Great Books of the World – Part 29

“I am, by calling, a dealer in words; and words are,
of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”

Rudyard Kipling

Courtesy of JaguarJedi22:


“Teach us Delight in simple things,
And Mirth that has no bitter springs:
Forgiveness free of evil done,
And Love to all men ‘neath the sun.”

Rudyard Kipling, The Children’s Song

“Can You Feel The Love Tonight?”, performed by Hauser (courtesy of Classical Music):



The Jungle Book
Rudyard Kipling
30 December 1865  –  18 January 1936

Courtesy of Ultimate History:

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1865. He was named after Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire, a beauty spot his parents visited. While still a young boy, he and his sister Alice were sent back to be educated in England, first for an unhappy stay with a foster family in Southsea, and then for a more cheerful time at boarding school in Devon. In 1882, Kipling returned to India and began his career as a journalist, writing poems and short stories for The Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore. His reputation spread quickly in India, and several of his stories were published in booklet form.

He returned to England in 1889 and soon became part of London’s fashionable literary circle. By the age of thirty-two, he had written scores of popular stories, collected in various volumes, albeit his first few attempts in novel form were not great successes, but this all changed with a story for children, The Jungle Book, which was published in 1894, and which since then has become both a children’s and grown-ups’ very much loved classic. With his reputation firmly established as a writer and poet of rare ability, Kipling started the new century with further successes in the form of his novel Kim and the Just So Stories.

Heartfelt dedication in Kipling’s handwriting:

More books followed and in 1907, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature – the first English language writer to do so, “in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterise the creations of this world-famous author.” Despite modern views changing the perspective, I firmly believe that if we focus on the imaginative story and the wonderful adventures of all the animals, and leave the politics aside, the magic of the book will prevail.

Kipling continued to write poems and collections of short stories for the rest of his life, although his writing grew increasingly affected by the catastrophic events that occurred around him, the First World War in which he lost his only son on the first day of action, his body never being found, and the death of his daughter Josephine, aged 6, in the flu pandemic. He died in 1936.

Josephine, John and Elsie Kipling in childhood.

In recent years, Kipling has received acclaim from a new generation, who appreciate the diversity and imagination of his extraordinarily prolific output.

“Kipling Jungle Book Cycle: No. 10, The Only Son” by Percy Grainger, performed by Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble:


When Disney made the book into a movie, who didn’t dance with King Louie, Baloo, and Mowgli to this catchy song? (courtesy of kiaramarbalto2)


The Preface to The Jungle Book, where Kipling calls himself the Editor, is worth reading:

“The demands made by a work of this nature upon the generosity of specialists are very numerous, and the Editor would be wanting in all title to the generous treatment he has received were not willing to make the fullest acknowledgment of his indebtedness.

His thanks are due in the first place to the scholarly and accomplished Bahadur Shah, baggage elephant 174 on the Indian Register, who, with his amiable sister Pudmii, most courteously supplied the history of “Toomai of the Elephants“ and much of the information contained in “Her Majesty’s Servants.” The adventures of Mowgli were collected at various times and in various places from a multitude of informants, most of whom desire to preserve the strictest anonymity. Yet, at this distance, the Editor feels at liberty to thank a Hindu gentleman of the old rock, an esteemed resident of the upper slopes of Jakko, for his convincing if somewhat caustic estimate of the national characteristics of his caste – the Presbytes. Sahi, a savant of infinite research and industry, a member of the recently disbanded Seeonee Pack, and an artist well known at most of the local fairs of Southern India, where his muzzled dance with his master attracts the youth, beauty, and culture of many villages, have contributed most valuable data on people, manners, and customs. These have been freely drawn upon, in the stories of ‘Tiger! Tiger!’, ‘Kaa’s Hunting’, and ‘Mowgli’s Brothers.’

A happy accident of travel enabled the Editor, when a passenger on the Empress of India, be of some slight assistance to a fellow passenger. How richly his poor services were repaid, readers of ‘The White Seal’ may judge for themselves.”

                                                                                       Rudyard Kipling

An extract from The Jungle Book:

“It was seven o’clock of a very warm evening in the Seeonee hills when Father Wolf woke up from his day’s rest, scratched himself, yawned, and spread out his paws one after the other to get rid of the feeling in their tips. Mother Wolf lay with her big grey nose dropped across her four tumbling, squealing cubs, and the moon shone into the mouth of the cave where they all lived. “Augrh! Said Father Wolf, ‘It is time to hunt again”, and he was going to spring downhill when a little shadow with a bushy tail crossed the threshold and  whined: “Good luck go with you, O Chief of the Wolves; and good luck and strong white teeth go with the noble children, that they may ever forget the hungry in this world.”

