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Based on Rudyard Kipling's own adolescent experiences, Stalky and Co. is a cunning story of mischievous nineteenth-century British schoolboys attempting scholastic mutiny. The faculty and headmaster of a boys' private school repeatedly pursue a trio of poetic pranksters—"Stalky," "Beetle," and "Turkey"—as they wage war on fellow students and the "establishment" with unwaverin Based on Rudyard Kipling's own adolescent experiences, Stalky and Co. is a cunning story of mischievous nineteenth-century British schoolboys attempting scholastic mutiny. The faculty and headmaster of a boys' private school repeatedly pursue a trio of poetic pranksters—"Stalky," "Beetle," and "Turkey"—as they wage war on fellow students and the "establishment" with unwavering energy and creativity. Stalky and Co. is at times poignant in its realistic portrayal of boys negotiating manhood and hilarious in its illustration of their relentless attempts to beat the system, even in the face of creative punishment and a savvy housemaster. Listeners of all ages will delight in this tale of ingenious schemes and rebellious antics.


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Based on Rudyard Kipling's own adolescent experiences, Stalky and Co. is a cunning story of mischievous nineteenth-century British schoolboys attempting scholastic mutiny. The faculty and headmaster of a boys' private school repeatedly pursue a trio of poetic pranksters—"Stalky," "Beetle," and "Turkey"—as they wage war on fellow students and the "establishment" with unwaverin Based on Rudyard Kipling's own adolescent experiences, Stalky and Co. is a cunning story of mischievous nineteenth-century British schoolboys attempting scholastic mutiny. The faculty and headmaster of a boys' private school repeatedly pursue a trio of poetic pranksters—"Stalky," "Beetle," and "Turkey"—as they wage war on fellow students and the "establishment" with unwavering energy and creativity. Stalky and Co. is at times poignant in its realistic portrayal of boys negotiating manhood and hilarious in its illustration of their relentless attempts to beat the system, even in the face of creative punishment and a savvy housemaster. Listeners of all ages will delight in this tale of ingenious schemes and rebellious antics.

30 review for Stalky and Co., with eBook

  1. 4 out of 5

    Simon Mcleish

    Originally published on my blog here in July 2001. Few of Kipling's fictional stories contain much of an autobiographical element, despite his frequent use of the first person. In this collection of stories, the school and some of the characters are based on his own experiences; Beetle, in particular, is a self portrait. The Devon boarding school portrayed in the book is basically a factory for producing future officers of the British army to serve in the colonies, and is by mo Originally published on my blog here in July 2001. Few of Kipling's fictional stories contain much of an autobiographical element, despite his frequent use of the first person. In this collection of stories, the school and some of the characters are based on his own experiences; Beetle, in particular, is a self portrait. The Devon boarding school portrayed in the book is basically a factory for producing future officers of the British army to serve in the colonies, and is by modern standards a violent place, with bullying and savage corporal punishment. Yet Kipling's evident nostalgia for his time at the school infects the reader, who senses the intensity of the friendships and the enjoyment of the experiences, which mainly focus on triumphs over the more petty minded masters. The success of his treatment makes a modern reader quite uncomfortable, especially when he seems to have fond memories of bullying. The way that his schoolboys rebel against authority was controversial at the time, but much less so now. Times have changed. The reader is also made aware, more deliberately, of a different dark undercurrent. Sprinkled throughout the stories are notes about the future deaths of the boys; they are destined to die young in the service of the British Empire. (One of them, interestingly, is going to be shot by his own men, a less glorified death than the others.) Kipling's point is presumably that the Empire was maintained at a human cost; despite his reputation as a jingoist, this is not the only place where he showed an awareness of this. Few today would deny that there was a human cost, though the focus has canged so that we would think about what it meant to the colonised rather than the coloniser. Stalky and Co. is one of the most uncomfortable of Kipling's books to read, and this is a measure of the author's talent, as he glories in what is to us unpalatable and almost brings us to feel we appreciate it too.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elena

