Monday, July 23, 2012
Thoughts: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
So, I dived into The Jungle Book with little or no expectations at all, and I was pleasantly surprised. As soon as I started reading about Mowgli and the wolves, I forgot about Rudyard Kipling and the literary baggage that he came with. It was just me, The Jungle Book, and the wonderful characters inside it.
Mowgli's stories were funny and kind of sad at the same time. His adventures with Baloo and Bagheera were hilarious, but there was always an undercurrent of something rotten beneath the surface. When Mowgli finally has to live in an actual, human village, we see the all-too human struggle to fit in, to belong somewhere. Mowgli didn't fit in with the wolves because he was too human, and he didn't fit in with humans because he was too much of a wolf. In the end, he ends up a nomad, stuck between the two worlds.
There were other stories too, like The White Seal (about an almost mythical white seal who leads other seals to safety), Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (about a mongoose who has to fight a cobra couple--I'm not kidding), and Toomai of the Elephants (about a boy who is allowed entrance into the elephants' ballroom).
I didn't like these stories as much as Mowgli's, but, through them, I saw how Rudyard Kipling loved and understood animals. I'm not saying that all his portrayals of animals were accurate, but you get the impression that he knows a thing or two about the heart of the jungle and how it beats.
This reading experience taught me that, sometimes, not knowing anything about a writer can help you enjoy his work more. I avoided reading anything by Rudyard Kipling for so long because of his beliefs that I almost missed out on something as amazing as The Jungle Book.