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The Jungle Books (Signet Classics) by…

The Jungle Books (Signet Classics) (original 1894; edition 2005)

by Rudyard Kipling (Author), Alev Lytle Croutier (Afterword)

Series: Jungle Books (1-2)

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4,665471,844 (3.92)120
Presents the adventures of Mowgli, a boy reared by a pack of wolves and the wild animals of the jungle. Also includes other short stories set in India.
Title:The Jungle Books (Signet Classics)
Authors:Rudyard Kipling (Author)
Other authors:Alev Lytle Croutier (Afterword)
Info:Signet Classics (2005), Edition: Reissue, 368 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling (1894)

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» See also 120 mentions

English (41)  Swedish (3)  Danish (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (47)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
  hpryor | Aug 8, 2021 |
Kár, hogy először mindenféle mozgóképes feldolgozást láttam, s csak utána olvastam el az eredetit.. Nem tudtam kivenni magam a láttottak hatása alól. Emellett tetszett ez a történet is. Sokkal emberibb volt, néha részletesebb, fájdalmasabb, kevésbé mesés... ( )
  gjudit8 | Aug 3, 2020 |
This isn't the edition I read - that one had the Mowgli stories in one volume and the rest in another. Still I prefer Kipling's version to most of the adaptions that have been done over the years. There's nature in it's prime here. The characters are well developed and I loved the wolves. It's not perfect. It's a product of it's time and era in writing - I'm sure both Kipling and Lewis would look at all the "show don't tell" articles askance. ( )
  AshleighDJCutler | May 12, 2020 |
Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Books

Penguin Popular Classics, Paperback [1994].

12mo. viii+328 pp. Cover: detail from Victoria Falls of the Zambesi River by Thomas Baines (1820–1875).

The Jungle Book first published, 1894.
The Second Jungle Book first published, 1895.
Penguin Popular Classics, 1994.


Book I

Preface to Book I
Mowgli’s Brothers
Hunting-Song of the Seeonee Pack
Kaa’s Hunting
Road-Song of the Bandar-Log
Mowgli’s Song
The White Seal
Darzee’s Chant
Toomai of the Elephants
Shiv and the Grasshopper
Servants of the Queen
Parade-Song of the Camp-Animals

Book II

How Fear Came
The Law of the Jungle
The Miracle of Purun Bhagat
A Song of Kabir
Letting in the Jungle
Mowgli’s Song Against People
The Undertakers
A Ripple Song
The King’s Ankus
The Song of the Little Hunter
Angutivun Taina
Red Dog
Chil’s Song
The Spring Running
The Outsong


One of the beauties of Jungle Law is that punishment settles all scores. There is no nagging afterward.

I have tried to apply the Jungle Law to the writings of Rudyard Kipling. I was rather disappointed with a selection of his short stories and with his “masterpiece”. But I punished him in my reviews and that was it. No hard feelings. More than that, I have decided to give him another chance by reading this curious collection of fifteen stories and fifteen songs. I am glad I did. The songs are tedious, merely repeating in graceless verse what has just been said in indifferent prose. But the stories, despite Kipling’s clumsy and verbose style, have a great deal of charm.

Much the most famous characters Kipling ever created, indelible parts of the popular consciousness, come from this work. They are, of course, Mowgli, the boy raised by a pack of wolves, his wise mentors, Baloo the brown bear and Bagheera the black panther, and his nemesis, the lame and vicious tiger Shere Khan. I was not a little surprised, and somewhat disappointed, that they appear only in the first three stories from the first book. But they are more prominent in the second: five out of eight. They are joined by other memorable creatures such as Kaa the Rock Python, who breaks walls with his head, Akela, the grizzled leader of the pack, and Hathi the Wild Elephant, the Master of the Jungle who “never does anything till the time comes, and that is one of the reasons why he lives so long.”

The Mowgli stories are quite a mixed bag, but none is without interest. They are much more loosely connected and a good deal darker than the Disney versions (1967, 1994, 2016). These last may be children tales, but Kipling’s originals are certainly not. Kids can enjoy them only in that crowning perversion of our civilisation, the “adapted classic” (which is, of course, no longer a classic at all). To the adult and more experienced mind, there are plenty of disturbing overtones in these stories. Mowgli himself is an ambiguous creature, a controversial mixture of human and animal traits, a rather capricious boy way too proud of his “master of jungle” title and often on the verge of misusing his power.

