The Jungle Books (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

The Jungle Books (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


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The Jungle Books, by Rudyard Kipling, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Action, adventure, and excitement spill from the pages of Rudyard Kipling’s best-loved collections of stories, The Jungle Books. Set in magical, mysterious India, these tales of people and animals living together--though not always harmoniously--in the world of nature have appealed equally to children and adults since their first appearance more than a century ago. Most focus on Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves. As Baloo the sleepy brown bear, Bagheera the cunning black panther, Kaa the python, and his other animal friends teach their beloved “man-cub” the ways of the jungle, Mowgli gains the strength and wisdom he needs for his frightful fight with Shere Khan, the tiger who robbed him of his human family. But there are also the tales of Rikki-tikki-tavi the mongoose and his “great war” against the vicious cobras Nag and Nagaina; of Toomai, who watches the elephants dance; and of Kotick the white seal, who swims in the Bering Sea. This edition includes both the original Jungle Book (1894) and The Second Jungle Book (1895), written in response to the original’s enormous success.

Lisa Makman is visiting Assistant Professor of English at the University of Michigan. Her teaching and research focus on Victorian culture and children’s and adolescent literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593081096
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 09/01/2004
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 24,541
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.08(d)

About the Author

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was one of the most popular writers in the United Kingdom in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His fiction works include The Jungle Book — a classic of children’s literature — and the rousing adventure novel Kim, as well as books of poems, short stories, and essays. In 1907, at the age of 42, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Read an Excerpt

From Lisa Makman’s Introduction to The Jungle Books

Like his contemporary, American animal fabulist Joel Chandler Harris, whose “Uncle Remus” stories were popular in England in the 1880s, Kipling told animal stories that diverged from the tradition of moral English and American animal tales. In The Jungle Books Kipling generates a new breed of animal tale, one that combines the didacticism of earlier English animal stories with a new vision of nature influenced in part by the popularization of Charles Darwin’s ideas following the appearance of the groundbreaking On the Origin of Species (1859). The wolves that populate the Mowgli stories are not the denizens of Grimm’s fairytales or Aesop’s fables—that is, expressions of human foibles. They are unabashedly lupine: more hungry hunters than crafty deceivers of girls in red capes. Their primary focus in life is food, and food for them means frequent hunting. The Mowgli stories chime with the refrain “good hunting”—the phrase with which animals who follow what Kipling calls “Jungle Law” hail their fellows. Most of the numerous “songs” in the books deal with hunting or with another sort of violence. The animals in The Jungle Books (and, in places, the humans) don’t only discuss hunting—they do it. They do so much of it that Henry James, a lone critical voice when the books first appeared, remarked in a letter to Edmund Gosse: “The violence of it all, the almost exclusive preoccupation with fighting and killing, is . . . singularly characteristic.”

Kipling’s wolves do, however, adhere to a strict code of ethical behavior, which Mowgli—and the hypothetical child reader—learn. The violence in the books is tempered by this code of Jungle Law. In fact, what is most striking about Kipling’s depiction of nature is that it is not a place of wild savagery but of sensible adherence to this law. For the Law of the Jungle is not simply a Darwinian “survival of the fittest,” but rather a complex set of precepts by which a society regulates its members. Kipling uses nature metaphors to describe the Law, suggesting that it simply grows in the jungle, like a plant: “As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back— / For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.” The Law clearly “girdles” the pack, and as the stories show, it links together all the animals of the jungle. It seems that the Law compels the creatures to act in consort, like a single animal. In fact, the poem or song in which it is described, “The Law of the Jungle,” concludes with an image of the Law as a single beast. These lines also serve as an epigraph for The Second Jungle Book: “Now these are the Laws of the Jungle, and many and mighty are they; But the head and the hoof of the Law and the haunch and the hump is—Obey!” For Kipling, the central precept of this law, which establishes and maintains the social order, is submission.

