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Jungle Jest by Talbot Mundy

Jungle Jest

by Talbot Mundy

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Mundy was a British writer, active in the early decades of the 20th century, most known for his adventure stories that take place in the far flung corners of the British Empire, especially India and nearby countries. Jungle Jest is comprised of three long stories, strongly interconnected, which I suspect were originally published separately in a literary/adventure periodical of some sort.

Published in 1932, these stories predict the end of the Raj, a development Mundy doesn't necessarily find a negative prospect. His attitude seems to be here that this will be a natural evolution that should be handled as peacefully as possible.

At any rate, these three stories all center around one Cotswald Omminy, a very resourceful fellow, indeed, who is employed by the British Forest Service and whose loyalties are in fact to the trees and animals within his jurisdiction much more to any nationalist or government entity, including his own. By making Omminy a forester rather than a soldier, Mundy cleverly provides his character a freedom of movement and allows him a purity of motive both endearing to the modern reader and useful to the storylines.

At heart, though, these are adventure stories, to be sure. The first two center around a Moslem uprising against British rule and the third around a factional power struggle within an Indian principality. And while each story is sown with a small number of noble figures, we are mostly treated to a series of devious, ruthless, calculating characters--Moslem, Hindu and British more or less equally. Of course, our dear Cotwald is the cleverest of the lot, by far, always sniffing out subterfuge and betrayal before it bears fruit and adept at using his adversaries greed and power-mongering against them. So we know ahead of time that he will prevail, but watching him do it is extremely entertaining.

The stories are lots of fun and very well written. I seem to have the only copy of this book on LT, and even within online Mundy bios this clearly an obscure volume, even within the context of Mundy bibliographies. ( )
1 vote rocketjk | Feb 1, 2012 |
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