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ELT 48 : 2 2005 margins is repeatedly disturbed by his sympathy for the center, The Colonial Conan Doyle not only helps us to rethink one writer's relation to empire, but it should also encourage us to reconsider with more nuance literature's relation to empire. Those relations are too often stymied by oversimplifications; Catherine Wynne's work should help us to see that such dealings are never so elementary as they may first appear. Chbistopheb Meteess Samford University Kipling Biography Philip Mallett. Rudyard Kipling: A Literary Life. New York: Palgrave, 2003. χ + 221 pp. $49.95 MALLETT EDITED a valuable collection of essays on Kipling (Kipling Reconsidered, 1989), and he now adds a full-scale biography of Kipling to the four already published since 1999 (Andrew Lycett, 1999; Harry Ricketts, 1999; David Gilmour, 2002; Andrew Hagiioannu, 2003). Both he and Hagiioannu cover similar ground to provide context for Kipling's fiction; but Hagiioannu, guided by cultural historians such as Bhabha, Fanon, Hobsbaum and Said, concludes that Kipling is a dangerously mistaken author, a vendor of authoritarian values. Mallett's book belongs to the Palgrave series called Literary Lives which, like the American Twayne series but far more detailed, targets a classroom audience . As a result, his approach is less committed to political preconceptions . Praise and censure are balanced. The subtitle suggests a close tie between public life and writing, and Mallett is commendably attentive to dates, places and persons that shape Kipling's story, verses and journalism . In addition, he includes illuminating asides on the publishing business at the time of mass literacy, patterns of reading (especially popular but now forgotten authors), and the literary exploitation of demotic speech. Like Gilmour's The Long Recessional that the reviewer Tom Paulin in TLS praised as "an important act of cultural reclamation," Mallett grants Kipling a central place in the English canon. He repeats Craig Raine's tribute to "our greatest writer of the short story." Faced with the profound disconnection between twentieth-century progressive intellectuals who either shun or dismiss conservative writers , Mallett is wary of enthusiastic assessments made on Kipling's behalf . For example, Roger Lancelyn Green noted that "whatever existing literary form Kipling took for his use—animal story, the school story, the historical adventure story—he transformed and revivified until he 252 BOOK REVIEWS seemed each time almost to have created a new art form. (Kipling and the Children, 1965). If true, this is crucial evidence for Kipling's originality , but Mallett ignores it. Then there is Randall Jarrell's surprising insight that "Kipling is far closer to Gogol than to a normal realist or naturalist. In Kipling the pressure of the imagination has forced facts over into the supernatural, into personally satisfying jokes or revenges, into personally compulsive fantasies and neuroses."(Kipling, Auden & Co., 1980). Mallett quotes only one phrase from this passage but ignores the implication that Kipling's magical prose breaks the bounds of empiricist or materialist realism and provides a sense of the numinous that cannot be dismissed as bogus word-play, a "conjuring trick" ( John Bayley notwithstanding). Mallett concludes that Kipling, while being silly, even repellant, at times, is on the whole a talented craftsman. One wishes for something riskier. Readers who enjoy Kipling without being guilt stricken by his allegedly uncivilized or pre-scientific attitude towards race, class, or gender may find Mallett's evaluation somewhat conventional. After all, Kipling knew the risks he took by writing. In a speech called "Literature" (1906), he claimed to be a "masterless man" whose mission, like that of bards throughout history, was to make words that "become alive and walked up and down in the hearts of all his hearers ." He succeeded for many readers who want to know how and why. He also knew that some "hearers" would fear his words were untrue and kill him. D. H. STEWABT Bozeman, Montana 253 ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 252-253
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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