The Jungle Book

Booklet courtesy of Richard Blacher. Comments and pictures by Paul Jackson.

The Jungle Book
A Criticism

By Fra Elbertus, 1906

This booklet measures 6" x 4 1/2" and has 32 numbered pages. Hubbard's long standing spat with Kipling continues in his criticism of Kipling's the Jungle Book.

Hubbard's long standing spat with Kipling started when he took Artistic license with Kipling's book the Last Chanty and published it under the name Dipsy Chanty. For publishing Kipling's work in the December 1895 Philistine and then in book form, Kipling sued Hubbard for surrender of all unsold copies of the book and $47.50 plus legal fees. Kipling received $75.00 and 169 copies of the book.
"Hubbard wrote a letter to the New York times Saturday Review in answer to an article about the suit. He boasted that he agreed to withdraw the book because he had sold all that he could and he agreed to pay Kipling's legal fees because it did not matter whether he had to pay his other the other fellow's lawyer." For the record Hubbard had printed at least 3 editions of 950 copies of the "Last "Dipsy" Chanty", this is not to mention the edition of 100, the edition of 80 and the edition of 60. Excerpt from "A History and Bibliography of The Roycroft Printing Shop" by Paul McKenna.

"Kipling's Barbaric Yawp" Literary Digest 19 (July 29, 1899).
Another voice is raised in protest against "the Kipling hysteria." This time it is Mr. Elbert Hubbard, who in The Philistine (July) makes an onset upon Kipling in the amusingly unconventional Roycroft style, which, like the Roycroft books, is something unique. Mr. Hubbard admits the literal truth of Professor Norton's statement that "the strongest individual voice in contemporary literature is that of Rudyard Kipling"; but, he says, the voice to him is "often heady, and occasionally guttural." The voice has timbre, it carries, but it is not smooth, musical, nor vibratory. "The vocal spectrum reveals small trace of the refined, gentle, or sympathetic in Rudyard's nature." The writer then proceeds to tell why we have accepted Kipling with such apparent unanimity:

"Kipling voices violence -- Kipling voices nothing better than that which the world has held and followed since history began. That is to say, Kipling represents power for prowess -- violence that good may come: Christianity on the point of a spear -- civilization dealt out with a catapult. And the reason we have accepted Kipling and gulped him without question is because as a people we are essentially barbaric.

"To a degree his vogue is due to a recoil from a sham culture and an over-refinement which certain poets who had latch-keys to the popular magazines were trying to push upon us. From inanity and presence we turn to rugged nature. Yet civilization demands that nature be tamed, lest perforce the ethics of the barnyard prevail, To a degree we must spiritualize nature and tame the tiger in our hearts.

"Yet here comes Kipling, loud, blatant, hairy -- voicing the old, old doctrine of force and violence in which we Christians have always believed; and lo! we hail Rudyard as a prophet. We hail any man as a prophet who voices the things we believe. Kipling represents the beast-like in our nature -- the mob spirit -- he goes in droves and hordes, making a mighty howl, and the echo of his hobnailed mirth smothers the still small voice that a few fain would hear."

Mr. Hubbard, who says that he has had "Kiplingitis" in every form from varioloid to acute, but is now immune, goes on to explain the grounds of his present opinion of Kipling:

"I admire Kipling, but well on this side of idolatry, and think I know his limitations. And among the reasons why all these screechy attempts to work his apotheosis will fail, I will name two:

"1. Kipling has no comprehension of the nature and attributes of a good woman.

"2. He has no understanding of the value of Silence and Peace.

"As to the first of these counts, let me say that all literature is a confession. We write of the things that we do know -- we write of the things that fill our waking hours and haunt our dreams. Outside of this, we may make occasional skirmishes into -- well, say a roundhouse, and with the help of a wiper make a list of the parts of a locomotive; and then, to bamboozle the world into the belief that we are versatile, write a story, incorporating all the locomotive parts we have listed, and let an engineer correct the final proof. We could do that, or we could write a horse story and call a trotting-horse a thoroughbred, making the horses talk, but it would all cost conscious effort, and this effort would show in the work, and stamp the whole as Class B -- just fairish machine-made stuff....

"To sum woman up as 'a rag and a bone and hank of hair' is the last word on the woman question that Kipling has to say. To him woman is a vampire that sucks the life-blood of men. He shows several women who possess a dogged loyalty and cling in maudlin fondness to the hand that strikes them; and many others of similar nature who are slaves, pets, and playthings of men; but the woman of intellect and aspiration -- honest and helpful -- fit comrade for a strong and earnest man, he does not know. If she existed in his brain, he would have pictured her on paper, If he ever met such a woman, he failed to appreciate her nature, and in his dreams he never conjured her forth....

"As a writer, Kipling has wrung his soul dry for copy, and then to satisfy the demands of publishers he has gone outside and written 'Stalky Stories.' But the strong and good woman for him does not live, because his ideals are the ideals of an age that held woman as a chattel, or purchased her favors on the Rialto, thus saving the bother of supplying her board and clothes....

"Representing an age of materialistic power and pomp, he believes in war, and is the advocate and apologist of strife and violence. And this brings us up to the second fact, which is that Mr. Kipling has no conception of the value of Silence and Peace. To cultivate the Silence means to have such an absence of fear that you find a pleasure in solitude. Only good men can bear to be alone. 'Give me solitude, sweet solitude; but in my solitude give me still one friend to whom I may murmur, solitude is sweet.' The war spirit means combinations, alliances, fortresses, bars, and loaded cannon. It means crowds, mobs, fear, hate, unrest, gloating glee, flaunting pride, boastful vanity -- hell either way and in any event. Kipling's poem 'The Truce of the Bear' gave two nations a twist to starboard, by ingeniously picturing the Czar as a bear that liked a man's face and took it -- first getting the man, through a shallow ruse, to lay down his gun. Thus did Kipling show that it matters not who makes the laws, if he can write our songs. Kipling did the Czar a most rank injustice in assuming that Russia was only working to get the rest of us within reach and then claw the countenance off us....

"A clever singer of songs came to us from over the sea, married one of our fair daughters, paid a beautiful tribute to her brother -- dead and gone -- altho she has another left -- and we have yearned toward this singer, and made his songs our litany -- forgetful of their barbaric brutality -- forgetful that such songs have cursed the world a-down the centuries -- songs of violence, blood, and sudden death!

"Fie upon the writer! and shame upon us who have accepted his jolt-head jests and barbaric yawp for holy inspiration."

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