Randall Jarrell
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On preparing to read Kipling (1961)
in In Time’s eye
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Rudyard Kipling did have the 'coarseness and jerkiness' and mannered vanity of human youth. Kipling did begin as a reporter and print in newspapers the Plain Tales from the Hills. But then for half a century he kept writing. To read Kipling, for once, as something else that even crudely effective, popular writers can become, would be to exhibit a magnanimity that might do justice both to Kipling's potentialities and to our own. The reader of Kipling, a specific reader, hates to give all the credit to the Professional or to the Daemon. One thinks sadly of how deeply congenial to the torturing obsessive knowledge of Kipling was the First World War. The death and anguish of Europe produced some of his best and most terrible stories. Kipling was no Citizen of the World, but like the Wandering Jew he had lived in many places and known many peoples.

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In Time’s eye

Essays on Rudyard Kipling



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