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Plain Tales from the Hills (Capuchin Classics) [Paperback]

Griff Rhys Jones , Rudyard Kipling
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Mar 2008
Set and published during the time the British Raj, a time of subalterns and tea planters, tiffin and bands playing The Roast Beef of England , the forty stories in 'Plain Tales From The Hills' are played out under an unforgiving sun, revealing the deceit, faithlessness, shallowness, despair, mistrust, hate and petty jealousies rife amongst the British inhabitants of India. Fascinating, funny, tragic, immensely readable and witty, these stories provide an invaluable insight into life in India during the British Raj, introducing us to the work of one of the most beloved writers of the twentieth century.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Capuchin Classics; New Ed. / edition (5 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0955519632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955519635
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,125,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was born in Bombay in December 1865. He returned to India from England shortly before his seventeenth birthday, to work as a journalist first on the Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore, then on the Pioneer at Allahabad. The poems and stories he wrote over the next seven years laid the foundation of his literary reputation, and soon after his return to London in 1889 he found himself world-famous. Throughout his life his works enjoyed great acclaim and popularity, but he came to seem increasingly controversial because of his political opinions, and it has been difficult to reach literary judgements unclouded by partisan feeling.

Product Description


'These wonderfully observed stories, woven round the lives of the Anglo-Indian community in the 1880s, expose the frailties of this quintessentially British society.' --The Good Book Guide, August 2008.

About the Author

Rudyard Joseph Kipling was born in Bombay in 1865. In 1982 he started work as a journalist in India, and while there produced a body of work, stories, sketches and poems notably Plain Tales from the Hills (1888) which made him an instant literary celebrity when he returned to England the following year. In 1901 Kim appeared and was followed in 1902 by the Just So Stories. Tales of every kind including historical and science fiction continued to flow from his pen, but Kim is generally thought to be his greatest long work, putting him high among the chroniclers of British expansion. He was the first English writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize, in 1907. He died in 1936 and his autobiographical Something of Myself was published the following year. The foreword writer, Griff Rhys Jones, is best known for his many television appearances, most notably Not the Nine O Clock News, and his infamous double-act with Mel Smith. His success on stage was recognised in 1984 with his receiving the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award. In 2002 Rhys Jones was awarded an honorary degree by the University of East Anglia. His life-long enthusiasm for the writings of Rudyard Kipling led to his presenting Kipling A Remembrance Tale for the BBC in 2006.

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SHE was the daughter of Sonoo, a Hill-man of the Himalayas, and Jadeh his wife. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable 8 Jan 2010
By Marku
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was surprised to see some of the other reviewers' comments. To be honest I hadn't realised that it was an abridged version, but as I bought it simply to enjoy rather than for any teaching or other purpose, this didn't detract from the enjoyment.

I have been living in the Indian sub-continent for a while now and I found that these super tales transported me back to a bygone era. Familiar with some of the places mentioned perhaps helped in allowing my imagination to run along freely.

Kipling has a certain old-fashioned style of writing which some will find charming but that perhaps some might find slightly difficult - personally I enjoyed it and felt that it added to the atmosphere of the tales.

Look at the advice of some of the other reviewers, but from my perspective if you simply want a very pleasant book for your own enjoyment, to stir your imagination and to amuse you, I very definitely do recommend this.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Of Subalterns, Stations & Sun 15 Feb 2001
By A Customer
A fascinating collection of short stories from Rudyard Kipling, set and published during the time of the British Raj in India; a time of subalterns and tea planters, tiffin, picnics, riding and shooting, of bands playing, "The Roast Beef of England" and a government which never forgets and NEVER forgives, all played out under an unforgiving sun.
Every emotion is covered in this series of forty tales which reveal the deceit, faithlessness, shallowness, despair, mistrust, hate and petty jealousies rife among the British inhabitants of 'stations', 'Town' and 'Club' across India. Never mind the damn natives it's the damn rulers who need watching.
In 'The Rescue of Pluffles' we learn of an engaged subaltern called Pluffles who 'trusting to his own judgement' embarked on a foolish relationship with a Mrs Reivers, until the formidable Mrs Hauksbee (Mrs Reivers sworn enemy) embarked on, and won, the 'Seven Weeks War' to win him over 'for his fiancee'. The theme in this story is similar to the one in "Three and - an extra" where this time it is Mrs Hauksbee who attempts to "annex" a wayward husband, but fails, as his wife wins him back by....well....just by, "carrying herself superbly" at a dance and making the husband realise what a fool he was being.
In 'Thrown Away' we learn of the tragic tale of a young subaltern who had been brought up under the 'sheltered life system' and as such in an India where 'one must not take things too seriously' according to Kipling, he did just that, being a sensitive boy. The result was that the young man shot himself. The tragedy turns to comedy as Kipling and a Major discover the body and set about covering the suicide up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Capuchin Classics Edition 26 Aug 2011
I know that this review will more than likely get to appear on more than one other edition so I should point out that this is for the Capuchin Classics edition. It is some time since I last read an edition of this book, but it does look complete to me. There is a foreword by Griff Rhys Jones, and a short introduction by Anthony Lejeune.

