Rudyard Kipling: Weird Tale Master and Much More

Extollager

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I'm tempted to nominate Kipling (1865-1936) as the great neglected British author of the late Victorian era and early 20th century, as (it seems to me) Sir Walter Scott may be the neglected master of the early 19th century. These authors once were enormously popular (and Kipling was the first English author to cop the Nobel Prize in literature), but some of their opinions are unfashionable today (and misremembered by people who dismiss them), and both have a sense of history that is rarely possessed by readers and English department faculty. Many of their stories also use dialect; it is curious that, in our time when so many plume themselves on their adherence to "multiculturalism," the attempt to suggest the voice of people not speaking standard English stops readers dead.

Kipling seems to me a genuine master of the weird tale, whether in his early Indian stories or later story collections. He can be gruesome ("The Mark of the Beast," for example) and poignant ("The Wish-House").

Here's a handful of Kipling stories worth looking up:


A Bank Fraud

In Flood Time

On Greenhow Hill

At the Pit’s Mouth

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Without Benefit of Clergy

The Man Who Would Be King

Wee Willie Winkie

Courting of Dinah Shadd

The Mark of the Beast

The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes

The Phantom ’Rickshaw

At the End of the Passage

“Wireless” (but read Keats’s poem “The Eve of St. Agnes” first)

“They”

The House Surgeon

Mary Postgate

Mrs. Bathurst

The Wish House

My Son’s Wife

Dayspring Mishandled

Not all of these are weird tales, but then I'm not trying to "sell" Kipling simply as an author of such.

Excellent notes on Kipling's stories are available. Just click on the story title.

http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/bookmart_fra.htm

You can use Project Gutenberg to track down his stories online, and used copies of Kipling books should be easily come by.
 

j d worthington

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I had not read much of Kipling's works until recently; I've still only dipped my toes into the waters of his entire corpus, but I'd have to agree with your assessment. Frankly, I'd put him up there as one of the masters of the short story, right alongside (though quite different from) Poe and Maupassant. As for the unpopular views -- frankly, my view of that has increasingly become an impatience with people who are unable to get past the fact that a writer has opinions they find offensive. If that's the case, you're likely to find every writer has such on some subject or other. And, yes, much of what we "know" about Kipling is either whole cloth or seriously misremembered, and even a cursory reading of a variety of his writings will demonstrate that.

At any rate, my approach recently began with an intention to look up his weird writings -- a term I use rather loosely -- but along the way to read a fair selection of his other material as well. And, like Flaubert, I find that some element of that worldview is not at all uncommon to a great portion of his body of work. (As I've said numerous times, though certainly going into it as the proto-realistic novel, I soon found myself viewing Madame Bovary as a ghost story, and his handling of this theme to be very much in line with his interests in the supernatural and sublime as seen in Salammbô or The Temptation of Saint Anthony....)

Incidentally, I am particularly glad to see "They" on your list. This was one of the most unexpected pleasures I came across many years ago when I first read that wonderful anthology by Wise and Fraser, Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural....
 

Ray McCarthy

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I was given 10 volumes (no idea if complete) published by Macmillan & Co. Ltd: This Uniform Edition 1899. (Third Edition 1890). Some at least appear to be collected short stories from magazines with a few "new" ones added.
I've read Jungle Book maybe 40 years ago and recently re-read Puck of Pook's Hill (org. published in 1906) in a more modern Edition. I must start dipping into the old set and reading.
I think if he was on BBC TV every week, people might find him less extreme than Jeremy Clarkson.
 
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Extollager

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Here's an essay criticizing Edward Said on Kipling.

http://www.newenglishreview.org/Ibn_Warraq/Rudyard_Kipling,_India_and_Edward_Said/

I imagine most Chrons people who have done academic work in English in the past 30 years or so have heard of Said and may have had to read him, may even have taken his opinions for their own. I am old enough to have been able to study English on the university level without being required to read ES. I have read Paul Johnson (author of Modern Times, The Birth of the Modern, A History of the Jews, and more; when I was going to teach War and Peace, I found his little book on Napoleon helpful), who characterized Said as a "malevolent liar and propagandist, who has been responsible for more harm than any other intellectual of his generation.”

No doubt Said had things to say about Johnson. Those interested can look into the matter. My guess is that if they have studied English in the past 30 years or so, they got Said's side and that was about it. He has been a real academic darling.

Back to Kipling....
 

galanx

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I think we did this whole is-Kipling-politically-correct-throwing-our-hands-up-in-horror-at-the-SJWs- thing once before, no?
Rudyard Kipling
 

Elventine

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I love Rudyard Kiplings short stories and poems. I grew up on stories like Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,The Cat That Walked by Himself and those stories about India and such. I have an old book that has a whole collection of his works which I have kept even though it has lost it's title page (so I have no idea what it was called!) and is currently held together by sticky tape. :oops:
 

Bick

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Welcome to the Chrons, Elventine. Sounds like you have a suitable fixation on literature to fit in!
 

Extollager

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Elventine, does your Kipling volume look like this?



Bound in red cloth, with The Works of Kipling stamped in gold against a black square on the spine?

I used to have that nice thick compendium. I believe I passed it on to my son, since I waqs building a Kipling library of the complete contents of his various story collections, etc.

[Edit: I see you aren't sure what it was called; but presumably you would be if the book said "The Works of Kipling" on the spine--unless the spine is damaged. The book is laid out in double columns, as I recall.]
 

Elventine

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Nope... It is red and it is a hard, cloth cover like that but the spine is gone (was gone when I got it second hand as a kid) and the cover has an embossed picture of a panther on it in black.... The title page also has gone along with the spine :) so it starts with a poem called the Ugly Hump? o_O Not sure now... but it is about what one must do when one is all out of sorts and grumpy.
 
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