Tag Archives: Kipling


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 […]


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 […]


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.


The Two-Sided Man

For those who lack the luxury of time to read all of Kipling’s works and draw their own conclusions, myself among them, the complexity of the man is suggested most evocatively, perhaps, in his own poem The Two-Sided Man, and articulated more clearly and directly by George Orwell. (Commonalities between the two authors inspired a […]


Poet of ‘East and West’

Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment seat; … But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth. […]