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The Jungle Books (Signet Classics)by Rudyard Kipling
"What Mr. Kipling has done for us is to make us really know and feel that the larger part of our mental composition is of the same substance as that of our cousins the animals, with a certain superstructure of reasoning faculty which has enabled us to become their masters. Mr. Kipling, indeed, has expounded relationships in the psychology of the animal world as far-reaching as those which Darwin discovered in its morphology." Anonymous, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
Synopses & Reviews
The Jungle Books can be regarded as classic stories told by an adult to children. But they also constitute a complex literary work of art in which the whole of Kipling's philosophy of life is expressed in miniature. They are best known for the 'Mowgli' stories; the tale of a baby abandoned and brought up by wolves, educated in the ways and secrets of the jungle by Kaa the python, Baloo the bear, and Bagheera the black panther. The stories, a mixture of fantasy, myth, and magic, are underpinned by Kipling's abiding preoccupation with the theme of self-discovery, and the nature of the 'Law'.
Rudyard Kipling had never visited the jungles of Central India, yet his descriptions have a breathtaking imaginative power; and in Mowgli, the boy who grows up among wolves, he created one of the most popular and enduring of modern literary myths. Mowgli's companions and enemies include such unforgettable creatures as Shere Khan the tiger and Bagheera the black panther; from the moment "a little naked cub" wanders into the lair of Father Wolf and Mother Wolf to the moment when the "Master of the Jungle" returns to his own people, Mowgli's adventures comprise a rich and complex fable of human life. Along with these stories are other animal tales, ranging from the simple heroism of "Rikki-tikki-tavi" to the macabre comedy of "The Undertakers." Addressed equally to the imagination and understanding of children and adults, these tales are among the finest work of a master storyteller.
Mowgli, lost in the deep jungle as a child, is adopted into a family of wolves. Hunted by Shere Khan, the Bengal tiger, Mowgli is allowed to run with the wolf pack under the protection of Bagheera, the black panther, and Baloo, the brown bear who teaches wolf cubs the Laws of the Jungle. Through his many adventures, Mowgli evolves from a vengeful member of the pack to a just and compassionate human being who at last returns to join—perhaps to lead—his own kind.
Like Alice in Wonderland and Aesops Fables, The Jungle Books is a work capable of capturing our imagination at any age. W. Somerset Maugham calls Kipling our greatest short story writer,” and in The Jungle Books, he says, Kiplings great and varied gifts find their most brilliant expression.”
With a New Introduction by Alberto Manguel
and an Afterword by Alev Lytle Croutier
About the Author
Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay in 1865. During his time at the United Services College, he began to write poetry, privately publishing Schoolboy Lyrics in 1881. The following year he started work as a journalist in India, and while there produced a body of work, stories, sketches, and poems — including "Mandalay," "Gunga Din," and "Danny Deever" — which made him an instant literary celebrity when he returned to England in 1889. While living in Vermont with his wife, an American, Kipling wrote The Jungle Books, Just So Stories, and Kim — which became widely regarded as his greatest long work, putting him high among the chronicles of British expansion. Kipling returned to England in 1902, but he continued to travel widely and write, though he never enjoyed the literary esteem of his early years. In 1907, he became the first British writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize. He died in 1936.
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Note on the Text
The Jungle Book
The Second Jungle Book
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