It was the jackal – Tabaqui, the Dish-licker – and the wolves of India despise Tabaqui because he runs about making mischief, and telling tales, and eating rags and pieces of leather from the village rubbish heaps. But they are afraid of him too because Tabaqui, more than anyone else in the jungle is apt to go mad, and then he forgets that he was ever afraid of anyone, and runs through forest biting everyone in his way. Even the tiger runs and hides when little Tabaqui goes mad, for madness is the most disgraceful  thing that can overtake a wild creature. We call it hydrophobia, but they call it the devanee – madness – and run.

“Enter, then and look’ said Father Wolf stiffly, ‘but there is no food here.’

‘For a wolf, no’, said Tabaqui, ‘but for so mean a person as myself a dry bone is a good feast. Who are we, the Gidur-log (the Jackal-People), to pick up and choose?’ He scuttled to the back of the cave, where he found the bone of a buck with some meat on it, and sat cracking the end merrily.

‘All thanks for this good meal’, he said, licking his lips. ‘How beautiful are the noble children! How large are their eyes! And so young too! Indeed, indeed, I might have remembered that the children of Kings are men from the beginning.’

Now, Tabaqui knew as well as anyone else that there is  nothing so unlucky as to compliment children to their faces, and it pleased him to see Mother and Father Wolf look uncomfortable.

Tabaqui sat still rejoicing in the mischief that he had made, then said spitefully: ‘Shere Khan, the Big One, has shifted his hunting-grounds. He will hunt among these hills for the next moon, so he told me.’

Shere Khan was the tiger who lived near the Waingunga River, twenty miles away.

‘He has no right! ‘ said Father Wolf angrily – ‘By the Law of the Jungle he has no right to change his quarters without due warning. He will frighten every head of game within ten miles, and I – I have to kill for two, these days.’

‘His mother did not call him Lungri (the Lame one) for nothing,’ said Mother Wolf quietly.

‘He has been lame in one foot from his birth. That is why he has only killed cattle. Now the villages of the Waingunga are angry with him, and he has come here to make our villages angry. They will scour the Jungle for him when he is far away, and we and our children must run when the grass is set alight. Indeed, we are very grateful to Shere Khan!’

‘Shall I tell him of your gratitude?’ said Tabaqui.

‘Out!’ snapped Father Wolf. ‘Out and hunt with thy master. You have done harm enough for one night.’

‘I go‘, said Tabaqui quietly. ‘You can hear Shere Khan below in the thickets. I might have saved myself the message.’

Father Wolf listened, and below in the valley that ran down a little river, he heard the dry, angry, snarly, sing-song whine of a tiger who has caught nothing and does not care if all the Jungle knows it.

‘The fool! Said Father Wolf. ‘To begin a night’s work with that noise! Does he think that our buck are like his fat Waingunga bullocks?’

‘H’sh’! It is neither bullock nor buck he hunts tonight,’ said Mother Wolf. ‘It is Man.’ The whine  has changed to a sort of humming purr that seemed to come from every quarter of the compass. It was the noise that bewilders woodcutters and gypsies sleeping in the open, and makes them run into the very mouth of the tiger.

‘Man! Said Father Wolf, showing all his white teeth. ‘Faugh! Are there not enough beetles and frogs in the tanks that he must eat Man, and on our ground too?’

The Law of the Jungle, which never orders anything without a reason, forbids every beast to eat Man except when killing to show his children how to kill, and then he must hunt outside the hunting grounds of his pack or tribe. The real reason for this is that man-killing means, sooner or later, arrival of white men on elephants, with guns, and hundreds of brown men with gongs and rockets and torches. Then everybody in the Jungle suffers. The reason the beasts give themselves is that Man is the weakest and most defenceless of all living things, and it is unsportsmanlike to touch him. They say too – and that is true – that man-eaters become mangy, and lose their teeth.

 The purr grew louder, and ended in in the full -throated, ‘Aaarh!’ of the tiger’s charge.

Then there was a howl – an untigerish howl – from Shere Khan. ‘He has missed,’ said Mother Wolf. ‘What is it?’

Father Wolf ran out a few paces and heard Shere Khan muttering and mumbling savagely as he tumbled about in the scrub.

‘The fool has had no more sense than to jump at a woodcutter’s camp-fire, and has burned his feet,’ said Father Wolf, with a grunt. ‘Tabaqui is with him.’

