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Rudyard Kipling and The Jungle Book

September 11, 2017

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I’m sorry to say that I’ve previously only been familiar with the Disney version of The Jungle Book, and while I was aware that the original was different, I didn’t realise that the almost entirely different story of Mowgli was only one of five included. Among the others we have the also-fairly-well-known story of Riki-Tikki-Tavi, a mongoose that saves a family by killing a couple of cobras and smashing their eggs, and ‘The While Seal’ which is about a seal (so not in the jungle) finding new a island where his friends and family will not be graphically slaughtered by humans. The mix of ecological concern and moralistic anthropomorphism does seem to be of another age, but the lack of condescension towards different cultures (and in fact different species!) is almost unique within an imperial context, and that’s most likely why it has survived as a cultural touchstone (and why ‘The White Man’s Burden’ has acquired quite a different reputation – but that’s for another time.)

Rudyard Kipling – The Jungle Book
Rudyard Kipling – The Jungle Book (full text)
Rudyard Kipling – The Jungle Book (free audiobook at Librivox)
In Our Time podcast on Rudyard Kipling

From → 1894

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