How The Camel Got His Hump by Rudyard Kipling, 1898
The magic trick:
Uniting language, plot, and character in one word
You ever read so-called classics and come away wondering how these so-called classics maintain their so-called classic reputations?
That was me with these Just So Stories.
They’re annoying. They annoy me. That’s the best word for it. Reading these, I am annoyed.
Anyway, let’s break down the magic tricks.
In, “How The Camel Got His Hump,” we get a story built on a bit of pun-based onomatopoeia. This camel is lazy. He says “humph” when anyone tries to make him work. So almost immediately we have plot, character, and language unified in one direction. I might find it annoying, but it is a remarkable way of appealing to a kid.
And that’s quite a trick on Kipling’s part.
NOW this is the next tale, and it tells how the Camel got his big hump.
In the beginning of years, when the world was so new and all, and the Animals were just beginning to work for Man, there was a Camel, and he lived in the middle of a Howling Desert because he did not want to work; and besides, he was a Howler himself. So he ate sticks and thorns and tamarisks and milkweed and prickles, most ‘scruciating idle; and when anybody spoke to him he said ‘Humph!’ Just ‘Humph!’ and no more.
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