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Stalky & Co. is a book, published in 1899 (following serialization in the Windsor Magazine) by Rudyard Kipling, about adolescent boys at a British boarding school. It is a collection of linked short stories in format, with some information about the charismatic Stalky character in later life. The character Beetle, one of the main trio, is partly based on Kipling himself. Stalky is based on Lionel Dunsterville, M'Turk is based on George Charles Beresford, and Mr. King is based on William Carr Crofts. The school, which is referred to as the College or the Coll., is based on the United Services College in Devon, which Kipling attended.
The stories have elements of revenge, the macabre (dead cats), bullying, and violence and hints about sex, making them far from childish or idealized, unlike the typical school story. The critic Edmund Wilson, in The Wound and the Bow, was both shocked and uncomprehending about them. For example, Beetle pokes fun at an earlier, more earnest, boys' book, Eric, or Little by Little, thus flaunting his more worldly outlook.
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First proper reading of Kipling's best book
Wonderdully narrated by someone who understands it. Kipling's dialogue (and dialect) was never better than this. S&C tells you more about how the British "conquered a quarter of the globe in a fit of absent- mindedness" than a shelf of history books. Ignore the misbegotten other reading by an outfit that inexplicably chose a female American reader for this quintessentially male and British book.
The only downside is that it's not the Complete version.
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Such a different world - could be fantasy
A century plus ago, on an island off a far-away continent, there was a school. And Stalky was its bane. I imagine that in its day, the unconventional story was just as jolting as it is to us, who no longer believe in good-boy school stories, but maybe for different reasons. Heads up to listeners; the serialized nature of its publication explains why so many chapters seem like self-contained stories. Stalky is definitely not Harry P. He is more like Tom Brown's nemesis at Rugby, Flashman. Both Stalky and Flashman are credited with later-life heroics in foreign conflicts due to their abrasive personalities.