Werner's Reviews > The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
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's review
Apr 06, 08

bookshelves: classics
Recommended for: Fans of stories about animals and/or jungle adventure
Read in January, 1962

Lost in the jungles of 19th-century India (the book was first published in 1894) as a toddler, little Mowgli is rescued from the vicious tiger Shere Khan by an adoptive family of wolves, who raise him as part of their pack. The author's various species of jungle animals exhibit many traits and behaviors characteristic of real ones (Kipling was born and raised in India, and his setting is depicted with a deftness born of first-hand observation); but he also endows them with a culture and languages, and a concept of Jungle Law, which allows him to use many of them as models of unspoiled "masculine" virtues, and to compare their world with civilized human society to the disadvantage of the latter. (His anthropomorphic treatment of animals, and his use of it for subtle social commentary, could be compared to Richard Adams' similar technique in Watership Down.)

Though the book was written for children and is traditionally marketed for them, I think modern children would be put off by the old-fashioned diction (Mowgli and the animals talk in a style which was actually archaic even in the 19th century), and probably wouldn't appreciate the setting and messages as much as an adult would. An adult who could accept the improbable premise on its own terms, though, could find much to enjoy here. (I recall that I enjoyed it as a child --but my reading tastes were somewhat precocious and atypical.)
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Steve (new)

Steve Oddly, or coincidentally, I had a student request this book in our library this afternoon -- I don't know for what particular purpose. (We have two copies, one in our regular literature collection, and one in the Juvenile room, which makes sense).

message 2: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte Liebel Thank you for helping me recall this story, Werner. I think The Jungle Book was on my father's bookshelves. But it is more than likely that I read it as a children's edition.


Werner You're welcome, Charlotte!

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