Tag Archives: Kim


Warts and All

The ugliest part of the novels and nonfiction masterworks of the early 20th century are not, in the end, what they describe – all kinds of human cruelty, crushing poverty, corruption and violence – but their authors’ limitations, the muck they failed to rake from their minds. In 1906, just five years after the publication […]

Kip and Hana

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 […]


The Pleasures (and pain) of Imperialism

Rudyard Kipling was undoubtedly an imperialist and a proud one at that. But was he racist? The debate rages on, in part because racism turns out to be a lot like obscenity – at its margins, it defies definition yet it must be grappled with whenever perceived. Has Kipling’s reputation been weighed down by anachronistic […]


‘Fascinating Story of India’

In the 1901 review of Kim published in The New York Times, high praise for Mr. Kipling… Rudyard Kipling is what Stockton might term a Discouragerof Prophesy. Easily within the memory of the youngest of them the critics were inclined to apply to him Prof. Wilson’s luckless prediction concerning Macaulay, and to declare that, while […]


Empire builder or bard?

Did Rudyard Kipling “incarnate the late Victorian sense of Empire” or did he create it? David Gilmour asks in his biography: An ingenious theory suggests that officers who read Kipling somehow managed to mould their men so that they became like his soldiers. General Sir George Younghusband had served in India for many years without […]


The Great Game

Rudyard Kipling is credited with introducing ‘The Great Game’ to the masses in his novel Kim, but it is Arthur Conolly, an intelligence officer with the British East India Company’s Sixth Bengal Light Cavalry, who reportedly coined the term in order to describe the protracted 19th century conflict between Great Britain and Russia for hegemony […]


Kipling’s Burden

In the years leading up to 1914, Rudyard Kipling may have spoken out and waved the flag for what he believed to be a necessary and inevitable war (“What stands if freedom fall? / Who dies if England live?”), but he paid dearly for his own integrity. His own 18-year-old son, John, went off to […]


Kipling on Writing

From The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling: As usual in his more mature work, [Kipling] obsessively excised superfluous words – and quite often words that would have made the sense rather clearer. ‘Wordiness is effeminacy, and unforgivable,’ he told poor Edmund Gosse, who had sinned: unnecessary words were ‘the enemy of vigour’ […]


Kipling at Work

I love seeing writers’ rooms. I wrote my first (though, hopefully, not my last) book in a then-broken down, legally contested and now shut down-student flat in West Beirut with a lemon tree painted on the wall. A lot less glamorous, not at all Victorian, but a memorable sanctuary nonetheless.