    People have tried to talk me out of liking this book since before I actually read it. There's something less than subtly discouraging about opening your book on a quote by a George Sampson that says "an unpleasant book about unpleasant boys at an unpleasant school". But I don't know who George Sampson was and, after looking it up on the internet, it's this guy who shows up: People have tried to talk me out of liking this book since before I actually read it. There's something less than subtly discouraging about opening your book on a quote by a George Sampson that says "an unpleasant book about unpleasant boys at an unpleasant school". But I don't know who George Sampson was and, after looking it up on the internet, it's this guy who shows up: Of course, if I were to read the fifth line of the introduction I would find that Wells "condemns the heroes as self-righteous bullies", and I do know who Wells is, but let's be honest. I never made it that far into the introduction. Stalky, Beetle and M'Turk have so much fun being unpleasant that I'm on their side. They're bullies, but they're fun bullies, and brilliant ones, and they enjoy playing with language and messing with people just as much. I don't mind that they're mean. Of course, there's this scene. "He says he doesn't know anything about bullyin'. Haven't we taught you a lot?" "Yes-yes!" "He says we've taught him a lot. Aren't you grateful?" "Yes!" "He says he's grateful" But beatings happened in that sort of school, and this one is unusually light-humoured. In the one that Saki writes in the Unbearable Bassington, the one doing the flogging enjoyed it. Stalky & Co are ruthless (and it's epic) but they're far from sadists. Speaking about epic, what's there not to like about a whole story translating Horace? Nothing, that's what. It's just that... When King complains about the smells that come from the other class, Paddy comments, because he remembers last term's Ode: "Non hoc semper erit liminis aut aquae caelestis patiens latus." "This side will not always be patient of rain and waiting on the threshold". King, the teacher, retorts: "And you remembered? The same head that minted probrosis as a verb! Vernon, you are an enigma." When your class has been called names for similar reasons for many years, that cracks you up. And there's french, too: ‘Shut up! Did you ever know your Uncle Stalky get you into a mess yet?’ Like many other leaders, Stalky did not dwell on past defeats. The cheroot burned with sputterings of saltpetre. They smoked it gingerly, each passing to the other between closed forefinger and thumb. ‘Good job we hadn’t one apiece, ain’t it?’ said Stalky, shivering through set teeth. To prove his words he immediately laid all before them, and they followed his example. . . . ‘I told you,’ moaned Beetle, sweating clammy drops. ‘Oh, Stalky, you are a fool!’ ‘Je cat, tu cat, il cat. Nous cattons!’ M‘Turk handed up his contribution and lay hopelessly on the cold iron. And there's the english: "Come to my arms, my beamish boy!" carolled M'Turk, and they fell into each other's arms dancing. "Oh, frabjous day! Calloo, callay!" Through the Looking Glass. They're total fanboys, they adore or despise. I suppose that, being Kipling-the-evil-imperialist, it might be relevant to include this quote too: He shook it before them- a large calico Union Jack, staring in all three colours, and waited for the thunder of applause that should crown his effort. They looked in silence. They had certainly seen the thing before- but [...]. What, in the name of everything caddish, was he driving at, who waved that horror before their eyes? Happy thought! Perhaps he was drunk. I understand that what I have written in praise is also proof that the book is completely outdated. But it'll be more accurate to say that it has lost its public. It's definitely a book for kids, as I was when I read it, and contrarily to Saki there is no innuendo, and the games are the sort that you enjoy as a teen, when lots of things are done for not other reason than to tap into new energy. But it also requires that you have an understanding of where these students were headed, that this was an empire building its future; and you have to like mocking forgotten books and dead languages.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    This and P.G. Wodehouse's are among the best of the "school stories" genre--boarding school stories that were enormously popular during the latter part of the nineteenth century, and the first half of the twentieth, with a rapid falling off around WW II. Most school stories, Wodehouse's included, shroud the boys in eternal youth, their bright star shining at games and being prefects, etc. There is scarce a hint at the prospect of being a grownup--except in Kipling's hilarious, brillia This and P.G. Wodehouse's are among the best of the "school stories" genre--boarding school stories that were enormously popular during the latter part of the nineteenth century, and the first half of the twentieth, with a rapid falling off around WW II. Most school stories, Wodehouse's included, shroud the boys in eternal youth, their bright star shining at games and being prefects, etc. There is scarce a hint at the prospect of being a grownup--except in Kipling's hilarious, brilliantly written, but violently roustabout series of stories. The intent of all these stories is to show how this school hardened the boys to pain, shaping them for army service--the maneuvering of their pranks furnishing lessons for war maneuvers in future. I see something else going on even farther underneath that, which is Kipling's deep crush on Stalky (based on the real life L. C. Dunsterville), who makes his appearance in the first written of the stories, "in black tights and doublet, a black silk half-mask on his forehead, whistling lazily where he lay on top of the piano." Though another character--"Dick Four stood firm in the confidence born of well-fitting tights"--is recorded as self-aware of looking good, the brief but telling physical descriptions of Stalky later, in a story where very little physical detail is supplied of the boys, indicates that Beetle was aware of Stalky in his tights if Stalky himself wasn't. I don't know that Kipling's crush was lust so much as a euphoric admiration for the type of person Dunsterville/Stalky was and he could never be--short, fat, hairy, half-blind with near-sightedness as Kipling was. There was no question of the army as a career for him, but he did his best to get near the others by becoming a journalist in India, where he followed the military life closely. Many have wondered why Kipling wrote these stories years after he left the school. I wonder if it's because he heard about Dunsterville's exploits; also telling is the fact that though Kipling claimed a life-long friendship with Dunsterville, that did not go two ways. Not that Dunsterville rejected Kipling. He seems to have been a genial man, first to laugh at himself, friendly to all. But his interest in Kipling seems to have been mild, whereas the reverse was not true. And of course much ink has been spilled about Kipling's martial ardor and unstinting love of the glory of empire in his other writings. It is unnerving to reread "Slaves of the Lamp II" and Kipling's paean to Dunsterville through Stalky's exploits in India and Afghanistan. At the end, the thirty-year-old schoolmates are gathered at the home of one of their number who inherited a baronetcy and wealth, and yet who misses the army. Two of the fellows have had their health ruined, but they show the usual stoic indifference to pain that Kipling heavily underscores through the stories. At the very end, Kipling trumpets with war-like euphoria, through Beetle, his mouthpiece in the stories, ' . . . India's full of Stalkies--Cheltenham and Haileybury and Marlborough chaps--that we don't know anything about, and the surprises will begin when there is a really big row on.' 'Who will be surprised?' said Dick Four. 'The other side. The gentleman who go to the front in first-class carriages. Just imagine Stalky let loose on the south side of Europe with a sufficiency of Sikhs and a reasonable prospect of loot. Consider it quietly.' These men's sons would be the ones to be shipped to the Somme in WW I a few years later. As Kipling's was in reality, to be shot down at age eighteen, the same age as Everett, so young he looked girlish lying dead in the snow, and the boy glorified in "A Little Prep." The anguish Kipling felt afterward, and recorded, was a far cry from the stories' militant and glorious indifference to such young lives summarily wiped out in service to empire.

