Rudyard Kipling eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 72 pages of information about Rudyard Kipling.
he would to-day be without a peer.  Mr Granville Barker is often cited as a classical modern example of precocity, but he was twenty-four when he wrote The Marrying of Anne Leete.  Mr Henry James was twenty-eight before he had published a characteristic word.  Mr Thomas Hardy at twenty-five had only printed a short story, and he was more than thirty when his first novel appeared.  Mr Kipling came upon the public in 1886 without a preliminary stutter.  Mr Kipling at twenty-two could write as craftily as Mr Kipling can write after nearly thirty years’ experience.  We shall not be greatly concerned in these pages to trace the progress of Mr Kipling’s craft and wisdom.  He was always crafty and always wise.  He had done some of his best work at thirty.  He recalls Hazlitt’s curious saying that an improving author is never a great author.  Mr Kipling is not an improving author.  There has been a little moving up and down the scale of excellence; many things hinted in the early volumes from Plain Tales from the Hills to Many Inventions are developed more elaborately and surely in later volumes; the old craft has come to be used with an ease that has in it more of the insolence of a master than was possible in the author of 1887.  But so far as literary finish is concerned, Plain Tales from the Hills leaves little to be acquired.  Already Mr Kipling wields his implement as deftly and firmly as many a skilled writer who was learning his lesson before Mr Kipling was born.  Few authors have so surely scored their best in their earliest years.  Authors are considered young to-day at thirty.  Mr Kipling at that age had already written The Jungle Book.

This does not, of course, imply that all Mr Kipling’s stories are of equal merit.  On the contrary, we shall henceforth be mainly concerned with looking for the inspired author under a mass of skilful journalism.  It is not a simple enterprise.  Mr Kipling is so competent an author that he is usually able to persuade his readers that his heart is equally in all he writes.  Moreover, Mr Kipling has fallen among many prejudices, literary and political, which have caused his least important work to be most discussed.  For these reasons the actual, as distinguished from the legendary, Mr Kipling is not easily discovered.  Mainly it is a work of excavation.

Mr Kipling has been writing short stories for nearly thirty years.  His tales are too numerous for disparate discussion.  It will be necessary to take them in groups.  One or two stories in each group will be taken as typical of the rest.  Thereby we shall avoid repetition and be able to show some sort of plan to the maze of Mr Kipling’s diversity of subjects and manners.



Mr Kipling’s Indian stories fall into three groups.  There are (1) the tales of Simla, (2) the Anglo-Indian tales, and (3) the tales of native India.  There is also Kim, which is more—­much more—­than a tale of India.

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Rudyard Kipling from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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