***FYI this is going to be a slightly different review to what I would normally write.***
There are many things that I find fascinating in the world. Especially now. Society is changing. But what about those of us that grew up before this change? How are we going to be seen in the future? Are we going to be heralds of change or antiquated dinosaurs. I was super excited to read Not So Stories. The anthology of stories made me think about many different things. I went into this reading with only knowing fragments about Rudyard Kipling. He wrote The Jungle Book and was born in India during colonial rule. After finishing Not So Stories I wanted to do a little research on Rudyard.
I found that he was born in India during the British colonial occupation. He felt very strongly that colonialism was going to change the world. Well, it did but not necessarily in the way he believed. But here is the part that I am having a hard time wrapping my head around. Society and people are very different now. We understand the effect that colonialism has on indigenous populations. It strips culture and old beliefs from the original peoples. We understand that as a society in 2018. But would that have been the popular social theories at the time? What would the beliefs of the people been? That is what I have a hard time wrapping my brain around. Do we read some of Kiplings writings as people in 2018 with a completely different world view to that of Kipling? with the understanding that they may not fit within our narrative? Or do we erase him from the literary narrative altogether?
The second part that I have a hard time wrapping my head around is that as a small child he would have been cared for by non-british peoples. Hearing the stories that his minders told him. Which would have been the same stories they, themselves grew up hearing. (No, the idea that his minders were servants is not lost on me). So where does that leave some of the children’s stories that Kipling wrote such as, Rikki Tikki Tavi which I recently reread to help the youngest child with a school project. Now, I don’t know how to feel about that story. Or is this just where we are at in society at the moment?
I know that Kipling has been a source of controversy forever with everyone from Orwell to modern writers such as Narayan. Do we cast off what Rudyard has written as colonial bullshit? No, I don’t think that we should. It reminds us of what was wrong during that time period. I think you can read any classical writer and find uncomfortable view points that don’t necessarily fit with society today. They are like touchstones in time good, bad or indifferent. But here is the interesting thing we can always write retellings or base another story of off the original. This is not changing the original story but rather changing the underlying message to fit more in line with the societal narrative at that time. And use the original as a socitial and political mirror. I don’t know the answer and right now I only have more questions.
Summary: A retelling of Kipling’s Just so Stories.
What I liked: This anthology with its beautiful cover made me think. Think about many different things. The writing was beautiful and the stories were lovely. There is heart break and sorrow and joy. So many different emotions written and wrapped up in these small packages. I find all the different points of view to be amazing. All the stories are vibrant and fresh.
What I didn’t like: There are a couple of things that I didn’t particularly care for. But this will not take away from my star rating. I am looking at the story in the point of view that it is written from.
Stary Rating: 5
My thoughts: I think I have a lot of thoughts and may need to write a blog post later about Kipling and other writers who have come under criticism since they have published their writings. But all in all I truly enjoyed this book.
A big thanks go to Rebellion Publishing for sending me a copy of Not So Stories for my review.