This book is a collection of essays on Rudyard Kipling and brings historical, literary critical and postcolonial approaches to this perennially controversial writer. The first and fairest thing to say about Kipling is that he has borne a brilliant part in recovering the lost provinces of poetry. Kipling's morality is the morality of someone who has to prove that God is not responsible for part of the world, and that the Devil is. Kipling's imperialist opinions became more strident after the Boer War he lost the esteem of British literary intellectuals, whom he in turn despised. The book addresses Kipling's approach to the Boer war, his involvement with World War One, his Englishness and the politics of literary quotation. It demonstrates the effects of a Kipling-conditioned world on Edward Thomas, Ivor Gurney and David Jones. The book focuses on Kipling's collection of stories and accompanying poems, Actions and Reactions, which was published in October 1909. It also probes the historical subtext of the children's fable Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and Indian history, Kipling's search for God, and his longest Indian experience of footloose travel in the Native states of North India. Stalky & Co is the text of Kipling's which features the largest number of quotations. Kipling's notion of the ideally masculine 'army man' in relation to contemporary late Victorian discourses and practices of same-sex passion is analyzed. The book also addresses Kipling's views on the question of fascism, anti-Semitism and the 'doctrine of racial superiority'.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book shows how Rudyard Kipling struck as an anti-imperialist Christian contemporary. It also shows how literary readings of Kipling have become increasingly politicized. The book focuses on appreciating the qualities of Kipling's prose, while viewing his psychology as a man who 'never got over' the experiences of his childhood and youth. It discusses Kipling's romanticised view of South Africa, his political affiliations and his relationships with political leaders. The book also discusses his hero-worship of Cecil John Rhodes, his hatred of the Boers and his indifference to black Africans. It provides the anxieties about the future of the British Empire in which the Boers' resistance had raised. The book also focuses principally on the peacetime vision of 'Englishness' in the 'Puck' books which Kipling shared with the war poets.
From late November to late December 1887, Rudyard Kipling travelled in the 'Native States' of North India, enjoying his longest Indian experience of footloose travel. The influence of Kipling's travels in Rajasthan on his later writings goes beyond the dark history of Chitor and its influence on Cold Lairs. But Cold Lairs owes more to the Chitor of 'Letters of Marque' than its atmospheric ruins. Like Kim on the Grand Trunk Road encountering 'new sights at every turn of the approving eye', Kipling is from the start of the journey delighted by the experience of dawn on the road. In Boondi, Kipling encounters a way of living which he finds increasingly seductive. Though Kipling in 1888 repudiated 'natives' so fiercely, his immersion in the societies of Rajasthan had an enduring after-life in his greatest fictions of India.