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The Village in the Jungle
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Group Reads Archive > The Village in the Jungle by Leonard Woolf (2013 Reading Challenge)

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Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
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The Village in the Jungle by Leonard Woolf The Village in the Jungle by Leonard Woolf

Susan | 774 comments Have just started this. Apparently Leonard Woolf worked for seven years in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) as a colonial officer. I like it so far.

message 3: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb Susan wrote: "Ceylon (Sri Lanka)"

My birthplace.

message 4: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val Nigeyb wrote: "Susan wrote: "Ceylon (Sri Lanka)"

My birthplace."

Was it at all recognisable?

I enjoyed this book. It shows life in a poor village, with the social structures, traditions and problems with a clear eye. It is an outsiders view, but still rings true. The descriptions of the place are not as full-blown as some books, but they are also clear. The story proceeds with a kind of doomed inevitability. (I hope that is not a spoiler.)
I didn't know Leonard Woolf was in Sri Lanka until after I had read the book, although I should have remembered that he was a colonial officer from reading about Virginia. Some of the difficulties of working as a colonial officer come out in the book. They are trying to dispense justice and the rule of law, but are responsible for too large an area to always do so fairly.

message 5: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb I haven't read this book, and left when I was two years old. That said, I have been back, about ten years ago, and travelled about the island. It's a lovely place. I'll read this book. Thanks Val.

Susan | 774 comments Doomed inevitability is not a spoiler, but I am now a bit worried! In all seriousness, the writing and the sense of place seems quite oppressive. You always think of people in rural isolated villages having a stress free, simple life, but judging by this they have all the debt problems and sense of fear of modern living.

message 7: by Val (last edited Aug 04, 2013 02:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val He does show the poverty, lack of education and unfair social structure as oppressive, but I think he was probably right and that it was based on observation of real life. Rural isolated village life is only stress free for those a few notches above subsistence levels.

Susan | 774 comments The grass is always greener... I think Woolf really captured the fear of living just in sight of real hunger.

message 9: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val Yes he did, and the constant fear of descending to it.

message 10: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments That proves the adage that it all depends on one's perspective.

message 11: by Janice (JG) (last edited Jul 23, 2013 09:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Janice (JG) Jac wrote: "I joined this group just because I saw this thread. I have Sri Lankan (Sinhalese) relatives in my family. This is a beloved book there. It has been made into a film in the Sinhalese language..."

I'm glad to hear this. One of the things I like about this book is the whole sense of myth that permeates it... shamans and tree demons and talking animals. I haven't finished the story, but I'm really enjoying Wolf's understated simplicity. I wasn't expecting something this good at all. I may have to look into more of Woolf's writing.

Janice (JG) I have finished this beautiful story, and I am so glad it was one of the books chosen for this challenge. Despite its tragedy and poverty, there is a profound revelation of the cyclical cause and effect of misery, and how all the products of fear -- greed, distrust, misunderstanding, anger, superstition, etc -- create animals out of humans. A lovely 'crazy' old man, a Buddhist monk, eventually wanders through the story with his begging bowl, explaining the source of misery and the source of joy, for any who may want to hear.

I can see why it is considered a favorite story of the Sinhalese.

message 13: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy | 38 comments I really enjoyed this book and the ending (I agree with the cyclical nature of the novel as already discussed). I haven't read any L.woolf or books from this area so this was a favourable first experience. thanks BYT for finding books for me that I probably wouldn't have stumbled across!

Livinginthecastle | 3 comments I had a bit of a break in the middle, but I'm glad I finished it, not a happy read though. It's a shame he didn't write more novels, from what I can find most of it is non-fiction.

message 15: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val Livinginthecastle wrote: "I had a bit of a break in the middle, but I'm glad I finished it, not a happy read though. It's a shame he didn't write more novels, from what I can find most of it is non-fiction."

I had only heard of his non-fiction before, but I really liked this. It is not a happy story, I agree.

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