Jun 26, 09
Recommended to Wayne by:
Kipling's own excellent short stories
as an awful contrast to real myths
Read in June, 2009, read count: once, barely!!
Anyone who addresses his stepdaughter as 'O my Best Beloved' just has to be putting it on!!!Or has a slight touch of the "Lolitas"!!
And the same goes for these very cutsie "myths" which are pretty trite when set against real myths where ancient peoples tried to explain the wonders and mysteries and significant phenomena of their worlds.These ancient stories have lasted because they were worth retelling.They were never published but handed on and polished over centuries.
Kipling's have NOT and it is painfully obvious.
His very ugly illustrations do little to enhance any attempt at charm.
I can fully understand the nostalgia of those introduced to these tales when young.The first exposure to these explanatory types of myth would be hugely impressive. But let me tell you:"Youse were robbed!!"
It has been done before by the Genuine Article. Being Australian I have read and heard told many of the Aboriginal myths about the native animals,plants,landscape, moon and stars of this Island Continent.These myths are on a philosophical, mystical, religious level.
Kipling's are garbage by comparison.
Myths are serious business.They can be tough,tragic,witty and wise...Shakespearean, perhaps. In Kipling's hands he practically disrespects and trivialises the genre, with his condescension and infantile language "errors".
Is this really surprising from someone who was part of the British Raj?
LATER: Ghandi's followers one day complained that the previous day he had preached the exact opposite to what he had just told them today!!Nonplussed, Ghandi replied that he had a perfect right to reconsider and to change his mind!!!
after venting my spleen above, I climbed into bed and finished "Just So Stories' with the last three tales...and began to reconsider!!!
The illustration to "The Cat That Walked by Himself" is superb.
The best I can say about the others is alot indeed: they are NOT sentimental which in my books is far,far worse than "ugly"!!!
But, they are still ugly. 'Cept the cat one.
So: Well Done, Kippers!!!
Did you like my "cept"?
A cutsie language disease I got from Kippers.
His memorable ones were 'citing (read "exciting) and 'satiable curtiosity - ( a lisp followed up by a deliberate mispronunciation there!); and 'Scuse me (both from The Elephant's Child").
Verbosity such as "a man of infinite-resource-and sagacity" was probably NOT so verbose in Kipper's day. But with the present decline of language skills and the dumbing down of readers and their teachers, I wonder not which child, but which adult/parent reader could "splain to their Little Treasure, "sagacity".?
OK, we can tolerate these cutsie slips but again they may keep the adults happy _ every Children's Classic has a Happy Parent Reader leading the way - but what about the kids??? Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton never ever won a Children's Book Award. But Kippers won,in 1907, the NOBLE PRIZE FOR LIT for god's sake!!!!(Even Tolstoy missed out to some nonentity, which Kippers has in some areas become.)
I enjoyed these last two pseudo-myths or pourquoi tales of Kippers ie.The Cat and The Crab one. Then wondered if he was RETELLINGing some Indian myths!!! One critic thought he may have been influenced by the forms and patterns of traditional pourquoi stories (those that explain, whoops! 'splain, why something is the way it is, a kind of parody of the Lamarckian theory of heredity, which even Darwin indulged in.) And/or the Jakata Buddhist Tales where Buddha undergoes rebirths as animals and learns wisdom. Highly probable. Perhaps. But then I wonder just HOW interested Ole Kippers was in the Indian culture that surrounded him. His Irish-boy hero Kim is more Indian than the Indians(they couldn't even do that properly! Kim after all supports the Raj - some Indian!!!); and another one, Gunga Din IS Indian true-blue but just aspires to be a little British.(Oh, dear!) We had to wait until someone like Ruth Prawer Jhabvala came along. She defied George Moore's spot-on contemporaneous criticism of Kipling: "Mr.Kipling has seen much more than he has felt", with her novels, like "The Householder."
But I'm sure Kipling was an original and so persisted in this virtue, so no retelling for him. But this is only a "thought". On the whole he tells a good myth, its just too cutesy for me. I prefer the retelling of the Australian Aboriginal Myths by Dick Roughsey the Aboriginal
illustrator and Percy Trezise who has a special affection for the aborigines of Cape York Peninsula and is an anthropologist, conservationist, historian, World War II fighter pilot, explorer, writer and artist.Have yet to discover if Goodreads has heard of these children's storytellers!!!(I have just checked and YES!!!Well Done Goodreads.Put in 'Percy Trezise' and you'll get a list.My favourite-"The Quinkins".)
Henry James was only one of many contemporary writers who had high hopes of Kippers.James hoped for a new Balzac! But James finally recognised "how little of life he can make use of."
And his progress as James reluctantly finally stated "has come steadily from the less simple subject to the more simple."
His "Plain Tales from the Hills" still deliver a punch and are among the Great short stories. But they are remarkably detached and unfeeling.
One critic has stated that Kipling's rapturous reception onto the Literary Stage was because he allowed the British to feel good about feeling bad about feeling good about their 'doings' on the Great Sub-Continent.
I have two books of short stories waiting in the wings I am eager to devour...written by no less than Kippers himself.
One contains 13 tales from four of his many published volumes:"The Day's Work"(1889),"Life's Handicap"(1891),"Many Inventions"(1893) and "Traffics and Discoveries" (1904). I don't think there is one Raj story among them.
The other book of 14 stories are ALL set in the Raj and none from his first and famous volume "Plain Tales from the Hills".So this will be a treat.
On order, the 2000 biography of over four hundred pages by Harry Ricketts - "Rudyard Kipling, a Life".
I am a critic but I'm also a fan!!!