Plain Tales from the Hills
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Plain Tales from the Hills

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  620 ratings  ·  49 reviews
1888. Kipling, English short-story writer, novelist and poet, who celebrated the heroism of British colonial soldiers in India and Burma, he was the first Englishman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907. Kipling's first collection of stories published in journals, contains tales about India and about the British in India. He establishes the subject which inspi...more
Paperback, 158 pages
Published November 3rd 2006 by Hard Press (first published 1888)
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This is a difficult book for me to review, since I read it as a freebie e-book. The table of contents sucks, and I can't go back and navigate the book -- at least not in a way that I can figure out. You get what you pay for. That said, a lot of these Kipling short story collections ARE available free. If you want to read these short stories in their original collection context (as opposed to some collection anthology), you can do so.

I read Plain Tales over a considerable stretch of time, so it'...more
C. Owen
Too many people, when reviewing Kipling, review what the they assume to be the man, not his work. It is fashionable to think of Kipling as a nasty imperialist bigot, and all then flows from that opinion. In the end, such exercises, while occasionally entertaining, are pointless.

Kipling was a writer of genius who contributed a great deal to the art of the short story and part of the joy of "Plain Tales from the Hills" is that we get to see him developing: he wrote these stories between the ages o...more
Kathy Cowley
This is book number two in my challenge to read the complete works of Rudyard Kipling, in the order in which they were published.

I have fond memories of Kipling's Just So Stories from when I was a child, and I was later exposed to several of his short stories during my undergraduate years. After having read Plain Tales from the Hills I feel like I can say that if you want to understand the genre of the short story or learn how to write it, read Rudyard Kipling. He mixes character with the right...more
Dec 03, 2008 Peter rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kipling devotees
Shelves: classic
Rudyard Kipling's Kim is one of my favorite books in the world. For the few hours every year that I spend re-reading it, I'm in a magical world. And the ending never fails to leave me with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

I've read and deeply enjoyed Kipling's Jungle Books as well. So when I heard, around fifteen years ago, that Kipling had written many more stories set in the India of his youth, and that some of them even featured Strickland Sahib from Kim, I immediately headed over to...more
Feb 10, 2009 Wayne rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in India, the British raj and good storytelling.
Recommended to Wayne by: a close friend
When I began this I really enjoyed Kipling's fresh style and his hopping right into the stories - no beating about the bush, no longwindedness. Perhaps it reflected his youth, as he was only 22 when they were published, his first book, and they were to make him famous.
Deservedly so and a remarkable achievement.

Enjoyed, that is, until I hit the second gobbledygook tale written in some atrocious, supposedly Irish, dialect as narrated by one Mulvaney.
There were to be four of these endurance tests c...more
This is a whole series of short stories telling about numerous individuals in Colonial India and tales as told about those individuals. The hills are where the British escaped to in the higher latitudes to avoid the heat of the Indian summer that everyone else had to endure. The author is the listener and he relates to us each of the stories told to him, which are as varied as the British civil servants could be. There were though three stories that I just didn't bother reading because they were...more
Douglas Dalrymple
Crisp, memorable storytelling. I was reminded of two other books, which couldn’t be more different from each other, but which each share something in common with Kipling’s early work in this collection of tales.

First, Turgenev’s A Sportsman’s Notebook. There’s something in the relaxed narrative tone, perhaps – wavering always between engaged/interested and disengaged/disinterested. You’re entirely in the narrator’s hands with both Turgenev and Kipling, but the author’s grasp is so perfectly con...more
Abigailann (Abigail)

A series of short stories encompassing a range of styles and moral tales. There were sections of this book which I really enjoyed, sections which I found charming, some which I found educational and others which were hard because they were written as if someone was speaking with a strong accent. The whole book felt dated, but not necessarily in a bad way. It was almnost funny sometimes to see how attitudes and moral standards have changed since the book was written. Definatly worth a delve into,...more

Born in Bombay in 1865, Rudyard Kipling launched his literary career with Plain Tales from the Hills and, in 1907, became the first English writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize. Many of the stories in this book were originally published in a Lahore newspaper for which Kipling worked as a journalist. Later, he revised them to re-create as vividly as possible the sights and smells of India for English readers. Including "Lispeth," "Beyond the Pale," and "In the Pride of His Youth," this collection

A reading that brought me close to the real giants of literature.

I must admit my reticence to read from them in (this case) their original language in fear of missing a lot due to my not so good proficiency in English. And it has been shown without any trace of doubt that the latter is not so good. At least, I was not so contended with myself that I did not know it in advance.

And even I can hardly managed to go through the Irish "accent" of private Mulvaney, "The Taking of Lungtungpen" will sta...more
If you could remove the Mulvaney stories, this would be a five star review. Kipling writes beautifully except when he is attempting to transcribe accents. The book works as a whole because of the recurrence of various characters, and the consistent style of the narrator. It's astonishing to think how young he was when he wrote these.
I really enjoyed this book especially because I read it while traveling in Sri Lanka which - while a different country - shares much of the weather and the colonial traditions with India. Not having read Kipling before, one of the things that surprised me most is Kipling's sardonic sense of humour and his wry observations about people. He never ever descends into bitterness or a cheap shot. Yes it is dated in subject matter and culture but it remains a very rewarding read. Here is a writer who t...more
My generation doesn't read Kipling as he is regarded as old fashioned, unintellectual and imperialist. So, I surprised myself a year or two ago by finding his poetry not to be as bad as I'd expected. Some bits were rather good and more was if you edited the poems. Plus I liked the films of Jungle Book and the Man Who Would be King, so perhaps it was time to take the plunge and read some Kipling.

