The Art of Rudyard Kipling

By J. M. S. Tompkins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
Change and Persistence

The limitations within which I have designed this book tell more adversely against this chapter than against any of the others. It may well be felt that to discuss change and persistence in Kipling, while ignoring the political and social incitements to either, is to leave out too much. I have considered omitting the following pages on the ground that the changes and persistence in his art, which come within my scope, have already been exemplified in various places, both as to his themes and his technique. Yet there remain a good many things that I should like to say on the subject, so I have let them stand. What follows must be regarded rather as a sampling than an investigation of this field.

Kipling had both a very acquisitive and a very tenacious mind. With the acquisitiveness went in his early years a large measure of precocity. It is natural, then, that the books with which he filled his enormous literary appetite as a boy and a young man should still feed the roots of his later works, and that the literature of the Eighties and Nineties should count for something in the tales and verses of the mature Kipling. Some of these debts he has acknowledged in Something of Myself and elsewhere--the childhood reading that cropped up in the Jungle Books; Browning ' Men and Women', which shaped his monologues in verse and prose and provided him with the figure of Fra Lippo Lippi, who seems to have accompanied him through life. Fra Lippo too rejoiced at the diversity of God's creatures and, moreover, said with irritation to the watch that apprehended him

You need not clap your torches to my face,

a remark that Kipling annexed for one of the chapters of Something of Myself. Browning's strongest influence, however, was necessarily early. Some of the short tales of Kipling's twenties are

-222-

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The Art of Rudyard Kipling
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter One - Kipling and the Novel 1
  • Chapter Two - Laughter 33
  • Chapter Three - Tales for Children 55
  • Chapter Four - Simplicity and Complexity 85
  • Chapter Five - Hatred and Revenge 119
  • Chapter Six - Healing 158
  • Chapter Seven - Man and the Abyss 185
  • Chapter Eight - Change and Persistence 222
  • List 260
  • Index 270
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