Refreshing; a transport back to a time and place when hard work is required, children mature quickly, reversals of fortune are dramatic, and where the least of us has an important role to play in the overall scheme of things. Life aboard a commercial fishing vessel in the nineteenth century was brutal: requiring hard, hard work, sleeplessness, constant physical danger, unforgiving conditions, and where the workplace is populated by sturdy, ruthless people. Big business interests, similarly. A story of survival at the school of hard knocks.
I'm sure Kipling and his fans wish he'd never written that stupid "White Man's Burden" poem as, 100 years later, it tends to color his work and make him seem like the poet of imperialism. He only wrote three novels: the autobiographical "The Light that Failed," the India-set "Kim," and "Captains Courageous," one of his most popular works and the basis for the Spencer Tracy film. His only book set in America (where he lived for a time), it's both a sea adventure and a bildungsroman about a spoiled rich kid who learns a few lessons. It's fun, but it's very much a boy's adventure and is inferior to his contemporary Stevenson. Was quite possibly an influence on the adventure stories of London and Hemingway.
Harvey Cheyne, the spoiled son of a wealthy railroad magnate, is washed overboard from a transatlantic steamship and rescued by fishermen. This classic coming-of-age tale is not one of Kipling's best works.
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