Rudyard Kipling (1942)
in In Time’s eye
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Rudyard Kipling belongs definitely to the period 1885-1902. The Great War and its aftermath embittered him, but he shows little sign of having learned anything from any event later than the Boer War. A humanitarian is always a hypocrite, and Kipling's understanding of this is the central secret of his power to create telling phrases. Kipling is a jingo imperialist; he is morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting. Mr Eliot describes Kipling's metrical work as 'verse' and not 'poetry', but adds that it is 'great verse'. The 'Fascist' charge has to be answered, because the first clue to any understanding of Kipling, morally or politically, is that fact that he was not a Fascist. Kipling's outlook is pre-Fascist. He was the prophet of British imperialism in its expansionist phase and also the unofficial historian of the British army, the old mercenary army which began to change its shape in 1914.

In Time’s eye

Essays on Rudyard Kipling

Editor: Jan Montefiore

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