(notes edited by
|notes on the text|
'Kipling himself ... in a winsome preface to "In the Rukh" when it was reprinted in McClure's Magazine in June 1896, began the process of trying to incorporate it into the Mowgli canon:The story
'This tale ... was the first written of the Mowgli stories, though it deals with the closing chapters of his career, namely, his introduction to white men, his marriage and civilisation, all of which took place, we may infer, two or three years after he had finally broken away from his friends in the jungle... Those who know th geography of India will know that it is a far cry from Seeonee to a Northern Forest Reserve, but though many curious things must have befallen Mowgli, we have no certain record of his adventires during those wanderings. There are, however, legends'.
This process was confirmed when "In the Rukh" was added to the rearranged stories in the Outward Bound edition the following year. The present ediitor (Dr Karlin) will have nothing to do with this creeping legitimisation of "In the Rukh".
... somehow Mowgli, his face 'that of an angel strayed among the woods', has not the same glamour in contact with white men as with his wolf-brethren and Bagheera the black panther. His world is the ideal world of fantasy, not a world that holds officials of the Indian Woods and Forests Department or Mohammedan butlers and their beautiful daughters. And this, even though the tale of a human infant suckled by wild beasts is, if we can believe the peasants of jungle villages, less improbable than it may sound.J M S Tompkins (p. 68) writes:
Mowgli of `In the Rukh' does not quite tally with the Mowgli of The Jungle Books. Professor Carrington tells us that the tale was written after "Mowgli's Brothers", the first of that series; otherwise we should have guessed that it was written before, and, indeed, that is the impression that Kipling himself conveys in Something of Myself.And Professor J I M Stewart (p. 116) observes the same inconsistencies:
It is not so much that "In the Rukh" plays in the Doon, a far cry from the Seeonee Hills, or that this Mowgli's sketch of his history needs some humouring to fit it into what we know of the boy of The Jungle Books, but he speaks to Gray Brother as to a dog, in human language, and is 'very mistrustful of the firelight and ready to fly back to the thicket on the least alarm'. Yet the child Mowgli spoke to the beasts in their own tongues, and, in the first tale, showed his superiority to them by nursing the Red Flower in a fire-pot and using it as a weapon against the tiger.
It is an odd inconsistency, if Professor Carrington is right; but all it signifies, perhaps, is that it took time for an imaginary world to establish its conditions. Kipling was embarked upon a different kind of creation from the brilliant selections from the known world that had made his name.
What is interesting about 'In the Rukh' is the entire absence of the magic which the Jungle Books were going to create. Kipling has not yet glimpsed what material he has under his hand; this Mowgli is an implausible mixture of Noble Savage, Indian native properly respectful of the Raj, and a godling strayed out of Greek mythology in a manner rather reminiscent of some of the more whimsical short stories of E. M. Forster. ( Mowgli plays a flute, 'as it might have been the song of son wandering wood-god' ... "In the Rukh" was almost certainly written before Kipling had conceived the Mowgli stories proper, but in its published form it may embody revisions designed to make it fit in with the evolving series.