If

Two weeks ago we finished If: The Untold Story of Kipling’s American Years by Christopher Benfey.  One surprising feature of this biography is that Rudyard Kipling was actually in New England for a good portion of this time, not so far away from Saint Anselm, given that he was living in Brattleboro, Vermont, in view of Mount Monadnock.  There he wrote The Jungle Book!  His time in America also led to the writing of the poem “If” and the novel, Captains Courageous.  He arrived in the US in 1889.

The set-up of the book at the beginning is quite well done, as is the section on the writing of The Jungle Book, especially in the comparison of its human protagonist, Mowgli, with the later works by Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose central character was the famous Tarzan.  However, this work on Kipling, while quite good, at times does not lend itself well to table reading.  Its style may just be too literary.

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