Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Second Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling)

The Second Jungle Book
(Sequel to The Jungle Book)
Rudyard Kipling
Public Domain Books
Fiction, YA? Fantasy/General Fiction
**+ (Bad/Okay)

DESCRIPTION: After Mowgli defeated the tiger Shere-Khan and fled the cruel and superstitious Man-village, he thought he could return to his old life, as a child of the Seeonee wolf pack, hunt-brother of the panther Bagheera, and pupil of the bear Baloo. But the mark of Man is upon him, a poison in his blood, and even as he rises to Master of the Jungle, his birthright calls to him. Mowgli's further adventures are interspersed with tales of Jungle lore and other short stories.

REVIEW: To be honest, a good half a star was lost to the Public Domain version I found online; inexplicably, it cut out some of Kipling's work, most notably the songs and Jungle law, with unhelpful bracketed summaries of the prose I'd hoped to read left in their stead. Unfortunately, the other two stars were lost honestly. While lush with intricate descriptions and imaginative lore, the stories themselves drag and meander, mostly so Kipling could cram in yet more descriptions and lore. I also found Mowgli to be a clueless, selfish little twerp more often than not; why Bagheera, Kaa, and the rest put up with him for so long without gutting him, I cannot fathom. Once again, Kipling's works display a strange duality of nature, being both a literate love song for the wonders of the wilderness and a not-so-subtle praise of the English domination and destruction of said wilderness. In his time, perhaps, the two somehow melded into a unified vision, but from my 21st-century American standpoint I can't see how. In any event, this sequel hardly seems necessary.

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