipling has too often been dismissed as just a stooge for imperialism but here's a place where that arguement won't even come up. If you only know the story from the Disney movie do your self a favor and read the originals. They're true children's stories from a time when children weren't just spoon fed self congratulatory crap.

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