“Mowgli’s Brothers” is the first and perhaps the best of the stories. It contains Mowgli’s jungle upbringing in a nutshell, including his saving the old Akela and his incurring the hatred of Shere Khan. Maugham was right to choose this story for his selection. This is Kipling at his best as both storyteller and character draughtsman. As a general rule, the more time he spends with the same characters later, the more he dilutes them – and the less substantial his plots become. One exception is “How Fear Came” which introduces Hathi and makes Shere Khan more sinister than ever before (or after). It also contains a long story within the story which is something very much like the jungle version of Genesis, an impressive flight of fancy rare, I think, in Kipling.

“Kaa’s Hunting” and “Red Dog” are straightforward adventure tales with plenty of blood and death. One has Mowgli kidnapped by the monkeys and the subject of a massive rescue operation, the other recounts the epic fight between the wolf pack and the invading dhoes (Asian wild dogs). “Tiger-Tiger!” is the showdown with Shere Khan which proves to be almost as disappointing as the battle between Achilles and Hector in that children classic by Homer (whatever its name was). Being a man after all, Mowgli defeats his nemesis with cunning and treachery. Much the more important part of this story is Mowgli’s rejection of human society after he is nearly stoned by angry villagers. This theme is continued in the grim and relentless “Letting in the Jungle”, perhaps the story which shows Mowgli at his most savage. It is concluded in a rather sentimental and inconsistent way in the last story, “The Spring Running”.

The most prominent character in these stories is not Mowgli, nor even Baloo or Bagheera, but the Jungle Law (mind the capitals). I suspect this is Kipling’s recipe for ideal society, perhaps even his utopian dream about the apex of the human version. He seems obsessed with it. He certainly raves about it: “The Law of the Jungle – which is by far the oldest law in the world – has arranged for almost every kind of accident that may befall the Jungle People, till now its code is as perfect as time and custom can make it.” The general rule is to have “life-and-death fun”, kill whatever you can before you get killed, but only for food. There are many other rules as well. Humans are not to be killed because it is unsportsmanlike to kill such a weak and defenceless creature. During drought, a Water Truce obtains, which is to say no killing at the drinking places.

Kill and let live is the Jungle Law in a nutshell. In other words, no killing for sport is allowed. This is human invention.

I also suspect that the Bandar-log (the Monkey People) is Kipling’s opinion of human beings in disguise. This may be putting thoughts in his head he never had, but it doesn’t sound entirely implausible. In the wise words of Baloo, and possibly Kipling himself, the Bandar-log are a sorry species indeed:

They have no Law. They are outcastes. They have no speech of their own, but use the stolen words which they overhear when they listen and peep and wait up above in the branches. Their way is not our way. They are without leaders. They have no remembrance. They boast and chatter and pretend that they are a great people about to do great affairs in the jungle, but the falling of a nut turns their minds to laughter, and all is forgotten. We of the jungle have no dealings with them.

There is no doubt in Mowgli’s mind, either. He considers humans and monkeys closely related and thinks much of neither: “Chatter – chatter! Talk, talk! Men are blood-brothers of the Bandar-log.” Our species generally cuts a poor figure in these stories, nowhere more so than in “The King’s Ankus”. This is a powerful depiction of human greed as Mowgli and Bagheera witness men killing each other for an elephant goad (ankus) heavily encrusted with gemstones. Mowgli cannot understand. What’s so precious about those stones? You can’t eat them, you can’t drink them, nor is the ankus any good as a weapon. Bagheera, raised among men, knows better. So does Mowgli in the end of this story, which shows him at his most compassionate. The contrast with “Letting in the Jungle” is telling.

In short, the Mowgli stories are worth reading and perhaps re-reading. The character of the “man-cub” might be worth delving deeper. The other stories are mostly lesser works, but there are some gems among them.

Unlike Jack London in his canine classics, Kipling makes no attempt to avoid anthropomorphising his animals. He shamelessly infuses his characters with all too human moods and foibles, memories and philosophies, passions and politics, rhetorical skill and storytelling ability. He is generally very successful. As Somerset Maugham has pointed out, talking animals are at least as old as Aesop, probably much older, and La Fontaine used them with charm and wit. But Kipling is perhaps most convincing that it’s really quite natural for animals to talk.

