Matt Brant's Reviews > The Complete Stalky and Co.

The Complete Stalky and Co. by Rudyard Kipling
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Jul 30, 2008

Adults probably read this today because JK Rowling revived the school story with her Harry Potter books. Heaven knows, in our kinder gentler age, the punishment doled out to the bullies in The Moral Reformers will be seen as gratuitously cruel and violent. Still, Kipling gets his point across: the brutality of school life had its limits and was a necessary part of training for a career in Imperial Management, in which kid gloves would be laughably inappropriate. Kipling did not gloss over reporting that numbers of Old Boys of the school were indeed killed while serving. Nor does he have patience with jingos. A vulgarian, I liked these knock-about, well-written stories.
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) I am pleased to state that I tried to read the first Harry Potter and couldn't slog through it. I started reading Stalky and Co. many years ago because a) I love 19th century children's lit and b) it was referenced in one of the Edwardian classics. If you want a reasonably realistic Victorian boarding school story, there's Stalky or Angela Brazil (granted she was writing in the teens and twenties but the ethos is the same). And Tom Brown of course. Another reviewer states that Stalky has "lost its public." Not true; there are still readers out there who discover it in every generation. I wonder how long HP will actually last before sliding into oblivion? Not a century, I fancy.

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