‘Something is coming uphill,’ said Mother Wolf,  twitching one ear. ‘Get ready.’

The bushes rustled a little in the thicket, and Father Wolf dropped his haunches under him, ready for the leap. Then, if you had been watching, you would have seen the most wonderful thing in the world – the wolf checked in mid-spring. He made his bound before he saw what it was he was jumping at, and then tried to stop himself. The result was that he shot up straight into the air for four or five feet, landing almost where he left the ground.

‘Man!’ he snapped. ‘A man’s cub. Look!’

Directly in front of him, holding on by a low branch, stood a naked brown baby who could just walk – as soft and as dimpled a little atom as ever came to a wolf’s cave at night. He looked up into Father Wolf’s face, and laughed.

‘Is that a man’s cub?’ said Mother Wolf. ‘I have never seen one. Bring it here.’ 

A wolf accustomed to moving his own cubs can, if necessary, mouth an egg without breaking it, and though Father Wolf’s jaws closed right on the child’s back not a tooth even scratched the skin, as he laid it down among the cubs.

‘How little! How naked, and –  how bold!’ said Mother Wolf softly. The baby was pushing his way between the cubs to get close to warm hide. ‘Ahai! He is taking his meal with others And so this is a man’s cub. Now, was there ever a wolf that could boast of a man’s cub among her children?’ 

‘I have heard now and again of such a thing, but never in our Pack or in my time, said Father Wolf.’ ‘He is altogether without hair, and I could kill him with a touch of my foot. But see, he looks up and is not afraid.’

 The moonlight was blocked out of the mouth of the cave, for Shere Khan’s great square head and shoulders were thrust into the entrance. Tabaqui, behind him, was squeaking, ‘My lord, my lord, it went in here!’

‘Shere does us great honour,’ said Father Wolf, but his eyes were very angry. ‘What does Shere Khan need?’

‘My quarry. A man’s cub went this way’, said Shere Khan. ‘His parents have run off. Give it to me.’

Shere Khan had jumped at a woodcutter’s camp-fire, as Father Wolf had said, and was furious from the pain of his burned feet. But Father Wolf knew that the mouth of the cave was too narrow for a tiger to come in by. Even where he was, Shere Khan’s shoulders and forepaws were cramped for want of room, as a man’s would be if he tried to fight in a barrel.

‘The Wolves are a free people,’ said Father Wolf. ‘They take orders from the Head of the Pack, and not from any striped cattle-killer. The man’s cub is ours – to kill if we choose.’

‘Ye choose and ye do not choose! What talk is this of choosing? By the bull that killed, am I to stand nosing into your dog’s den for my fair dues? It is I, Shere Khan, who speaks!’

The tiger’s roar filled the cave with thunder. Mother Wolf shook herself clear of the cubs and sprang forward, her eyes, like two green moons in the darkness, facing the blazing eyes of Shere Khan.”

No matter what some political views are, Kipling keeps his readers’ affection with poems like “If..” and the unforgettable adventure story “The Man Who Would Be King”, adapted into a famous film, the marvellous novel of India and espionage, Kim, and a host of other works. This is in no small part because it is impossible to read a page of Kipling without being startled by a phrase or sentence that is animated with the spring of speech rhythms but underpinned with a unique confidence and poetic poise. The dynamism of his verbal gift is palpable, and the force of his ingenuity containing sound, sense, and narrative invention combine to paint pictures of a sensually rich world that resembles the real one but is really a conjuring act, in a delightful way.

In his posthumously published autobiography, “Something of Myself” (1937), Kipling said that in writing the poem “If”, he was inspired by the character of Leander Starr Jameson, leader of the failed Jameson Raid against the South African Republic to overthrow the Boer government of Paul Kruger.

Courtesy of RedFrost Motivation:


“If -“

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!


There is no better place to meet Kipling and his gifts than in his “Just So Stories”, written for, and no doubt, first told to his young daughter Josephine, also known as Best Beloved, who died of pneumonia aged 6 in 1899.

“Serenade in E minor for String Orchestra”, Op. 20 – 2. Larghetto by Edward Elgar, performed by Pinchas Zukerman and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra:


The twelve tales provide wildly satisfying answers to often posed by curious children questions: how the camel got his hump? How the alphabet was made, or how the elephant got his trunk.  Each tale is addressed to the narrator’s “Best Beloved” with whom any listening child will certainly identify.

The spinning of the tales is so entwined in Kipling’s prose that any parent reading the “Just So Stories” aloud is transformed into a master storyteller, and every “Best Beloved” will be happy to listen again and again. Which is an unmissable thing as it leads to a life of love of reading and the wonder of language in all its richness and complexity.

