Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Jungle Book

No pictures today, I haven't had much time for photography lately. One thing I have been doing a lot of is reading. With a 45 minute bus ride before and after work, there's lots of reading time! One thing I have quickly discovered is that the classics are classic for a reason - many of them hold up just fine as excellent, entertaining reading, even a hundred or more years after they were written!

My favorites so far (in no particular order):
  • Jane Eyre (1847)
  • A Princess of Mars (1912)
  • The Jungle Book (1894)
  • War of the Worlds (1895)
  • Treasure Island  (1881)
  • anything with Sherlock Holmes (1887)

All available on Project Gutenberg for free!

I thought I would share this little piece of The Jungle Book. BTW, there's a lot more to this book than the Disney movie - especially the story of Riki Tiki Tavi - I have happy memories of watching the cartoon when I was a kid.

Here Mowgli has returned to the world of Man, and is put on herding duty with the other boys. I think this passage particularly shows why a well written book is such a joy, and a peek into another world, another life, described in such detail that it can make you hate to turn the page and leave it behind:

Then Mowgli picked out a shady place, and lay down and slept while
the buffaloes grazed round him. Herding in India is one of the laziest
things in the world. The cattle move and crunch, and lie down, and move
on again, and they do not even low. They only grunt, and the buffaloes
very seldom say anything, but get down into the muddy pools one after
another, and work their way into the mud till only their noses and
staring china-blue eyes show above the surface, and then they lie like
logs. The sun makes the rocks dance in the heat, and the herd children
hear one kite (never any more) whistling almost out of sight overhead,
and they know that if they died, or a cow died, that kite would sweep
down, and the next kite miles away would see him drop and follow, and
the next, and the next, and almost before they were dead there would be
a score of hungry kites come out of nowhere. Then they sleep and
wake and sleep again, and weave little baskets of dried grass and put
grasshoppers in them; or catch two praying mantises and make them fight;
or string a necklace of red and black jungle nuts; or watch a lizard
basking on a rock, or a snake hunting a frog near the wallows. Then they
sing long, long songs with odd native quavers at the end of them, and
the day seems longer than most people's whole lives, and perhaps they
make a mud castle with mud figures of men and horses and buffaloes, and
put reeds into the men's hands, and pretend that they are kings and the
figures are their armies, or that they are gods to be worshiped. Then
evening comes and the children call, and the buffaloes lumber up out of
the sticky mud with noises like gunshots going off one after the other,
and they all string across the gray plain back to the twinkling village
lights.
 
_ 

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