“It was not only the ripping-yarn action of the stories and the engrossing narratives that held me, I was just as much taken by the man who recounted them.”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

There is nothing new to be said about Man-eaters of Kumaon and Jim Corbett. The fact that the book has never been out of print in 70 years speaks for itself. Corbett wrote it later in life after he had left India for African shores and he relied entirely on his memories to put the tales together since he was no believer in diaries. What sprang to life was the immediacy of his style and the vivid descriptions. And since he was talking about hunting, big cats and human conflict the book did not date.

Corbett was a mysterious man who believed in stalking man-eaters by himself. He would also shoot a snake before every hunt as a superstitious ritual for luck. Stephen Alter’s introduction talks about his introduction to the first draft of Man-eaters of Kumaon, then released as Jungle Stories which Corbett printed privately for his friends. Later the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow suggested that Oxford Univery Press publish the book.

Alter’s introduction adds an interesting personal touch and also refers to his theory that Corbett was a kind of Sherlock Holmes where tracking man-eaters was concerned, something Alter took up in the stories he wrote on Corbett. Add to that a rather funny anecdote of the Viceroy and an elephant’s toilet and a new generation of readers is likely to look at Corbett in a totally new light.

 

Reviewed by:

Anjana Basu

Added 29th January 201

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Anjana Basu

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