Kipling Stories:
Twenty-eight Exciting Tales by the Master Storyteller

Rudyard Kipling

Platt and Munk 1960
A book review by Danny Yee © 2008
This collection contains twenty eight of Kipling's stories from the 1880s, set in India mostly in and around military encampments, but covering a wide variety of subjects. Several feature the adventures of the three soldiers Mulvaney, Learoyd and Ortheris. A few have children as protagonists. A number feature ghosts or hauntings, though mostly with ultimately natural explanations. And many have autobiographical elements, featuring a barely fictionalised author as protagonist or first-person narrator.

Kipling is a great storyteller and these are all fine short stories, engaging, well paced and easy to read. The only drawback is that some of them have dialogue in rough phonetic rendition of cant or dialect, which poses more of a challenge now than it would have a hundred and twenty years ago.

Though narrowly focused, Kipling's stories also offer a useful perspective on the British Raj, with a view from the lowest levels of its hegemonic layers. The details are often informative: one of the more fantastic stories, for example, is an account of two adventurers attempting to become kings in Kafiristan, but its framing involves the mundane operations of a small newspaper.

This particular collection is long out of print, but there's no shortage of options for those wanting to read Kipling's short stories. They are out of copyright and freely available online, while print options include an attractive and inexpensive Everyman hardcover collection.

November 2008

Related reviews:
- books about India + Indian history
- more short fiction