Life, Love, and Art
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: ELT Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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Preface & Acknowledgments
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AS AN INTRODUCTION to the last of his stories—“‘Teem’—A Treasure-Hunter”—published in January 1936, the same month and year as of his death, Kipling wrote a poem about a wise and noble dog that he refers to as “a gentleman of France,” the “Vicomte Bouvier de Brie.” The poem concludes with an address to his readers: “And, if you ...
CHAPTER 1 Capering Among the Dumb Gods of Egypt:“‘The Finest Story in the World’”
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Ostensibly “‘The Finest Story in the World’” is a serious fictional account of reincarnation with misogynic overtones. Actually it is a detailed portrait of a man who does not understand him-self.1 The situation is one in which a narrator characterizes himself far more than he realizes and in a way far different from what he apparently intends, for his alternating exhilaration and frustration often come across as somewhat more comedic than intense. What response other ...
CHAPTER 2 Eavesdropping on Eternity: “‘Wireless’”
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Of all Kipling’s short stories, “‘Wireless’” may well be the most devious. Many years ago the distinguished scholar J. M. S. Tompkins pointed out that Kipling had a tendency to lay false trails in his works.1 That shrewd observation, a much needed warning to critics, has not, however, prevented commentators from occasionally launching forth on a long trail that Kipling deviously has prepared that leads away from, not to, the promised land of accurate and enlightened ...
CHAPTER 3 An Unforgettable Man: “Mrs. Bathurst”
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If “‘Wireless’” is, as I suggested in the previous chapter, possibly the most devious of Kipling’s stories, “Mrs. Bathurst” has acquired the reputation of being the most baffling.1 Among Kipling scholars the disagreement as to how to read “Mrs. Bathurst” has been unusually sharp. Indeed, surveying the vast body of commentary on the story that has appeared over the many years since its publication engenders an eye-opening education in the vagaries of literary interpretation. There ...
CHAPTER 4 Cyrano of the Camargue:“The Bull That Thought”
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During a motoring tour of southern France in the spring of 1914, Rudyard Kipling met and had lunch with a wealthy French winemaker named Viollet. More than likely that meeting figured in the writing of “The Bull That Thought,” for a person at least superficially like Monsieur Viollet—a rich wine merchant—appears in the work as the central character, André Voiron. Kipling composed the story in May 1924, soon after another automobile tour of France that ...
CHAPTER 5 Sick Love: “The Wish House”
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This story has long been regarded as among Rudyard Kipling’s most extraordinary accomplishments. J. M. S. Tompkins has called “The Wish House” “a marvel,”1 and Angus Wilson has gone so far as to refer to it as “probably Kipling’s most successful single story.”2 Martin Seymour-Smith admiringly claims that “The Wish House” is not only one of Kipling’s “most remarkable” stories but also that “there is no doubt that it is one of the most remarkable stories ever ...
CHAPTER 6 The Monastery of a Dream:“The Eye of Allah”
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Because Kipling evidently researched the subject of monasteries in the middle ages for his story “The Eye of Allah” (1926) so that he could get his details right (as usual appear to be an authority) and used various books that have been identified or suggested in commentaries,1 the story has often been thought of as being “realistic,” that is, as being faithful to facts in terms of what life in a thirteenth-century English monastery was like.2 Biographers and ...
CHAPTER 7 Proper Work and “Dayspring Mishandled”
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Whatever reasons Rudyard Kipling may have had for choosing the profession of letters—a choice he made consciously and forcefully at an early age—one thing is clear: he was never in the business of writing fiction and poetry for money or for fame although he made much of the one and achieved a great deal of the other. In “Values in Life,” a speech delivered in October 1907 at McGill University in Montreal, he stressed to the students there the ...
CHAPTER 8 The Trouble with Discipleship:“The Manner of Men” and“The Church That Was at Antioch”
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From an early age, Kipling went to great lengths to avoid falling under the sway of any other person. He was driven, absolutely driven, by a desire for originality, which was not merely a practical artistic goal but was actually a deeply ingrained instinct in him. He simply had to be original. It is certainly true that he learned from and sometimes was stimulated by others—he gives credit for that in Something of Myself1—but unlike some writers, Kipling in his adult ...
CHAPTER 9 Endearing Incongruity: Thy Servant a Dogand “‘Teem’—a Treasure-Hunter”
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The voice that narrates most of Kipling’s stories in which dogs play an important role—“Private Learoyd’s Story” (1888), “Quiquern” (1895), “Garn—a Hostage” (1899), “The Dog Hervey” (1914), “The Woman in His Life” (1928), and “A Sea Dog” (1934)—is that of a human being. With the exception of “A Sea Dog,” the dog stories of his late period (the 1930s) are narrated not by a person but by a dog. In 1930 he published a slim volume, Thy Servant ...
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Page Count: 250
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: 1880-1920 British Authors Series