  4. 4 out of 5

    astried

    Re-read 2018 I must’ve read this countless time.. each time it’s still very entertaining. Though each time darker thought creeps deeper into it. I need to read it sparingly to not break it. ———- Stalky & co is the ultimate boy's boarding school book for me. If Enid Blyton's numerous school stories reigned my childhood, then Stalky is the story I can continue to enjoy in my adulthood. It's devilishly funny & one of my favourite Kipling's work. My most favo Re-read 2018 I must’ve read this countless time.. each time it’s still very entertaining. Though each time darker thought creeps deeper into it. I need to read it sparingly to not break it. ———- Stalky & co is the ultimate boy's boarding school book for me. If Enid Blyton's numerous school stories reigned my childhood, then Stalky is the story I can continue to enjoy in my adulthood. It's devilishly funny & one of my favourite Kipling's work. My most favourite would have to be Baa Baa Blacksheep (i think that's the title) short story which I somehow mislaid. It's a shame that during this last re-read I became more aware of the imperialistic tone that Kipling's world has. Nothing blatantly annoying, just having this thought at the back of my mind that these boys, these wonderfully wild & incorrigible boys, were drilled to become soldiers defending the "rights" of british empire; and some of them will die because of it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    DNF. I tried, believe me, I did it. My friend loves the book and I'm also a fan of boarding-school stories. But I just couldn't get through this one. The students were a**holes, the teachers were abusive and overall it was too "boys will be boys"-ish for my liking. Every chapter I managed to finish left a bad taste in my mouth.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)

