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The Village in the Jungle

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  168 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
This novel, set in Ceylon, follows the lives of a handful of villagers hacking out a fragile existence in a jungle where indiscriminate growth, indifferent fate and malevolent neighbours constantly threaten to overwhelm them.
Paperback, 209 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by Eland (first published 1913)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 523)
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There’s been a ferocious heat-wave where I live, with temperatures reaching degrees unheard of for decades. In a kind of sympathetic mirroring of such torrid days, my reading path took me from one blistering hot village in a jungle to another, from George Orwell’s Kyautada to Leonard Woolf’s Beddagama in the heart of Ceylon, now Srilanka.

Both books were written in the early decades of the twentieth century and are based on experiences gained by the authors while working as government agents in
Jan 19, 2013 Val rated it really liked it
Shelves: byt-empire
I knew Leonard Woolf wrote about political and colonial issues for the Fabian society, that he was generally acknowledged as the leader of the Bloomsbury group and I knew he was married to Virginia. I did know he had written this novel.
It deserves to be better known, as it really is rather good. The book is still highly regarded in Sri Lanka apparently, despite almost all the native characters being depicted as either rascally, corrupt or extremely stupid. The story is not a happy one and the co
Sep 29, 2012 Raisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book deserves more recognition than it's gotten. While it's seen as a classic in Sri Lanka, I don't know that it is elsewhere.

This book, set mostly in Sri Lankan jungle, follows the inhabitants of the village of Beddegama. It is atmospheric and gripping. Most of the inhabitants live hand to mouth and are heavily in debt to the headman, who doles out favours according to his whims.

Woolf describes the social hierarchy at work within this village, with administrative staff like the headman at
Harriet Steel
Mar 14, 2016 Harriet Steel rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
This minor classic is still highly regarded in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) although it isn't very well known here. That's probably because although Woolf was a perceptive and accomplished writer, he was put in the shade by his much more famous wife, Virginia.
The story of Beddagama, the village in the jungle of the title, and its inhabitants is told with insight and empathy for the hard lives of the villagers who are at the mercy of the corruption and cruelty of their headman and healer. The diff
Nandasiri Wanninayaka
Aug 21, 2014 Nandasiri Wanninayaka rated it it was amazing
The story of Village in the Jungle is full of acrimony. It is disgusting to see that human beings are subjected to such levels of torture and misery by their own neighbors and the administrators. Unfortunately the story of the novel is not unique only to Baddegama. It is the story of the rural Sri Lanka during colonial times. The story of the rural villages is not that different even today with all the advancement of technology and democracy we are supposed to enjoy.

Leonard Woolf selects a few c
Elizabeth Moffat
Dec 31, 2013 Elizabeth Moffat rated it really liked it
Shelves: byt
Leonard Woolf is probably most famous for his marriage to Virginia but was also a noted political theorist, publisher (The Hogarth Press) and “leader” of the notorious Bloomsbury Group. As Woolf spent seven years in Ceylon as a colonial officer, he had first hand knowledge of the area which makes the book more authentic in my eyes. It is set in Ceylon around 1900 and follows the villagers of Beddegama (which means literally “the village in the jungle”)through their daily struggles. Although ther ...more
Mar 17, 2009 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-fiction, asia
Set in colonial Ceylon, this novel is vivid and readable. While the author clearly illustrates a particular culture and time, that of a rural family in the "dry" forest area, where life is particularly hard and short, the psychological and social effects of poverty have universal qualities. While the colonial administration system is clearly one of the villains of the book, the gentle innocence of the main characters clearly would be a disadvantage under any system, at least as the world is port ...more
Sairam Krishnan
Jul 20, 2015 Sairam Krishnan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I came to this book via Samanth Subramanian's This Divided Island, and read it over a single bus journey from Bangalore to Madras. I just couldn't put it down. Leonard Woolf's classic Sri Lanka novel is perfect. Published in 1913, it is an extraordinary story of life in a Sinhalese village in the jungle. There aren't many characters - what is there is human drama, and a master writer at work. I shouldn't be surprised, though - the book has a beautiful dedication to someone called Virginia Woolf. ...more
Sep 15, 2014 Jesi rated it liked it
Well shit, that was bleak.
Mar 30, 2010 Nafiza rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2010
Maybe I'm reading it differently but he represents the "people" as less than people. Dehumanizes them in the grossest of manners. This may either be intentional or this may just be the way he saw the natives but either way, I hated it. Understand I read this in the context of anti-colonial discourse so... while it does give a clear indication of the way the "system" ran at the time - the power connections, I couldn't get over the fact that the people were shown as such depraved semi-humans.
Sally Tarbox
"Always evil is coming into this house from the jungle", August 31, 2014

This review is from: The Village in the Jungle (Paperback)
An engrossing tale, inspired by the author's time as assistant governor in the east of Sri Lanka. Set in a small village, it concerns the taciturn loner, Silindu, and his motherless twin daughters. Silindu is an outsider in his village, and prefers to spend his time away hunting in the jungle. But life is hard and desperately poor, and he finds himself at odds with th
Jul 15, 2014 Larissa rated it really liked it
This was so interesting. Horribly depressing and a little terrifying, but very interesting.

