Kipling's ‘Jungle Book’ is often seen as the story of a white man becoming the master of a jungle. But it’s also about belonging, identity and self-discovery.
’s The Jungle Books were first published in 1894 and 1895 and feature stories about Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves in an Indian jungle. The stories have remained popular and have inspired numerous adaptations – but their attitudes have been questioned by some parents and critics, who see them as a relic of Britain’s colonial past. Indeed, a classic way of reading the tales is as an allegory for the position of the white colonialist born and raised in India. Mowgli – the Indian boy who becomes the so-called master of the jungle – is understood to be – as Kipling scholar John McClure interprets it: “ behaving towards the beasts as the British do to the Indians ”. So its interesting that among the wide variety of music to be performed at the 2019 Proms is Charles Koechlin’s Les Bandar-log . It’s a piece that he wrote in the first half of the 20th century as part of his nearly life-long effort to set the whole of Rudyard Kipling
’s Jungle Book to music . As a scholar whose focus has been both on Kipling’s children’s literature and, more broadly, the representation of animals in children’s fiction, I’ve been asked to take part in a BBC Radio 3 Proms Plus talk on the subject. The classic account of Kipling, while persuasive.. Read more