How to Read Kipling

In Michael Ondaatje’s Booker Prize-winning novel The English Patient, one character offers instructions to another on how to read Kipling, in general, and the novel Kim in particular:

“Read him slowly, dear girl, you must read Kipling slowly. Watch carefully where the commas fall so you can discover the natural pauses. He is a writer who used pen and ink. He looked up from the page a lot, I believe, stared through his window and listened to birds, as most writers who are alone do. Some do not know the names of birds, though he did. Your eye is too quick and North American. Think about the speed of his pen. What an appalling, barnacled old first paragraph it is otherwise.”

Each author I come to know through this project stays with me. I look forward to revisiting them, given the inspiration, as this decade of directed reading plays out.

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