    As a kid I dreamed of going to boarding school; dunno why, as I probably would have been bullied and mocked there even more than I was in a small rural public school. But I did; maybe I just wanted to leave home for 9 months out of every year. I first heard of Stalky and Co about 25 years or so ago, cross-referenced in The Railway Children when Peter shouts at one of his sisters something along the lines of, "You're not funny--and you got it out of Stalky!" Up to then, the only Kipling books As a kid I dreamed of going to boarding school; dunno why, as I probably would have been bullied and mocked there even more than I was in a small rural public school. But I did; maybe I just wanted to leave home for 9 months out of every year. I first heard of Stalky and Co about 25 years or so ago, cross-referenced in The Railway Children when Peter shouts at one of his sisters something along the lines of, "You're not funny--and you got it out of Stalky!" Up to then, the only Kipling books I was really aware of were of course The Jungle Books. I picked up this edition of Stalky and Co. shortly after and read it several times. What was my surprise about a year ago to discover this "Complete" edition, which contains 4 "Stalky stories" not included in the standard editions! I really enjoyed learning how Stalky got his name, and some of the footnotes were useful, particularly the one that explains the moniker of "Rabbits-Eggs" (up to now I figured he sold rabbits and eggs, either of his own production or poached from the hens of others). However, I can see why the stories weren't included in the standard editions offered up to the young when first published; the "missing" stories are a bit long and verbose and less interesting than the rest (particularly "The Idolaters" which--dare I say it?--pushes credulity to the very limit, even for Stalky and co.) I have marked it as for "children" but I am aware that all that Latin and literary quotations and etc will no longer appeal to many young people today, unless they're as odd and literary-minded as I was myself from about age eight--and at that time in that place, I was indeed an oddity! A small quibble I have with the edition itself; the editor/proofreader repeatedly confuses the use of the question mark with the exclamation point, turning several exclamations into questions that really shouldn't be (and aren't in other editions). This is so frequent in some paragraphs as to become annoying. I also object to modern editors mucking about with the language of classic authors. Although unafraid to include the racial epithet "nigger" more than once, for some reason the editors felt led to remove the word "bukh" from the text on page 282. I've read the old edition often enough to remember that Tertius uses the term "bukhing" to mean "telling a tale"; the editors in their wisdumb decided to cut the word entirely, though they had no problem with other Hindi words such as "Boh", "nullah", "rapparee" and many others. They may have felt unsure of its exact meaning, but if Kipling used the word, why did they take it upon themselves to remove it--particularly as other footnotes indicate lack of certainty when "explaining" other references?

  7. 4 out of 5

    Palmyrah

    Victorian schoolboys (at least, the ones in Victorian school stories) seem to have been tougher customers that their twentieth-century equivalents. The three heroes of this famous book, aged fifteen or sixteen when we first meet them, all smoke like chimneys, quaff substantial amounts of beer (some of which they brew illicitly on the school premises) and indulge in frequent, salutary violence, though always, of course, from the finest of motives. If they little resemble the clean-cut Victorian schoolboys (at least, the ones in Victorian school stories) seem to have been tougher customers that their twentieth-century equivalents. The three heroes of this famous book, aged fifteen or sixteen when we first meet them, all smoke like chimneys, quaff substantial amounts of beer (some of which they brew illicitly on the school premises) and indulge in frequent, salutary violence, though always, of course, from the finest of motives. If they little resemble the clean-cut young exemplars of later school fiction, it may be that they are a little truer to life. Stalky & Co. are seasoned rebels, adept at playing masters and other boys alike for fools, and getting things done in their own peculiarly ingenious, rule-bending way. Their school life appears to be a long and largely successful guerilla campaign against authority--something Kipling portrays as ideal training for the contingent, improvisatory lives they will soon come to lead on the unquiet frontiers of the British Empire. He drives the point home in the last chapter, in which we are shown the kind of man--the kind of hero--Stalky has become in young adulthood. Incidentally, the trio of Stalky, M'Turk and Beetle are all modelled on real people; Beetle is Kipling himself. The book is very much of a piece with the rest of the man's work--a celebration of paternalistic imperialism and the manly virtues as our Victorian predecessors understood them. If you like that sort of thing (even if, as am I, you are attracted to it in spite of liberal, multicultural views and a leaning towards pacificism), you'll love Stalky & Co.. If you don't like, don't read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    "Unluckily, all Mr. Prout's imagination leaned to the darker side of life, and he looked on those young-eyed cherubim most sourly. Boys that he understood attended house-matches and could be accounted for at any moment. But he had hear M'Turk openly deride cricket--even house-matches; Beetle's views on the honour of the house he knew we incendiary; and he could never tell when the soft and smiling Stalky was laughing at him. Consequently--since human nature is what it is--those boys had been doi "Unluckily, all Mr. Prout's imagination leaned to the darker side of life, and he looked on those young-eyed cherubim most sourly. Boys that he understood attended house-matches and could be accounted for at any moment. But he had hear M'Turk openly deride cricket--even house-matches; Beetle's views on the honour of the house he knew we incendiary; and he could never tell when the soft and smiling Stalky was laughing at him. Consequently--since human nature is what it is--those boys had been doing wrong somewhere. He hoped it was nothing very serious, but... "'Ti-ra-la-la-i-tu! I gloat! Hear me!' Stalky, still on his heels, whirled like a dancing dervish to the dining-hall." Adventure, exploration, and mischievous antics are the hallmarks of "Stalky and Co." The title character and his two friends cause no end of trouble for their peers and teachers, and though their hijinks sometimes strain the limits of credulity, they are nonetheless entertaining.