Sad to say the criticisms are valid. Possibly exacerbated by the short story format which is never my...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in June 2001.

Kipling's first collection, of stories published in journals, contains a large number of quite short stories. They are all about India, and nearly all about the British in India. He establishes the subject which inspired so much of his work right at the beginning; that is, how India affected the British soldiers and officials who worked there. (Of course, the British changed India too, but that is not what Kipling chose to write about, and in man...more
Jun 15, 2010 Hazel rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: social historians
Thanks to Keely for reminding me of Kipling's short stories. This should be fun.


This is Kipling's youthful work, and the stories are not sophisticated in structure, nor language. My impression is that they were a very accurate portrait of life in the Raj, for the masters, anyway. I'm familiar with some of them, but found the sincere racism of others intolerable. There's a fair amount of misogyny here, too. It's telling that this book was a major hit at the turn of the century.

I looked...more
Divij Sood
after reading two really horrible books by kipling (just so stories, captains courageous), this book finally showed why he is considered a good author. simple stories without unnecessary fluff make this book a mostly enjoyable experience.
although i enjoyed reading kipling this time around, i am still not convinced that he deserved a nobel for his writing. next book on the list is Kim. Maybe that will change my opinion!
I found this collection of short stories, all dealing with the life of British military and civilians in colonial India, very much a mixed bag. (That seems to be my reaction to Kipling in general—some of his works I love; others I just don't get.) They range in tone from the cheerful and whimsical to cynical or macabre. India is something that always seems to be lurking in the background of Victorian England and its culture and literature, so it's rather interesting to get a glimpse at the worki...more
David Aument
No matter what you think of Kipling, he is a great short story writer. Even when the topic of the stories aren't terribly interesting, the stories are very well-written. Worth a read, especially if you like the short story format.
I only had to read 4 stories from this, but I got wrapped into Kipling's satirical writing! I personally found it entertaining, and each story seems to have a little life lesson to accompany it.

A good read for any historian with a literary interest.
Chas Bayfield
Kipling evokes the India of the Raj perfectly. In this collection of stories written (incredibly) in his early twenties, he tells tales of cunning, of disgrace, of failure and also of the tedium that goes with being in a colony thousands of miles from Britain. Kipling visits some of his characters several times and this adds weight that these were real people simply with their names changed. In fact, Strickland, the police officer who is also a master of disguise was my great great grandfather!...more
My parents had a library of Modern Classics that I inherited. I needed to read a book about India for a challenge, so I was looking for Kim. I couldn't find it in the collection but I found this book of short stories. These were some of the first stories that Kipling published. The collection has a date of 1888. They take place in the "British Raj" and are told from the perspective of a British observer. Some of the stories are very delightful and humorous but some are very dark and sad. All in...more
Kipling is a great storyteller, and it shows in many of these "tales." He uses the story collection format to maximum benefit by means of recurring characters, which he is able to develop at greater depth over multiple stories than would be possible in one story alone. Surprisingly, I found his description of Anglo-Indian regimental life quite similar to that of a 21st-century American graduate student.
Dec 11, 2009 Leslie is currently reading it
I am currently plodding through these stories when I get a burst of energy to work on my research/book about my great-grandfather. He was aquainted with Kipling in The Punjab and is rumored to be the basis for the character Mulvaney. I am trying to get a sense of the time and place for that period of his life and a sense of his personality. In the meantime, the stories are really entertaining.
These are short stories of British India, mainly regiment stories. Each story starts with a short poem or a saying from native Indian sources. There are very few stories that refer to Indian characters, but almost all of such stories have a tragedy written in them. Some characters appear in more than one story. Kipling writes in a beautiful language, simple stories from the Shimla hills.
I dont care what Orwell said, Kipling sucks. He is racist, jingoist, and his writing stinks. The vast majority of these stories are boring tales about British people in India. Okay, it's good that someone was writing about this stuff when no one else was, but why write such drivel?
I just love these stories, if nothing else it shows me what makes me tick in the comfort of thinking i am reading about other people`s bad habits and sins.It shows us our own core motivations, it`s like looking.
into a mirror and being shown one of the caracters faces.
Bryan Paul Sullo
Oct 16, 2012 Bryan Paul Sullo rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those looking to broaden their horizons
As an American, I found a book written by a man from a different culture (British) about a foreign country (India) during a different time (the late 1800's) a difficult read, but taking the time to learn the thrice-foreign terms and turns of phrase was well worth it in the end.
David Loveland
I only read a few of the stories and it seemed kinda average. I've been told that there is much more to the stories than meets the eye, so after my lecture/seminar on Kipling on Monday I might think differently towards this book... but then again, maybe not.
It's never easy to rate collections of short stories because some are better than others, but I liked most of these. I didn't enjoy the adventure collection of The Man Who Would be King and Other Stories, but I definitely enjoyed most of these.
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Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907 "in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author."

More about Rudyard Kipling...
The Jungle Books The Jungle Book Just So Stories Kim Captains Courageous

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“A woman's guess is much more accurate than a man's certainty.” 266 likes
“Now India is a place beyond all others where one must not take things too seriously—the midday sun always excepted.” 18 likes
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