London: Macmillan, 1894, 1895. First editions. Original publisher's cloth bindings with gilt to spines and boards. All edges brightly gilt. Gentle bumping to extremities. Small knick to the spine of Jungle Book and dampstain at the lower gutter of the first and last few leaves. Dark green endpapers. Internally both copies bright and clean, with just a bit of scattered foxing to the second. An attractive pair of Kipling's most memorable works.
Based on folk tales and legends that Kipling learned during his childhood in India but written while in Vermont. This work of several inter-related short stories met with huge success upon publication and continues to enthrall readers of all ages to this day. According to Professor Edwin L. Miller, their publication "caused even severe critics of [Kipling's] previous work to admit that he is a writer of inspired genius." Largely focused on man's relationship to nature, The Jungle Books in part narrate the tales of Mowgli, a human (man-cub) raised by wolves, as he tries to find his proper place in the world. As he struggles with his own identity, he finds allies and adversaries among the animal communities through which he travels. They also include the story of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, the heroic mongoose who would later inspire an animated short voiced by Orson Welles. For contributions like these, Kipling became the first English-language writer, and the youngest ever, to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Near Fine (Item #4161)