All the original illustrations in The Just-So Stories were drawn by Kipling himself. Here are two extracts from the “Just So Stories”.

“The Cat That Walked By Himself”

“Hear and attend and listen; for this befell and behappened and became and was, O, my Best Beloved, when the Tame animals were wild, and the Horse was wild, and the Cow was wild, and the Sheep was wild, and the Pig was wild – as wild as wild could be – and they walked in the Wet Wild Woods by their wild ones. But the wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him.

Of course, the Man was wild too. He was dreadfully wild. He didn’t even begin to be tame till he met the Woman, and she told him that she did not like living in his wild ways. She picked out a nice dry Cave, instead of a heap of wet leaves, to lie down in; and she strewed clean sand on the floor; and she lit a nice fire of wood at the back of the Cave; and she hung a dried wild-horse skin, tail-down, across the opening of the Cave; and she said, “Wipe your feet, dear, when you coming, and now we’ll keep house.”

That night, Best Beloved, they ate wild sheep roasted on the hot stones, flavoured with wild garlic and wild pepper, and wild duck stuffed with wild rice and wild fenugreek and wild coriander; and marrow-bones of wild oxen; and wild cherries, and wild granadillas. Then the Man went to sleep in front of the fire ever so happy; but the Woman sat up, combing her hair.

She took the bone of the shoulder of mutton – the big fat blade-bone – and she looked at the wonderful marks on it, and she threw more wood on the fire, and she made a Magic. She made the First Singing Magic in the world.

… Wild Dog lifted up his wild nose and smelled the smell of roast mutton, and said, ‘I will go up and see and look, and say; for I think it is good. Cat, come with me.’

“Nenni!’ said the Cat. ‘I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me. I will not come.’

‘Then we can never be friends again,’ said Wild Dog, and he trotted off to the Cave.”

“Sonata in G Minor” K30 “The Cat’s Fugue” by Domenico Scarlatti, performed by Racha Arodaky:


“The Elephant’s Child”

“In the High and Far-Off Times the Elephant, O Best Beloved, had no trunk. He had only a blackish, bulgy nose, as big as a boot, that he could wriggle about from side to side; but he couldn’t pick up things with it.  But there was one Elephant – a new Elephant – an Elephant’s Child who was full of ‘satiable curiosity, and that means he asked ever so many questions. As he lived in Africa, and he filled all Africa with his ‘satiable’ curiosities.

… Then the Elephant’s Child grew all breathless, and panted, and kneeled down on the bank and said, ‘You are the very person I have been looking for all these long days. Will you please tell me what you have for dinner?’

‘Come hither, Little One’, said the Crocodile, ‘and I will whisper.’

Then the Elephant’s Child put his head down close to the Crocodile’s musky, tusky mouth, and the Crocodile caught him by his little nose, which up to that very week, day, hour, and minute, had been no bigger than a boot, though much more useful.

‘I think, said the Crocodile – and he said it between his teeth, like this – ‘I think to-day I will begin with Elephant’s Child!’

 … Then the Elephant’s Child sat back on his little haunches, and pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and his nose began to stretch. And the Crocodile floundered into the water, making it all creamy with great sweeps of his tail, and he pulled, and pulled, and pulled.

 … I got a new one from the Crocodile on the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River,’ said the Elephant’s Child.  ‘I asked him what he had for dinner, and he gave me this to keep!’”

“The Elephant” from “The Carnival of The Animals” by Camille Saint Saëns, performed by Zoltán Bíró (courtesy of nagylaj):


“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!”

Rudyard Kipling, The Ballad of East and West

79 thoughts on “Great Books of the World – Part 29

  1. Why?! Any suggestions?


    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s to do with an airfield. If you want to turn into a detective for a while I can tell you that it has quite a history, particularly during WWII and the controversial bit concerns a black Labrador Retriever, but the contoversy doesn’t stop there.


  3. Thank you, Malc! This sounds very interesting, especially narrated by you, the greatest history teacher that I know. Talking of retrievers, just saw two in action in Turkey. Wonderful creatures, the best friends we humans can have!



  4. Ah! Thank you my lovely. I hope it doesn’t disappoint, and as you quite rightly say, a dog is more often than not a human being’s best friend. When we lost our pet collie, Rosie, I’m not ashamed to say that I cried bucket loads of tears.


  5. Thank you, Malc, I understand as I rescued an Alsation, and when he died, it broke my heart. But my best friend was a hedgehog, and that type of relationship happens once in a lifetime, if one is lucky.