  9. 4 out of 5

    C Mic

    I have read this book so many times that it has become dog eared and stained and creased along all the best pages - the mark of a favourite. Even if the imperialism of the British Empire and the undisguised brutality of the Victorian school boy doesn't appeal, the sheer deliciousness of excerpts from Browning and Ruskin, the snippets of Latin and French and the frabjous forms of expression will be enough. The pleasure of being a clever cheeky school boy looking to practice I have read this book so many times that it has become dog eared and stained and creased along all the best pages - the mark of a favourite. Even if the imperialism of the British Empire and the undisguised brutality of the Victorian school boy doesn't appeal, the sheer deliciousness of excerpts from Browning and Ruskin, the snippets of Latin and French and the frabjous forms of expression will be enough. The pleasure of being a clever cheeky school boy looking to practice the art of warfare and subtle campaigns of rebellion will have you running down the halls with glee singing tir rir ra la I tu I gloat, hear me!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    What a wonderful book. Read initially as part of my quest to discover what got the nineteenth century reading, this will go straight to my must-read-again stack. Kipling writes like an angel and perfectly captures the glee of a clever teenager who outwits those he despises but is capable of recognising heroism in those he admires. It's one of those rare books which can make you cry with laughing then five minutes later cry for the pity of things. It is a series of loosely linked japes but the fi What a wonderful book. Read initially as part of my quest to discover what got the nineteenth century reading, this will go straight to my must-read-again stack. Kipling writes like an angel and perfectly captures the glee of a clever teenager who outwits those he despises but is capable of recognising heroism in those he admires. It's one of those rare books which can make you cry with laughing then five minutes later cry for the pity of things. It is a series of loosely linked japes but the final chapter brings deeper meaning to the frolics. An absolute must.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Reread because YT reminded me it existed. I loved it when I was eight (apparently it did not bother me that entire conversations were incomprehensible on account of French, Latin, 19th century slang or all three) and enjoyed actually understanding the French, Latin and historical references (well, being able to google them, anyway) this time around. Loses a star for colonialism and one bit of astounding narrative sexism, egregious even for the era, that makes me throw the book across the room ev Reread because YT reminded me it existed. I loved it when I was eight (apparently it did not bother me that entire conversations were incomprehensible on account of French, Latin, 19th century slang or all three) and enjoyed actually understanding the French, Latin and historical references (well, being able to google them, anyway) this time around. Loses a star for colonialism and one bit of astounding narrative sexism, egregious even for the era, that makes me throw the book across the room every time.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Hill

    One of the most influential books of my life, first read at age 14. Some folks might think it a lamentable influence, with the three protagonists creatively breaking every school rule. Its also about underdogs fighting back - underdogs who read Ruskin and Browing and the English Opium Eater. Every kid whos ever been considered a nerd can identify with it - and even learn a few positive things. One of the most influential books of my life, first read at age 14. Some folks might think it a lamentable influence, with the three protagonists creatively breaking every school rule. It´s also about underdogs fighting back - underdogs who read Ruskin and Browing and the English Opium Eater. Every kid who´s ever been considered a nerd can identify with it - and even learn a few positive things.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)

    Still my favourite edition of this book. I've read it countless times, and will again. Dear old Stalky, dear old M'Turk, and "the egregious Beetle." For anyone who dreamed of going to boarding school, or dreamed of going back to the 19th century, or both. For some reason, the last chapter is my favourite. It's something about the wording; I can see it all.

