Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 435
The Jungle Books, published in two volumes in 1894 and 1895, Kipling’s most famous and endearing work, is a collection of stories for children set in the jungles of India and featuring animals as their main characters. The most famous are the stories featuring the character of Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves in the jungle. ‘‘Rikki-Tikki-Tavi’’ appears in the second volume.
Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906) is one of Kipling’s lesser-known children’s novels. Like the Jungle Books it features a fantasy world in which Puck the fairy of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream appears to children who are performing the play and leads them on adventures.
Just-So Stories (1902) is another collection of children’s stories by Rudyard Kipling. This series of stories draws on the folklore of India to explain in a fanciful manner the origins of different animals. Some stories include ‘‘How the Leopard Got Its Spots’’ and ‘‘The Cat That Walked by Himself.’’
Captains Courageous (1897) is a coming-of-age novel by Kipling that relates the adventures of a rich, spoiled boy who is rescued from a shipwreck by a fishing boat. This novel is typically classified as appropriate for young readers.
Kim (1901) is often said to be Kipling’s most mature novel. The main character Kim, also known as Kimball O’Hara, is the orphaned son of an Irish soldier who lives on the streets of India. In a search for his destiny, he embarks on travels that bring him across such figures as the Tibetan Dalai Lama. Although the novel does contain several racial stereotypes, it has also been praised in modern times for its ability to rise above the racism that characterized other contemporary works.
The Wind in the Willows, by the Scottish writer Kenneth Grahame, is a collection of children’s stories published in 1924, about the same time that Kipling wrote. Like many of Kipling’s children’s works, it, too, features an imaginary world populated by distinctively characterized animals, emulating a popular trend in children’s writing.
A Passage to India, a novel by English writer E. M. Forster, was first published in 1924 when India was still a part of the British Empire. The novel, although incorporating some distinctly British, colonialist points of view, explores the controversies surrounding relationships between the different races and offers the hope of reconciliation and mutual respect.
Orientalism (1978), a work of criticism by the post-colonial theorist Edward Said, is a seminal criticism of British imperialism and its aftermath. In particular, Said concentrates on the use of literature by Victorian Britain to promote colonization and the exploitation and oppression of other races.