A Treasure Rediscovered

Cleaning out my closet, I found an old paperback copy of The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling.

Once upon a time, I guess just about everybody read The Jungle Books. There was even a movie, starring Sabu. Mowgli‘s adventures in the Indian jungle, being raised by wolves and tutored by a bear, a panther, and a python, all told by a master storyteller–it just doesn’t get any better than that.

When I was a little boy, my Aunt Millie gave me for Christmas an illustrated edition of the first part of The Jungle Books (there are two parts). How I loved that book! It fell apart from overuse while I was still a child; but reading the stories now, over 50 years later, I can still see those illustrations as clearly as if they were on the page in front of me. The only difference is, I think I love the stories even better now.

(They’re getting under my skin, too. Last night I dreamed I was going to marry a black-and-white cat who talked and smoked cigarettes.)

If The Jungle Books are not fantasy fiction, very strictly speaking, they certainly share in the spirit of fantasy. Kipling creates something fantastic, something totally at odds with reality–a world of talking animals who have laws and customs–and by the greatness of his art, gets the reader to believe in it. And in visiting this unreal world of his, we wind up seeing the real world more clearly.

If you haven’t read these stories in a while, read them again. If you’ve never read them, and are going to read them for the first time… Well, I envy you!

5 comments on “A Treasure Rediscovered

  1. I think I read the Jungle Book, but don’t remember for sure. I read so many, many books when I was young, I simply don’t remember all of them now. This is a favorite of my husband, though. Maybe it is more of a “guy thing.” ha

  2. Oh Lee, to travel the jungles with Moglee(sp?) and meet all of his adopted community, yes THAT is pure art as only Kipling can execute.
    The stories, rather sagas ALL had an underlying message of ethic,morality, honor and courage..something very difficult to find in today’s literary morass. I delight in re-reading and sharing with my grandchildren his stories which ALL deliver a wholesome,entertaining adventure for them and I…and ALL of the story plot and dialog is carried out and presented artfully with the use of the F-word, or profanity of any level or degree for that fact..and the sexually suggestive covers and pictures are NON-Existent..I do believe that WE have forgotten or abandoned the communication techniques for impressing upon our youth in their formative years, the ethics,morals and standards of conduct expected of an honorable person…just as WE have now permitted the abandoning of the “Morally Straight ” qualification of The Scout Oath!
    How in the world can one consider a sexual deviant to be “Morally Straight”..but WE NOW DO!! Shame on U.S!

  3. I grew up watching the excellent cartoon version of Riki-Tiki-Tavi; I only just recently read it (and the rest of the first jungle book) and was surprised at how closely the cartoon followed the book. I also watched the Jungle Book movie but I wasn’t too impressed; the book is definitely better in this case 😀

    1. I never saw any of the cartoon versions. I saw the Sabu movie on TV as a kid, in black-and-white, and hardly remember anything at all about it.

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