Law is specifically contrasted with savagery in the story with which Kipling concludes the first Jungle Book, “Her Majesty’s Servants.” Here the law that is followed by animals has been created by men—the British military in India—and the rule of the British is glorified. In this story the narrator recounts a conversation among animals that he overhears on a night passed in a military camp where the Viceroy of India is meeting with the Amir of Afghanistan. As a young journalist, Kipling himself attended such an event. In the story, the Amir, described as “a wild king of a very wild country,” has brought with him an entourage of “savage men and savage horses.” “Her Majesty’s Servants,” animals who serve England, grumble about these uncultivated horses who stampede each night through the camp, disrupting their sleep. Throughout the narrative, various beasts speak in turn about how they fight for the British in colonial wars, each asserting that his manner in battle is best. When a youthful mule asks why the beasts must fight at all, the troop-horse, who has been established as a superior fighting animal and “servant,” responds, “Because we are told to.” This story and the first Jungle Book as a whole conclude with a clear message: Obey orders and all will be well. At the end of the tale, the narrator listens to another conversation, this time between a “native officer” and a Central Asian chief, who watch 30,000 British soldiers and their animals parade for the Amir, among them the beasts overheard on the previous night. When the chief marvels at the obedience of the men and animals, asking, “In what manner was this wonderful thing done?” the officer responds, “There was an order, and they obeyed.” The story is then punctuated with the “Parade-Song of the Camp Animals”: The animals sing, “Children of the Camp are we, / Serving each in his degree.” All in all, the lawlessness of “savage” beasts is contrasted with the orderly hierarchy of English-trained animals. Creatures ruled by the English are presented as models of self-regulation and submission. The animals seem to stand in for the Indian people whom the British govern. The rule—and the Law—of the English is thus hailed without ambivalence. This celebration of British rule in India can be seen in other Jungle Book stories as well, such as “The Undertakers” and “Letting in the Jungle.”