  14. 5 out of 5

    The Sheila

    That smart-mouthed bully who used to get away with cheating, lying, and throwing spitballs at your head during Chem. has most likely grown up to be the hero of the frickin' universe. But what are you complaining about, you giddy basket-hanger? Boys will be boys.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Prex Ybasco

    I buried my head in Rudyard Kipling’s novel Stalky & Co. It took me a long while to finish that thin book. At first I could not get the hang of the dialogues in it but the setting of the story helped me a lot as it is a school. The story revolves around this three…I repeat…three boys who excel in different fields but do not run out of naughtiness. Stalky is the leader who can worm his way out of any trouble because of his expertise in spoken language. He is quite witty. M’Turk is a placid gu I buried my head in Rudyard Kipling’s novel Stalky & Co. It took me a long while to finish that thin book. At first I could not get the hang of the dialogues in it but the setting of the story helped me a lot as it is a school. The story revolves around this three…I repeat…three boys who excel in different fields but do not run out of naughtiness. Stalky is the leader who can worm his way out of any trouble because of his expertise in spoken language. He is quite witty. M’Turk is a placid guy who storms up when triggered and he has a great aptitude in Latin. Beetle on the other hand is a poet who vents his emotions on paper or anything he can write his thoughts on. They, often reprimanded by the school masters and heads, are the pioneers of naughtiness and chaos in school. They don’t care much about rules and stuff. What they know is they have to go to school because their esteemed parents want them to in order for them to become good citizens of their country. As any other students, Stalky, M’Turk, and Beetle use the school as their playground instead. The book reminded me of how I studied seriously in high school and not so seriously in college. How I made fun of the teachers I did not like particularly those who would just go to school, give us things to do without teaching us anything. What is more is that the book finally solidified why three seems to be a good number for friends. I cannot imagine ‘Stalky and M’Turk’ tandem without missing Beetle, and it goes for any other tandem missing out a person. In the friendship of three, there may be a stronger bond between two friends, it won’t be the same as having all three together. What is more is there are times one finds himself extremely different from the other that there should be another person to smoothen the relationship.

  16. 4 out of 5

    J Grimsey

    A different world and unfashionable but really enjoyable

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I have met only one other family that has read this book. I read it sometime in my teens. My father and his sister had the book. I don't know that every one of my siblings read it, but I know Ruth did.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Boz4pm

    I loved this book as a child. I discovered it at about the age of 11 or so and I read and re-read it till my copy practically fell apart. I was still re-reading it at university. Three boys at a turn of the century boarding school that particularly schools the boys towards Sandhurst and the army. They are a law unto themselves and specialise in righting wrongs, usually in a particularly stylish manner and in such a way that they rarely get caught or wriggle out of it magnificently. The bully tea I loved this book as a child. I discovered it at about the age of 11 or so and I read and re-read it till my copy practically fell apart. I was still re-reading it at university. Three boys at a turn of the century boarding school that particularly schools the boys towards Sandhurst and the army. They are a law unto themselves and specialise in righting wrongs, usually in a particularly stylish manner and in such a way that they rarely get caught or wriggle out of it magnificently. The bully teacher? The house that declares their's stinkers? Watch them fall one by one into jibbering heaps while Stalky and Co shrug and grin and go about their business. I love this book. It's of its time, yes - the last chapter particularly which is the others as grown men telling tales of Stalky's doings in the army (not sure which war now - possibly the Boer). The three characters (though not the escapades) were said to be loosely based on Kipling himself and two school friends. It's out of copyright now too, so you can find umpteen copies of it online to read easily by Googling it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Buck

