A very skilled author would be able to set a story in practically any environment, but when it comes to setting a plot in a natural environment, some locations are literally more fertile for storytelling than others. A compelling story set solely in a desert for example could prove to be relatively taxing on the authors imagination, but a jungle on the other hand, now there’s some substance to work with!
See where the jungle took Daniel's imagination in the DM Jungle Collection.
One of most the famous stories to be set in a jungle is Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’, (1894): a collection of mini stories written as fables where anthropomorphic animals (humanlike) are used to play out moral lessons. This is a great example of an author making the most of what animals an Indian jungle has to offer, with panthers, bears, snakes, bats, elephants - and a certain fearsome tiger - all featuring in these enchanting tales alongside the central character, Mowgli, a “man-cub” raised by wolves.
At the same time as The Jungle Book was being published, a certain gentleman in France was getting noticed for his work on jungles too, but with the use of a paintbrush rather than a Victorian typewriter. The artist was Henri Rousseau, and he is most famous for the painting ‘Tiger in a Tropical Storm’ (pictured above). Unlike Kipling, who was born in Bombay, Rousseau never even set a foot outside France - let alone trekked in jungle - and instead took his inspiration form botanical gardens and zoos; so his exotic depictions are often noted for their charm rather than their naturalistic accuracy.
Heading west from India, the next jungle to be found is in the continent of Africa. Here is the setting for many a piece of jungle fiction, from the famous tree swinging ‘Tarzan’, to Joseph Conrad’s ‘The Heart of Darkness’, (1899): a novel set in the Congo, so titled because of the unexplored blank spaces on the world map at the time, and aptly so because of the plot involving the ivory trade.
Continuing along the line of the equator over the Pacific Ocean we reach the largest of jungles, the jungles of South America, and it is here where we also find the setting of one of the largest jungle paintings the art world has to offer: a 5ft by 10ft masterpiece titled ‘The Heart of the Andes’, (1858), by the American artist Frederic Edwin Church.
Join us on the next post where we will leave the books and paintings behind and continue this jungle expedition on foot, delving deeper in to the unknown… in search of the beasts of the jungle!
(Note to self: bring insect repellent)
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