In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Book Reviews example, we're told at one point that much of Kipling's children's literature contains, in Seymour-Smith's words, "a touch of cheap dogmatism, a sly settling of some score against life that is beyond the innocence of his rapt audience." It would be hard to imagine this insight being more accurately or more succinctly put. Yet when it comes to the issue of Kipling's sexuality, the biographer seems to lose his ironic, self-critical vision and to imagine that he has made a strong case for his radical proposition when in fact he has made almost no credible case at all. As if at some deep level aware of this, Seymour-Smith several times warns his readers that his premise is likely to be dismissed by other Kipling scholars for ideological reasons, or perhaps just out of embarrassment. But Seymour-Smith is the scholar chiefly responsible for his book's failure to convince us of its provocative but finally unproven thesis. Elliot L. Gilbert University of California, Davis Kipling and India Mark Paffard. Kipling's Indian Fiction. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989. xiii + 150 pp. $39.95 THE QUANDARY at the heart of this book reflects late twentiethcentury uncertainty about European imperialism generally and the British Empire specifically. Between the extreme positions (Blimpish nostalgia for glory and power versus Enlightened loathing for bourgeois "Eurocentrism"), a space remains for sensitive readers such as Paffard who respond to Kipling's artistic brilliance yet dislike his values. Paffard divides his book into five chapters. The first is a survey of "the British view of India," and the remaining four are disconnected essays on "early stages," Kipling's portrayals of soldiers and natives, and his position in the literary establishment of the 90s. One wishes that Paffard had developed his important observation about where Kipling published (usually in popular not "litry" magazines) because Kipling played the market and was influenced by it. Paffard defines his position in terms of a growing debate which pits recent sympathetic studies of Kipling against the negative judgment of Henry James, Vernon Lee, Q. D. Leavis, C. S. Lewis and Boris Ford: "It is against this formidable background that a case must be put for the abiding interest of his [Kipling's] work." 457 ELT: Volume 33:4 1990 One may suspect that this "formidable background" is not very formidable. After an initial enthusiasm, James's literary temperament virtually precluded sympathy for Kipling, but we should remember the moving letter that Kipling wrote James when the latter became a British citizen. Their literary quibbles shrank to insignificance when national survival was at stake. Vernon Lee (Violet Paget) wrote an influential analysis of Kipling's prose style in 1910. No one seems to have noticed that her transcribed text from Kim contains no less than seventeen errors in punctuation, syntax, paragraphing and diction. Moreover, she misunderstood Kipling's unusual grammar, especially his verbs that seem to convey "aspect" which is foreign to English. According to John Bayley, C. S. Lewis "hated" Kipling, yet he wrote an important tribute. Good Christian that he was, Lewis hated reluctantly, so that if Bayley"s account is true, Lewis must have disapproved of Kipling's seductive but unchristian world view. As for Boris Ford, he is (in American terms) a "progressive educationist" who despised T. S. Eliot for not despising despicable Kipling. The "case" that Paffard makes for "the abiding interest of Kipling's work" turns out to be negative. His thesis seems to be that Kipling's originality is overrated. He "may appear less a commanding figure" than either his friends or enemies make him out to be because the British public held Kipling's attitudes toward art and empire before he began writing. He simply reinforced and popularized ideas already at hand. To prove this thesis, Paffard might have followed several leads. Beginning with Robert Sencourt (R. E. G. George), India in English (1923), there are perhaps a dozen studies of British imperialism as reflected in literature: Allen J. Greenberger, The British Image of India: A Study of the Literature of Imperialism, 1880-1960 (1969); Benita Parry, Delusions and Discoveries: Studies on India in...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 457-460
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.