    I thought Stalky was going to die, but he wandered into Flashman novel instead. This was something of an anti-climax to what was a challenging read; so close to my own experiences in a West Country minor boarding school - especially the language despite a hundred years between Beetle and me - and yet so alien. The cynicism of Stalky & Co was what surprised me most. House spirit was sacred to us: a boy played a house match with a fractured vertebrae that kept him off the pitch for the first f I thought Stalky was going to die, but he wandered into Flashman novel instead. This was something of an anti-climax to what was a challenging read; so close to my own experiences in a West Country minor boarding school - especially the language despite a hundred years between Beetle and me - and yet so alien. The cynicism of Stalky & Co was what surprised me most. House spirit was sacred to us: a boy played a house match with a fractured vertebrae that kept him off the pitch for the first fifteen. And set against that cynicism the eerie sanctity of 'The flag of their country.' This chapter gives us a surprising insight into what young men raised in military families in a time of permanent active service might actually feel about the symbols under which they are expected to serve: jingoism it is not. Obviously as an outsider, Beetle had a tendency to romanticise, but it gives another dimension to his loss of his own son in active service, who, unlike Stalky, did die.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    I deserve a campaign medal for ploughing through this dated boys' book...it was beyond the call of duty! It's fair to say that literary style has moved-on in leaps-and-bounds since Kipling wrote this, with its mute assumption that readers had a wide grasp of classical languages & lore & biblical knowledge, to go with their now-archaic sense of proprieties & implicit sense of social class & imperial pretensions. I liked some of the passages,where Kipling was writing from the heart I deserve a campaign medal for ploughing through this dated boys' book...it was beyond the call of duty! It's fair to say that literary style has moved-on in leaps-and-bounds since Kipling wrote this, with its mute assumption that readers had a wide grasp of classical languages & lore & biblical knowledge, to go with their now-archaic sense of proprieties & implicit sense of social class & imperial pretensions. I liked some of the passages,where Kipling was writing from the heart,perhaps remembering old friends & mentors,& indeed his own younger self; in these passages,Stalky & his chums begin to live a little beyond the naughty but worldly-wise schoolboys, & the reader begins to see that in the shadow of these callow youths walk the heroic men (soldiers & colonial administrators...journalists & writers?) that would blossom all over the Empire. Was it worth the effort? I'm afraid to say,no...but without an exclamation mark.It was just past its sell-by-date!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    Another of my favorite Kipling books, Stalky & Co takes the then-popular "school days" genre and sets it on its sanctimonious head. Stalky, the "ringleader", along with his friends Beetle and M'Turk, have much more in common with modern schoolboy heroes than their contemporary literary counterparts. Their penchant for mischief continually gets them in trouble, but they always manage to wriggle out of it somehow, bringing each of the stories to a satisfying conclusion. My lack of fam Another of my favorite Kipling books, Stalky & Co takes the then-popular "school days" genre and sets it on its sanctimonious head. Stalky, the "ringleader", along with his friends Beetle and M'Turk, have much more in common with modern schoolboy heroes than their contemporary literary counterparts. Their penchant for mischief continually gets them in trouble, but they always manage to wriggle out of it somehow, bringing each of the stories to a satisfying conclusion. My lack of familiarity with 1800's English boarding school behaviors and jargon was a hinderance, and I'm sure I missed half the jokes, but the Reader's Guide at http://www.kipling.org.uk was immensely helpful in getting through some of the less familiar bits. I recommend that resource to anyone setting out to read Kipling for the first time.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gill Moran

    A friend asked me if I'd read this and I hadn't... so pleased I did. It took a little getting into; the language is, of course, a little dated and some of the attitudes, too, are not what we would expect these days. But that aside, once I adapted, it was a wonderful read, by turns funny and clever and just a little bit sad. The final chapter was delightful. I understand that the version I have - not the one pictured - is not the complete and unabridged - mine does not have A friend asked me if I'd read this and I hadn't... so pleased I did. It took a little getting into; the language is, of course, a little dated and some of the attitudes, too, are not what we would expect these days. But that aside, once I adapted, it was a wonderful read, by turns funny and clever and just a little bit sad. The final chapter was delightful. I understand that the version I have - not the one pictured - is not the complete and unabridged - mine does not have the cattle-rustling episode... then to discover there was a real 'Stalky' and to be able to answer the questions I was left with at the end of the book - how long did he live? did he die young? was most satisfactory.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Delia Turner

    One of my absolute favorite books when I was a child, though I understood perhaps a half of the language and little of the context. Stalky, McTurk, and Beetle conspire against their masters, cheat, bully their superiors, and exact revenge against the sanctimonious with a ferocious joy that makes them eternally appealing. Never mind that Kipling's worldview is irredeemably skewed. As I was rereading it now, decades later, I understand better how my own naive perceptions of the world were formed, One of my absolute favorite books when I was a child, though I understood perhaps a half of the language and little of the context. Stalky, McTurk, and Beetle conspire against their masters, cheat, bully their superiors, and exact revenge against the sanctimonious with a ferocious joy that makes them eternally appealing. Never mind that Kipling's worldview is irredeemably skewed. As I was rereading it now, decades later, I understand better how my own naive perceptions of the world were formed, It is the quintessential English public-school novel. And yet I still enjoy the book. "The bleatin' of the kid excites the tiger."

