Monday 21 February 2011

The Man who Would be King and Other Stories by Rudyard Kipling

In my last post, I wrote about the difficulty I was having wading through this book, short as it is. Well, I've finally finished it, and it's taken me a week. I am literally so relieved to be done! That being said, at no point did I feel like giving up on it. On paper, the collection is the kind of thing I should really love: the women and children are the heroes, and the men, mostly, are fairly useless. However, and for no reason I can work out, it just didn't grab my attention like a lot of the things I've been reading lately have. While reading it, I could see all of its' literary merit, and that it was very well written and structured. I think that maybe I just didn't relate to it too well. Having said that, the stories that I enjoyed the most (and actually got through without counting how many pages it was until the end!) were the ones featuring children as the central protagonists, and heroic characters. Most notably, 'Wee Willie Winkie', 'Baa Baa Black Sheep', and 'His Majesty the King'. They all showed the way that children unconsciously relate and respond to adults, and also, their resourcefulness, bravery, and the pain that they can go through as a result of adults not always understanding them. I think what I liked the most about these three stories was the authenticity of the children's voices. As opposed to the adult characters in other stories, they were very genuine and guileless, rather than contrived and manipulating, which is how many of the adults came across.
Oddly enough, I've not been put off wanting to read more Kipling. I'd still like to give 'The Jungle Books', and 'Kim' a go, but I think it will be a while before I attempt another one...

Rating: ***


  1. I very much enjoyed The Jungle Book but haven't read any more Kiplings. Maybe the Jungle Book would be better as it's all one coherent story? I find short story collections can be very hit or miss.

  2. I think that was probably my problem with this - there really wasn't a lot of consistency between the stories. I definitely will be trying more though, and think i'll go for 'The Jungle Book' next!

  3. I've never read Kipling, or if I did it was just some short stories or essays in college. I'm glad you were able to finish the collection and that you enjoyed it, for the most part.