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The Jungle Books 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 218 reviews.
The_Beastlord_Slavedragon More than 1 year ago
This book is the best assembly and compilation of the Jungle Books, which were not necessarily written in chronolgical order of the story events, that I have found. Mowgli, meaning naked frog presents himself as the Christ Child bourne in a manger and presented as the holder and keeper of Jungle Law. Kaa the Python, Hathi the Elephant, Baloo the Bear, and Bageerah the Panther, all marshal soldier and advise this child king of the wilds at nation building and holding against the Anti Christ, a daenon in the form of the Tiger Sher Khan. The Seeonee wolf clan are his brethren and like Romulus he is put to the test insofar as much that no wolf can dethrone him from the ascension after the dying Alpha leader, Akela. I cannot do the book justice for it is the Bible of the Oxford school and the Scouts of William Baden Powell, down the line beyond J.R.R. Tolkein, Frank Herbert, Lewis Carol and lo and behold Sting of the Police and onward. The book has been used as a military treatise as to the way of the Continental Soldier of Britian and as a study and meditation into the cosmic and eartly forces of nature. Some of my favorites are: The Day Fear Came, Red Dog, Riki Tiki Tavi, The Song of the Seeonee pack (insert King Solomon), and Jungle Law. This is some of the greatest prose ever written in the English language. Son of Kaa he bespeaketh upon this matter hsssssss.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had read the Jungle Books a while back and enjoyed the stories then. I have recently re-read the 'Books' and found I like them better the second time around. I found this to be one of the true classics of english literature on it's own, but with the Barnes and Noble Classic Series the insight into the author and his world really bring the book to life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I vouldn't get into the book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book tho
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an amazing classic that is a must for readers of all ages! :)
bookwoman247 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The edition that I read contains both the first and the second Jungle Books.I had never read this as a child, and was only familiar with the Disney version. Therefore, this book was full of surprises! Some of my favorite stories, like Rikki Tikki Tavi and many others didn't even make it into the film at all. There were even stories about the Arctic! As far as the Mowgli stories, which were wonderful, Kaa was far wiser and was not an antagonist.I'm so glad that I finally read this. I enjoyed it.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn't expect to love this book as much as I did. Well, as much as I loved a good half of it. This isn't a novel, but a collection of 15 stories. Eight of them do involve Mowgli, a young Indian boy orphaned by the evil tiger Shere Khan, raised by wolves and who can count as friends and protectors Bagheera the black panther, Baloo the bear and Kaa the rock python. I've actually never seen the famous Disney film made from those stories, but that might have helped make the reading experience all the more fresh and delightful. What particularly struck me was the close observation of nature and animals evident right from the first sentence. If I were rating the Mowgli stories alone, I'd rank this book a five. But there are seven other stories, and these I felt more mixed about. I did love "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" about a brave mongoose versus cobras every bit as much as the Mowgli stories. I really liked two stories of the arctic, "The White Seal" about an Alaskan seal trying to find a sanctuary from men seeking to kill seals for fur and "Quiquern" about Canadian Inuits and their dogs searching for food. I liked "The Miracle of Purun Bhagat" and thought "Toomai of the Elephants" Okay. But I didn't like "The Undertakers" at all and hated "Her Majesty's Servants." One of the reasons I didn't expect to like Kipling much at all is his reputation as an imperialist and racist. He's notoriously the author of the poem "The White Man's Burden." (And just because you're the first doesn't mean you're the second. Arthur Conan Doyle struck me as uncritical of imperialism but it was clear from his stories he was no racist--even believed in racial intermarriage. Kipling's views are quite different judging from the introduction to the edition I read.) Despite Kipling's politics though I found reading this book there were good reasons why Indian authors such as Arundhati Roy, V.S. Naipaul and Salman Rushdie find Kipling impressive and even influential. Kipling can be a wonderful storyteller. Rushdie has said Kipling's writing has "the power simultaneously to infuriate and to entrance." Mostly I was entranced. But a few times, and especially in "Her Majesty's Servants," I thought the dark side of Kipling, and his unapologetic imperialism and certainty everyone had their place and should obediently stay in it, was at its worst.
Mialro on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Savage, strange, sad, funny, wonderful. A classic; definitely recommended.
susanbevans on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was in high school for and English class. I got more out of it by picking it up again as an adult. The stories are so rich and involved. When you're reading Kipling you hear the song of the jungle - and you want to be there.
momma2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am glad we read 'Just So Stories' first because I don't know if we would have gone out of our way to read another story by Rudyard Kipling after reading 'The Jungle Books.' The stories about Mowgli were by far the favorites and Rikki Tikki was exciting but we were less than enchanted with this book.
Smiler69 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had come across references to The Jungle Book numerous times over the years, most recently in The Tiger's Wife, where it plays quite an important role, which convinced me it was time to acquaint myself with this classic of children's literature. I vaguely recall reading the abridged and illustrated Mowgli stories as a child, but was quite unprepared for what I found in this omnibus version containing both Jungle Books. The first thing that struck me was the level of sophistication of the stories, which seemed to be possibly too complex, in language at least, to be fully intelligible to children today. The second thing which surprised me was that other than the Mowgli stories¿about a boy raised by wolves who becomes the king of the jungle, so to speak¿none of the other short stories were set in the jungle, and in at least a couple of them, animals were secondary characters only. As is the case with most people, I enjoyed the Mowgli stories most, because of the jungle setting and the variety of wild animals who each in turn are given ample room to express themselves and display their anthropomorphized characters. I've always been fascinated by the notion that certain human beings have a gift for communicating with and understanding animals, and was well regaled here, albeit only in fantasy. It's impossible to read these stories and not be impressed by the unique mentalities and behaviour of the main characters; Akela the wolf, Baloo the bear, Bagheera the panther, Kaa the snake and of course the lame tiger Shere Khan, have all become legendary because each has important life lessons to teach Mowgli and the reader, but more importantly because they become familiar to us as the stories progress while also retaining their mythical status. Had I only rated the Mowgli stories as a whole, some favourites of which are Mowgli's Brothers, Kaa's Hunting, How Fear Came, Red Dog, along with another great favourite, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi¿about the eponymous mongoose who outwits a pair of dangerous snakes¿I would probably have given the books four stars at least. But some of the other stories, such as Her Majesty's Servants, The Undertakers and Quiquern did not at all appeal to me and diluted the experience. Because of this, it is very likely that I will read my favourite selection from the Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book again sometime, and will likely appreciate those stories all the more as I revisit what will by then have become familiar and beloved characters.
rockhopper_penguin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Don't let Disney put you off this -- it's neither sentimental nor soppy. This is an imaginative and sensitive collection of short stories, which do nothing less than imagine the animal kingdom as not the polar opposite to human society but as a parallel society with their own laws and customs. Anyone with an interest in mythology or cultural traditions will find a lot to like in this book. Neither do you have to be a fan of British colonialism: Kipling does not seem to take some of the simplistic attitudes towards India or the British empire that some (but not all) members of the British Raj seemed to take.In short -- if, like me, you had somewhat negative preconceptions of Kipling's work, it's well worth putting them aside and trying reading it. You will probably find it quite different to what you were expecting.
Clurb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I expected to love this one but really wasn't that taken with it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pads into the woods ready to hunt.
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The movie is way better
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