TIGERS! 04/08/2017 – Posted in: Books

 

 

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As a cultural outpost for the anti-establishment of West London, Worlds End Books tries to make its political positions known regularly, and emphatically. Today, we are finally revealing our stance on the monarchy.
*puts on manifesto beret*
FOR TOO LONG the lion has been the King of the Jungle, stretching its skinny dominance across the collective imagination of Disney kids for decades. Generally their portrayal is of regal grace and strength; they have become an aspirational emblem for numerous sports teams, car companies, banks and film studios.

One day we all shall meet our true Lord and saviour.

One day we all shall meet our true Lord and saviour.

In literature and film the lion has frequently been characterised as a God-like figure; think Aslan’s thinly-veiled turn as the Christ of Narnia, and the visual eulogy afforded Mufasa in The Lion King.

Conversely, the tiger has suffered from the success of its cousin. Rudyard Kilping’s Shere Khan is a half-baked villain, at once dishonest for his quite natural desire to eat Mowgli, and burdened with a crippling fear of fire. A.A. Milne’s Tigger is an Adderall-fuelled nightmare, Judith Kerr’s the Tiger who came for Tea is an imposing malingerer, and Yann Martell’s Richard Parker is a cantankerous and lonely behemoth.

All across the internet the vote is unanimous: a tiger would beat a lion in a fight. Indeed, records of Roman-era fights between the two beasts indicate a preference for the Tiger in the betting odds. Despite being a similar size, if not smaller, the tiger is generally heavier due to a high concentration of muscle mass. And just look at those stripes. Only two things have never gone out of fashion: manners and tiger stripes.

Who knew we felt so strongly about the Panthera Tigris? It is certainly unusual that, upon writing this post, we have mysteriously obtained an unusual quantity of tiger-themed literature, as if through some divine and jungly providence. These include natural history and travel accounts, as well as fiction from the perspective of both heroic hunter and vicious ‘man-eater’. The tales share a vivid storytelling style that recalls the suspense of oral tradition and elevates the tigers to almost mythological statuses.

"Oh. Of course."

“Oh. Of course. Lizards.”

John Budden’s Jungle John is, in fact, the name of the narrator’s son, a squeamish boy of eleven with a discerning taste for handkerchiefs and an unexpected gift for ‘smoting’ tigers. The book is wonderfully illustrated by a Major General of the Gurka Rifles (H.J.P. Browne), alongside the author’s wife (uncredited) with fantastical interpretations of seemingly impossible captions, such as “KICKING HIMSELF AGAIN AND AGAIN INTO MIDAIR’ and “THE LIZARDS PULLED THE SOLDIERS UP THE CLIFF’. Obviously hardened to accusations of falsehood, author John Budden begins his story with an airtight disclaimer: ‘The whole book, except the weaving of the story, is founded on fact.’

The ominously-titled Mauled by a Tiger by Arthur W. Strachan is a ripping true story of the pursuit of a “man-eater” that has butchered twenty-two natives. A gruesome crescendo – in which the author is de-limbed to the tune of two – is followed by the heartening assurance that he will return to India to shoot the ‘splendid brutes’, this time armed with a video-camera.

Youth and Young Cubhood

Youth and Young Cubhood

Nailed-on recipient for the Best-Named 1st-Person Tiger-Narrator award, A.F. Mockler-Ferryman, has created a fascinatingly personal account of a tiger’s life, including cub-hood memories, hunting scenes, forest fires and a brief courtship that leads to feline marriage. Few visionaries would have the scope of mind to begin a new novel with the sentence: “I expect that I began life in much the same way as most other tiger cubs…” Certainly even fewer visionaries would have delved into the various daddy-issues that face a tiger during his coming-of-age monologue: “I may have had a father, but, to the best of my belief, I never saw him.” Alas, it seems our protagonist is not cut out for fatherhood: “I felt that the presence of cubs would not add to the pleasures of life.”

Other titles of equally exciting tiger-lit include SHER: Lord of the Jungle, by Eugenie Fenton, The Face of the Tiger by Charles Mcdougal, In the Grip of the Jungle by George Hogan Knowles, and The Deer and the Tiger by George B. Shaller. We encourage you to visit for the complete experience, with snarling and clawing and at least two booksellers clad head to toe in 1970s pimp faux fur.

Max Hart-Walsh

Further Titles: ‘Mauled by a Tiger’, by Arthur W. Strachan and ‘SHER: Lord of the Jungle’ by Eugenie Fenton.