  24. 5 out of 5

    A.J.

    The casual brutality of the late nineteenth century really comes through in this novel. But since the young people of the school in the book were all being trained up to be cannon-fodder, perhaps that was an appropriate way of rearing boys. Women don't feature in the story at all, except as a means of humiliating one of the characters and to be put in their place by Kipling as only having one role in life. But having said all that the story is entertaining, as Stalky and his friends u The casual brutality of the late nineteenth century really comes through in this novel. But since the young people of the school in the book were all being trained up to be cannon-fodder, perhaps that was an appropriate way of rearing boys. Women don't feature in the story at all, except as a means of humiliating one of the characters and to be put in their place by Kipling as only having one role in life. But having said all that the story is entertaining, as Stalky and his friends use their brains to subvert the rules and frustrate their teachers, all in preparation for doing the same once they were in the army.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matt Brant

    Adults probably read this today because JK Rowling revived the school story with her Harry Potter books. Heaven knows, in our kinder gentler age, the punishment doled out to the bullies in The Moral Reformers will be seen as gratuitously cruel and violent. Still, Kipling gets his point across: the brutality of school life had its limits and was a necessary part of training for a career in Imperial Management, in which kid gloves would be laughably inappropriate. Kipling did not gloss over report Adults probably read this today because JK Rowling revived the school story with her Harry Potter books. Heaven knows, in our kinder gentler age, the punishment doled out to the bullies in The Moral Reformers will be seen as gratuitously cruel and violent. Still, Kipling gets his point across: the brutality of school life had its limits and was a necessary part of training for a career in Imperial Management, in which kid gloves would be laughably inappropriate. Kipling did not gloss over reporting that numbers of Old Boys of the school were indeed killed while serving. Nor does he have patience with jingos. A vulgarian, I liked these knock-about, well-written stories.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Frumenty

    Having recently read a biography of Winston Churchill, I was struck by the similarities in the two men's (WSC & RK) educational experiences. WSC did get to Sandhurst, and maintained an anachronistic belief in the values of Empire most of his life. I think during WW2 it was an important part of his strength. A fascinating window on a lost era, when Empire was "a good thing" and fagging was character-building, toughening one up and engendering respect for hierarchy. Kipling has a contempt for Having recently read a biography of Winston Churchill, I was struck by the similarities in the two men's (WSC & RK) educational experiences. WSC did get to Sandhurst, and maintained an anachronistic belief in the values of Empire most of his life. I think during WW2 it was an important part of his strength. A fascinating window on a lost era, when Empire was "a good thing" and fagging was character-building, toughening one up and engendering respect for hierarchy. Kipling has a contempt for cant that keeps these stories fresh even today.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rue Baldry

    This book is largely written in obsolete schoolboy slang, so it's not an easy read. I love it, though, it's an amazing insight into boys' boarding school life in the late nineteenth century. It's an open window into a disappeared world. It's a brutal world, but one with justice and friendship in it, where respect has to be earned. The moral code is quite unlike ours. Also it is very funny and sometimes moving, too.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Terry Irving

    For good or ill, if you want to understand the British Empire at the peak of it's power--and the men who made it work--read Stalky & Co. From the random (and slightly homoerotic) hazing to the rebellious and inventive rebellions to the intelligence and classical education - it's life at a British public school as no one has ever described it before or since.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Didier_warzee

    Not a native engmish speaker I found it sometimes hard to understand the vocabulary used by these young characters. However I enjoyed this reading a lot, feeling as if I were living the adventures with stalky and his companions.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Frances

    my notebook informs me that I read this in 1986 - for at least the second time - the BBC TV adaptation may have had something to do with it. I know I thouroughly enjoyed it, and this particular edition is still on my shelf almost 30 years later, along with a copy of the Complete Stalky

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