Wayne's Reviews > Just So Stories

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
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M 50x66
's review
Jun 10, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: children-s-books
Recommended to Wayne by: Kipling's own excellent short stories
Recommended for: as an awful contrast to real myths
Read in June, 2009

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!!!
So...being nonplussed,
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!!!
Happy Kipling!!


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Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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message 1: by Al (new)

Al Bità Maybe this was a 'publisher's request' compilation? As you point out, Kipling was THE preeminent writer when the British Empire was at its height. Perhaps the publishers thought they might simply milk the author just a little bit more?

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

ok these aren't real matbe but there cute! and funny. and who cares what he calls anybody it's his choice he wrote the book how he wanted and most people like it.your out

message 3: by Wayne (last edited Apr 14, 2011 02:47PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Wayne Dear Madison,
You wrote "there cute".
Sorry!!: they're cute ie. they are cute.

...and again!! Your out.
That one is: you're out ie. you are out.
You also need lessons in punctuation and spelling.
And in how to do literary critiques.

In future, PLEASE inflict yourself on somebody who cares.You're OUT.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Wayne wrote: "Dear Madison,
You wrote "there cute".
Sorry!!: they're cute ie. they are cute.

...and again!! Your out.
That one is: you're out ie. you are out.
You also need lessons in punctuation and spe..."


i'm only 12 and not as good at typing as you may be...i can't really do litery critiques because i don't know what they even are. pleas lets not have this turn into an argument! :( sorry

Wayne Dear Madison,
No hard feelings.
Please smile!!!! .... :)
Literary critique just means analysing a piece of writing, saying why and how you think it succeeds or fails.As a whole piece of writing.Or certain pieces.
You might find a character doesn't work for you, might not feel realistic.But you can't just say it FEELS right or wrong, you have to justify it from what is written in the story.
Just because most people like something (and how do you know this???) doesn't make it right.One of your Great American writers Henry David Thoreau certainly did NOT believe that the majority wins meant they were right.So he spoke of "a majority of One".
Attacking people, calling them names or referring to their private life or their lack of table manners has nothing to do with their criticism of a book.You have to change their mind by arguing about the book not them.And if they still don't agree, perhaps it's because they don't want to admit their argument is lousy; or perhaps YOUR argument is lousy.
It is all very confusing but lots of fun and books and stories are wonderful things to discuss and argue about, especially when you get to know other people as well.
I apologise for criticising your spelling and punctuation.I always check mine because it can lead to misunderstandings and it makes it easier for your reader.
I think your typing is very good and I hope to hear from you again.
Cheers from Wayne.
And no more arguments...just discussions!! :)

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Wayne wrote: "Dear Madison,
No hard feelings.
Please smile!!!! .... :)
Literary critique just means analysing a piece of writing, saying why and how you think it succeeds or fails.As a whole ..."

ok well thanks wayne! i appreiciate you explaining it to me and i apoligize. Your a nice person! thank you

Wayne And SO are YOU!!!!

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Wayne wrote: "And SO are YOU!!!!

hehe yor welcome *blushes*

Wayne *Blushes* aside, what are you reading at the moment, Madison???
I am suppose to be reading "Huckleberry Finn" for my American Literature Course, but am continually distracted by something else that happens along.
I am hopeless.

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

oh haha i'm currently reading a Nancy Drew book! i like Nancy Drew! Do you like Nancy Drew? And then after that i have to read an Irish Novel...

Wayne I hope your Irish novel is not anything by James Joyce!! You would have as much trouble with JJ as I would have with Nancy !!!!
Actually, come to think of it, the only thing by JJ I could manage are his short stories!!!!!!!!
Good Luck!!And love to Nance!

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Wayne wrote: "I hope your Irish novel is not anything by James Joyce!! You would have as much trouble with JJ as I would have with Nancy !!!!
Actually, come to think of it, the only thing by JJ I could manage ..."

no here's the link to the book: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/92...

pretty good book so far!

Wayne This sounds like a pretty good read, Madison.
Will be interested to hear how you have found it.

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

ok hahahaha

message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

It was amazing Wayne thank you

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