The Jungle Books

By Rudyard Kipling
(Bantam Classics, Mass Market Paperback, 9780553211993, 384pp.)

Publication Date: December 1, 1985

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover, Paperback

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Description

First published in 1894 and 1895, The Jungle Books remain some of the most beloved tales of all time. Adored by readers of all ages, these classic stories in two volumes spin the unforgettable story of Mowgli—a boy raised by a pack of wolves—as he learns indelible lessons about the laws of the jungle as well as the needs of the heart. Through Mowgli’s journey, readers also meet the tiger Shere Khan, who stalks man and beast alike, the rock python Kaa, who dispenses wisdom, and the aging wolf Akela, who struggles as his leadership of the pack is challenged. Set in India, Kipling’s great masterpiece is an allegory for Britain’s imperialism, filled with high adventure and extraordinary characters. The mythic tale of a boy looking for where he truly belongs—either with the man-pack of the village or the wolf-pack of the wild—The Jungle Books touch both our intellect and our emotions, while Kipling’s dazzling storytelling makes them the timeless archetype for popular tales to come.




About the Author

Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, India to British parents on December 30, 1865. In 1871, Rudyard and his sister, Trix, aged three, were left to be cared for by a couple in Southsea, England. Five years passed before he saw his parents again. His sense of desertion and despair were later expressed in his story “Baa Baa, Black Sheep” (1888), in his novel The Light that failed (1890), and his autobiography, Something of Myself (1937). As late as 1935 Kipling still spoke bitterly of the “House of Desolation” at Southsea: “I should like to burn it down and plough the place with salt.”

At twelve he entered a minor public school, the United Services College at Westward Ho, North Devon. In Stalky and CO. (1899) the myopic Beetle is a self-caricature, and the days at Westward Ho are recalled with mixed feelings. At sixteen, eccentric and literary, Kipling sailed to India to become a journalist. His Indian experiences led to seven volumes of stories, including Soldiers Three (1888) and Wee Willie Winkie (1888).

At twenty-four he returned to England and quickly tuned into a literary celebrity. In London he became close friends with an American, (Charles) Wolcott Balestier, with whom he collaborated on what critics called a “dime store novel.” Wolcott died suddenly in 1891, and a few weeks later Kipling married Wolcott’s sister, Caroline. The newlyweds settled in Brattleboro, Vermont, where Kipling wrote The Jungle Book (1895), and most of Captains Courageous (1897). By this time Kipling’s popularity and financial success were enormous.

In 1899 the Kiplings settled in Sussex, England, where he wrote some of his best books: Kim (1901), Just So Stories (1902), and Puck of Pooks Hill (1906). In 1907 he received the Nobel Prize for literature. By the time he died, on January 18 1936, critical opinion was deeply divided about his writings, but his books continued to be read by thousands, and such unforgettable poems and stories as ”Gunga Din,” “If,” “The Man Who Would Be King,” and “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” have lived on in the consciousness of succeeding generations.

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