Review of The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

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The Jungle BookWhile reading the story of Mowgli the man cub and his adventures, I must confess that the movie and the music kept intruding which was like a sound track in my head.
I was astonished at Kipling’s gift in providing both children and adults with such vivid animal characters who had strong personalities that remain almost as friends that we will not forget. His ability and imagination created these lively stories filled with movement and colour from dancing elephants, a mischievous mongoose and chattering monkeys. Each had there own language and set of rules. The emphasis of following the rules of the jungle and knowing how to behave accordingly gave me the feeling of Kipling trying to bring order into complex lives and survival in the animal world. The relationship between man and nature left a lot to be desired. When driven by cruelty and greed the worst side of humans prevail. We have so many Rhino’s slaughtered for their horns in South Africa, it is simply soul destroying.
This was strikingly illustrated in the story of “The White Seal”. The description of the seals being clubbed to death and how the white seal is determined to find an island where Man had never been so that he could provide a place for him and his family to live in peace and harmony with nature. His long arduous journeys were always filled with this ideal that finally is realized.

For me reading Kipling as an adult having read some of his work as a child left me with a sense of wonderment. At the level of a child only the characters remain. As an Adult so many questions fill my head.
Kipling was patriotic and spent many years writing about the Empire and the British wars. I feel totally ill-equipped to even try and comment on the social and political value of his work.
Perhaps the reasons why he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907 says it all “For his power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration”.
I give the book an 8 and my favourite character was the mongoose.

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Hilary Aber lives in South Africa and sends her reviews to the books each month, except once a year when she comes to the Club.

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