Sometimes, of course, he overdoes it. Maugham mentions the story “A Walking Delegate” in which horses indulge in political discussion. I haven’t read it, but I imagine it is deadly dull. The last story from the first book is a good example, too. “Servants of the Queen” are horses, mules, bullocks, camels and elephants (“Two Tails” in “camp-slang”) serving in the British Army, sharing their momentous experiences and pondering on the nature of fighting. It was a chore to finish. Less preachy but even more heavy-handed is “The Undertakers”, a failed attempt at dark comedy in which a crane, a jackal and a crocodile discuss human affairs.

From the non-Mowgli stories, by far the most famous, and incidentally the best, is “Rikki-tikki-tavi”, named after the bravest mongoose in fiction. Here, as in “Mowgli’s Brothers”, Kipling wrote a perfect story. The plot is complete and carefully crafted. Rikki-tikki is a genuine hero, and a charming fellow into the bargain. Less perfect but still interesting is “Toomai of the Elephants”. This somewhat long-winded but atmospheric and evocative tale has another boy as a protagonist, but, unlike Mowgli, he is not raised in the jungle and doesn’t talk with the animals. He does, however, witness a most unusual and rather spooky ritual deep in the forest. I had read “The Miracle of Purun Bhagat” before in Maugham’s selection, but I have read it again with pleasure in this book. It is a poignant story about an Indian saint who performs a miracle thanks to his communication with animals.

Two stories don’t belong to this book at all because they have nothing to do with the jungle. “Qiuquern” is set somewhere on the north shore of Baffin Island, just about as far from the jungle as you can get on this planet. It is a slight story slowly told with an overdose of local colour. Kipling might have been writing an article on Inuit lifestyle and superstitions. When he mentions dogs and sleds, he enters Jack London territory where he cannot compete. The story of Kotick, “The White Seal” who prefers peace to war and exploration to exploitation, takes place all over the Pacific but mostly in the Bering Sea. It is a fascinating tale of mighty allegorical significance, if you’re into that sort of thing. I am not.

On the whole, The Jungle Books proved to be an entertaining, occasionally even engrossing, read. Quite a surprise considering my previous collisions with the same author! Somerset Maugham, kindly quoted in Penguin’s biographical note, may well be right that here Kipling’s “great and varied gifts found their most brilliant expression”. In this case, it doesn’t make much sense to pick up another volume by the same author. But, who knows, when I see the elephants dancing, perhaps Kipling and I will meet again. ( )
  Waldstein | May 2, 2020 |
I have not read these before, although they were on my list for some erroneous reason. The Mowgli stories were captivating, but the ones which really surprised me were the ones about the seals and the Eskimos. I had no idea Kipling ever wrote stories about the far North. ( )
  LindaLeeJacobs | Feb 15, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (60 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kipling, Rudyardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cunliffe, MarcusAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dardel, Nils vonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Düzakin, AkinIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Detmold, EdwardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Detmold, MauriceIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drake, W. H.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gentleman, DavidIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hallqvist, Britt G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karlin, DanielEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kipling, J. LockwoodIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krohn, HelmiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Makman, LisaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nagai, KaoriIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nyquist, WalterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Now Rann, the Kite, brings home the night That Mang, the Bat, sets free--

The herds are shut in byre and hut, For loosed till dawn are we.

This is the hour of pride and power, Talon and tush and claw.

Oh,hear the call!--Good Hunting all That keep the Jungle Law!

-Night Song in the Jungle
First words
It was seven o' clock of a very warm evening in the Seeonee hills when Father Wolf woke up from his days rest, scratched himself, yawned, and spread out his paws one after the other to get rid of the sleepy feeling in their tips.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
"The Jungle Books" is the title usually used for the combined "The Jungle Book" & "The Second Jungle Book" or portions of both thereof.
This is a combination of The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book
Do not alias this book. Combine it.
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Presents the adventures of Mowgli, a boy reared by a pack of wolves and the wild animals of the jungle. Also includes other short stories set in India.

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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