    I cried every day for a very long time after he died, and managed to save his life once by mouth to mouth resuscitation.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a beautiful rich story of Kipling’s life and writing so rich and a staple at our home. I had no idea Jungle Book was written so long ago! As always thanks for bringing life to the page and nuances I would have never had known without you sharing your love and gifts. I was so struck by his joy in India and his life in the UK. 5 star Joanna … take a bow 👏⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


  7. I can now see why you like Rudyard Kipling’s stories. Our affiliation with amimals is difficult to describe isn’t it Joanna? Enjoy the rest of your evening 🙂


  8. Thank you, Cindy, for your wonderful comments! You know how to lift my spirits!

    Your kindness is overwhelming, and greatly appreciated!

    Joanna xxx


  9. The time and work you invest in these incredible posts is greatly appreciated, Joanna. What a wonderful compilation about Kipling all seamlessly strung together. I remember The Jungle Book, but I didn’t realize it was written so long ago. It was part of my children’s lives too. Thank you once again for entertaining and educating us.


  10. Thank you, Lauren, for your wonderful comments! Having such a lovely readers as I have all the work is insignificant! I have to stress that having writers as talented as Kipling to write about makes my work a pleasure. I greatly appreciate your words, Lauren!


    Liked by 1 person

  11. That was breath taking Joanna. As much as it is him, i will not pause at how great he was of how he wrote and how he was and how he one amongst the wildest, but it is also you who could stretch it and melt it to a point where one does not know if we are reading Joanna more or the Joseph Kipling.

    Reading it in my hot room felt like fresh air passed through windows in these minutes. So many things I learnt about him. And most of all his gift of charm.

    It made me as sad as it must have made you, to know his none of his babies could live to tell tales of his father.

    Thank you Joanna.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you, Narayan, for your wonderful comments. Although, I had to leave aside Kipling’s political views, and in the full knowledge that it was India that influenced his most successful and immortal works, it also made me wonder if he would be awarded the Nobel Prize if he was living and writing in England.

    I explained in my reply to comments made by Malc and Kaushal, what happened to his only son who was killed on the first day of the war, his body never found. And the reason for this happening. In his naivety Kipling who did not know what the trenches in the First World War were like, pulled a few strings for John to be accepted despite that he was already exempt from the service being very short-sighted. This decision burdened him to the rest of his life, also, the death of his young daughter at

    6 years of age from the pandemic.

    This year’s Bafta awards were dominated by the film “All Quiet On The West Front “with the powerful message – the war, any war, is not an adventure but death.

    Thank you, Narayan, again for your uplifting words, all greatly appreciated.



  13. Thank you Joanna for sharing such a comprehensive and informative post about Rudyard Kipling. It’s interesting to learn about his upbringing in India and education in England, as well as his career as a journalist and successful author of poems and short stories. No surprise that “The Jungle Book” and “Kim” are still beloved classics today. It’s also sobering to hear about the tragic losses Kipling experienced, including his son in World War I and his daughter to illness.

    Kipling’s works continue to inspire new generations of readers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights about Kipling’s legacy.


  14. Thank you, Ritish so much for your generous comments! I was very glad that it was India that gave Kipling the inspiration to write his masterpieces. I would love to see another writer, Indian like Tagore, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature! That would be something to write about!

    Thank you, Ritish, again for speedy comments, greatly appreciated!

    If time allows, please look up my reply to today’s comment by Narayan as I told him what has happen to Kipling’s only son, John, and why.



  15. Thanks for sharing this idea. Thanks Anita


  16. Thank you, Anita, for your eloquent comment. Greatly appreciated.



  17. Thank you for sharing Joanne. Kipling was amazingly talented and left us with great treasures.


  18. Thank you, Henrietta, for your kind comment. Greatly appreciated.


    Liked by 1 person

  19. Wow! Words we should never forget! 🙂 🐇


  20. Thank you for your kind comment! Greatly appreciated1


    Liked by 1 person

  21. Great post, Joanna. I love read your post


  22. Thank you, Gederedita, for your kind comment! Greatly appreciated!



  23. Your post are so unique, always all in one, Joanna.


  24. Commencing from Mulk Raj Anand, R. K. Narayan, Anita Desai, Sarojini Naidu, Toru Dutt to Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Allan Sealy, Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Banerjee, Arundhati Roy, Vikram Chandra – the panache of fine Indian writers is long and much augmented.


  25. Thank you, but I thought this is space for thee comment on my post, not for you to write about your knowledge on Indian literature, however impressive it may be.



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