I happened across this minor classic novel at work. It was chosen by my library director as a featured book for one of our newsletters. I never heard of it before, but she discovered that it was written by the husband of Virginia Wolfe. I was curious enough to read a bit more about the novel and discovered it was about colonial Sri Lanka and that Leonard wrote it after being a general in Ceylon for many y
Well, I was determined this book wasn't going to defeat me and I have finally finished it! I initially started this in September, but got to the middle and a horrendously grim passage meant I had to put it down and I didn't pick it back up until yesterday. Normally I don't like that big of a break, as it normally means I have to re-read what has gone before because I've forgotten everything, but, as luck would have it, it was probably the best way to read it. If I had read it all the way through ...more
Ally Van Schilt
Aug 06, 2014 Ally Van Schilt rated it really liked it
This book is basically living proof that I should never being another books with low expectations - or maybe I should always have low expectations, because I actually really enjoyed this story! I was really not expecting much from the blurb (Jungle. Villagers. Wilderness. Colonialism.) but I loved how it was made to be so fresh and real, and like I was there really. Really sympathised with a lot of the characters, and really hated a lot of the antagonistic ones too. I'm looking forward to discus ...more
Jul 25, 2015 Richard rated it really liked it
Shelves: bloomsbury
Not going to write too much as I'm be writing more about this soon for school, but this is a great book. Set in Ceylon it tells of the trials of a father raising his two daughters in a small village (in the jungle). Very well written, and sucks you in with it's language and believable characters. Leonard I believe was woefully under estimated as a writer of fiction and this book is a good example of his mastery of the craft.
Adithya Vs
Jan 06, 2015 Adithya Vs rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Wonderful book. A raw, immaculate portrayal of the life of tribals. The most amazing thing about this book is how close he takes us to the raw feelings of the forest dwellers: the fears they have, their wishes and expectations, troubles and tortures.

The story traces the life of one family in a village called Baddegama, which is situated in the middle of a forest. It takes us through the difficulties of forest life, the harsh realities that they face,their beliefs and superstitions and the polit
Aleina Kreider
Sep 16, 2014 Aleina Kreider rated it liked it
The title is not the only similarity this book has with Sinclair's The Jungle. There are political similarities and so on (you know, socialism), but I think the thing that struck me most was just that basically everything that happens in this book is a major fucking bummer (to say the least).
Renuka Mendis
Jul 29, 2014 Renuka Mendis rated it really liked it
in the ripeness of time. soon.
Feb 11, 2016 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is bleak. I don't even know what else to say about it right now...
Bart Van den Bosch
Mar 25, 2010 Bart Van den Bosch rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Beautiful book about a very small village (actually a few huts) in the jungle of Ceylon around 1900. Intrigues between the people, murder, deceit,... All very realistically even naturalistically described but the husband of Virginia Woolf who was a diplomat at that time in Ceylon.
Mar 18, 2011 Sonia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, nook, 2011
This short book reads almost like folklore. It is the story of a hunter and his family in colonial Ceylon - their struggles to survive the hardships of the jungle and abuse of neighbors. Told beautifully by Leonard Woolf (Virginia's husband) who had worked as a magistrate in Ceylon.
Stuart Estell
Mar 08, 2011 Stuart Estell rated it really liked it
There are moments towards the end of this novel that are absolutely heartbreaking. It's a bit slow in places, and a bit "colonial" in feel, but it's a product of its time in its view of the primitive native. If you can take account of that while reading it, it's superb.
Dec 02, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the cyclic form of the novel as well as the mythology. A look at the imperialists as they struggle to actually aid their new "wards" and find a balance between their own views and those entrenched in the community (which has its own corruption).
Jun 30, 2009 H added it
Shelves: fiction-novel
Cool to see how different Leonard and Virginia were as writers.

Reads like a parable. Exotic but authoritative. The choice of flat, formal language for translated dialogue works well here to transfer the flavor of personality over from vernacular to content.
Dinah Jefferies
Dec 08, 2013 Dinah Jefferies rated it really liked it
First published in 1913 and written by the husband of Virginia Woolf. It is one of the best-known stories in Ceylon.I enjoyed it not so much for the story but for the vision of how it one was In Sri Lanka.
Jul 25, 2011 Ryan rated it it was ok
Shelves: colonial, fiction
Successfully depicts the hardscrabble existence of rural poor amidst the oppressive atmosphere of the ever invasive wilderness that eventually reclaims everything.
Oct 28, 2007 Mary rated it it was amazing
This book is hard to pin down. It's full of anxieties about colonialism paired with haunting visions of the Sri Lankan jungle. I loved reading it. Go Leonard.
Apr 10, 2008 Beth rated it it was amazing
Brilliant weaving of "Western" and "Eastern" narrative styles. Leonard Woolf deserves to be brought out from the shadow of Virginia.
M.k. Yost
Jul 25, 2013 M.k. Yost rated it liked it
Shelves: modernism
A fascinating piece of Modernist/British Colonial literature, but the language can become a bit turgid at times.
Shavindi Ediriarachchi
The rural air of Sri Lankan Villagers in the remote of Beddegama.
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Leonard Sidney Woolf was a noted British political theorist, author, publisher (The Hogarth Press), and civil servant, but perhaps best-known as husband to author Virginia Woolf.
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