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Plain Tales from the Hills Paperback – 30 May 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: House of Stratus; New edition edition (30 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842329529
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842329528
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.8 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,644,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"A prophet of British imperialism." --George Orwell

"Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius (as distinct from fine intelligence) that I have ever known." --Henry James

"These stories are the best account of the nature of the Victorian Raj ever written." --Griff Rhys Jones, actor and editor, "The Nation's Favourite Twentieth Century Poems"

"As the age of the European empires recedes, he is recognized as an incomparable, if controversial, interpreter of how empire was experienced. That, and an increasing recognition of his extraordinary narrative gifts, make him a force to be reckoned with." --Douglas Kerr, author, "George Orwell" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Nobel prize-winning writer Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, India, but returned with his parents to England at the age of five. Influenced by experiences in both India and England, Kipling s stories celebrate British imperialism and the experience of the British soldier in India. Amongst Kipling s best-known works are The Jungle Book, Just So Stories, and the poems Mandalay and Gunga Din. Kipling was the first English-language writer to receive the Nobel prize for literature (1907) and was amongst the youngest to receive the award. Kipling died in 1936 and is interred in Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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, sportsmanship 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kipling has been criticised for jingoism. I can only imagine that his critics had never read this collection of short stories. He is the (first person)narrator of these vivid vignettes of life in the British Raj, which gives them an intimate quality as if he were confiding them to you over a whisky and soda at the club on a hot Indian night. His voice is sane and practical and humane and the strong message is that we are all capable of envy, weakness and greed but also of loyalty, courage and disinterested love. Nothing is impossible or shocking for him, even the supernatural. He makes no judgements but presents the facts and asks you what you make of it all.

Above all he is a masterly story teller and before you are aware, under cover of the fascinating account, he has presented you with a phrase or an image or an idea which you never forget.

This is an excellent introduction to his work and if it leaves you hungry for more I suggest you read 'Kim' and "Stalky and Co' (surely the suavest ever schoolboys) and his remarkable short stories set in England which are as illuminating of the era as Plain Tales is of the Raj.

If this is your first time with Kipling, I envy you.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
Kipling comes with some challenging baggage but he remains undoubtedly a great and entertaining writer, particularly in the short story form as in this collection. So what do we have in this collection? The central theme of course is colonial India, and mainly one specific geographic area, Simla, which Kipling had spent several periods of leave in. A number of the stories are also connected by several characters that appear or are referenced in more than one tale.

However, while connected by theme and characters, the nature of the tales varies considerably. There are; comedies; morality tales; sad stories; maudlin tales, a supernatural yet comedic yarn; and one moment of sudden horror. A great read which makes me glad that I have more Kipling short stories waiting in my to be read plies.

NB reviews for a number of different editions of this collection appear to be grouped here. The edition I read was the Penguin Popular Classics ISBN 0140620923 version and it is unabridged unlike some editions mentioned here.
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