If you have never read this before, or indeed if you are coming back to it years later, there is one thing to remember. Kipling was a journalist in India, and I know that some if not all of these pieces appeared in the paper he worked for. Due to that a lot of people don't seem to realise that these weren't really written for the public in this country, they were written for the entertainment of the British in the Raj. That is why this book was initially published in India, not here. That they did become so popular in this country shows the quality of Kipling's writing.

Bearing that in mind then, this is a truly great collection of tales about what it must have been like to live and work in India in the latter half of the 19th Century. A few of these tales are of a supernatural nature, and some are more native based, but the vast majority of them are about the British working in a foreign land. A lot of these tales are written as anecdotes, or pieces of gossip, and are vastly entertaining. Kipling doesn't hold back, with biting satire and some great humour. Taking in such things as the loves and working conditions abroad, incompetence, and people just not able to cope with the strange life, this is well worth reading if you want to get a grip on what the Empire was like, as well as great for those who just love a good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Collection 30 July 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In India there are the Plains and there are the Hills (the Himalayas, I believe). So there is something of a pun carried in the title "Plain Tales from the Hills".

You could not wish to find forty more varied and penetrating stories about Anglo/Indian society under the Raj, than these. Kipling was an "insider" and the stories provide a brilliant series of windows into the social life of Simla, the summer capital of the Indian Empire. Besides this, they touch upon a very wide range of subjects, including suicide, (implied) transvestism, opium addiction and infant mortality; love variously lost, found and misplaced; charlatanry, and the supernatural.

Kipling was twenty when he began writing them, and twenty-two when they were published in collected form. They were written in the latter half of the 1880s, when he was working as an assistant editor for the "Civil and Military Gazette" in Lahore, north-western India (now Pakistan). It was this journalistic experience which brought him into daily contact with all sorts and conditions of life in India, and it was in the CMG (a daily newspaper) that these stories were first published, in the form of a series.

Together, the "Plain Tales..." make for a stunning collection.

The "Oxford World's Classics" edition is especially useful. It carries an excellent Introduction and General Preface by Andrew Rutherford, a chronology of Kipling's life, and good Explanatory Notes for the Indian terms which the reader will encounter in the text.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars very good
a fascinating read - but make sure you read kim before because in some of these stories kipling reveals his rather silly, racist side.
Published 3 months ago by James Blades
5.0 out of 5 stars Bedtime Reading
A collection of unusual and intriguing stories from the days of the raj. Recommended bedtime reading, as one can read a single short story, or several, depending on the time... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Elgar
4.0 out of 5 stars The Raj writ large
Kipling, the very name evokes the Imperial Raj. These tales return us to the days when British racial arrogance, cultural snobbishness and belief in God given supremacy over all... Read more
Published 12 months ago by A S Darley
5.0 out of 5 stars good
I have read other novels by this author and can't wait to read this one. It will make a good read on holiday.
Published 14 months ago by tiddioggie
4.0 out of 5 stars Moral tales from a bygone age
Not what i expected at all. Need to understand the culture and language of the age and the time but useful insight. Tales rae short but didactive
Published 14 months ago by David Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Plain Tales from the hills
Short stories are useful for Kindle. These are old favourites. Can be read in odd moments. one two three four
Published 14 months ago by Helen3D
3.0 out of 5 stars Tax dodgers
I am trying not to shop at Amazon until the company pays a reasonable amount of tax on the profits generated by its UK business. Read more
Published 16 months ago by parker51
4.0 out of 5 stars well worth reading
Well written and interesting short stories. Some slightly less enjoyable if you have no knowledge of India. Kipling understands human nature.
Published 17 months ago by meryon
5.0 out of 5 stars Pukka adventure
Kipling is without doubt the master teller of adventures in India be it in a jungle or the cantonment. Read more
Published 22 months ago by B. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars practically perfect
Kipling has been criticised for jingoism. I can only imagine that his critics had never read this collection of short stories. Read more
Published on 29 July 2011 by fabrice
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