Kipling, ‘beastliness’ and Soldatenliebe
in In Time’s eye
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Rudyard Kipling's loyalty to the older model included his use of language; he preferred the word 'beastliness' to 'homosexuality'. Early proponents of society's acceptance of same-sex passion alighted upon his depictions of soldiers, misrecognising it as a homophile political strategy. John Addington Symonds proposes the term 'hoplitomania' for what 'in Germany is known as Soldatenliebe' in terms of the attractiveness of the uniform 'which emphasises their bodily shape' and their masculinity, where 'they exude a powerful male effluvium'. The 'filth' of the capital of Empire was linked to its moral state, from which the upstanding man needs to protect his womenfolk. The early years of Kipling's career in London came as the new homosexual identity was crystallising. As Harry Ricketts has noted, Symonds alighted on Kipling as part of his search for art and artists who shared his sexuality and views.

In Time’s eye

Essays on Rudyard Kipling

Editor: Jan Montefiore

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