Rudyard Kipling's Kim

Rudyard Kipling's Kim

Rudyard Kipling's Kim

Rudyard Kipling's Kim

Excerpt

Twenty years after writing his essay of 1943 on Kipling (reprinted in The Liberal Imagination, 1951), Lionel Trilling remarked that if he could write the critique again, he would do it "less censoriously and with more affectionate admiration." Trilling, always the representative critic of his era, reflected a movement in the evaluation of Kipling that still continues in 1986. I suspect that this movement will coexist with its dialectical countermovement of recoil against Kipling, as long as our literary tradition lasts.Kipling is an authentically popular writer, in every sense of the word. Stories like "The Man Who Would Be King"; children's tales from the Jungle Books and the Just So Stories; the novel Kim, which is clearlyKipling's masterwork; certain late stories and dozens of ballads—these survive both as high literature and as perpetual entertainment. It is as though Kipling had set out to refute the Sublime function of literature, which is to make us forsake easier pleasures for more difficult pleasures.

In his speech on "Literature," given in 1906,Kipling sketched a dark tale of the storyteller's destiny:

There is an ancient legend which tells us that when a man first achieved a most notable deed he wished to explain to his Tribe what he had done. As soon as he began to speak, however, he was smitten with dumbness, he lacked words, and sat down. Then there arose—according to the story- a masterless man, one who had taken no part in the action of his fellow, who had no special virtues, but who was afflicted—that is the phrase—with the magic of the necessary word. He saw; he told; he described the merits of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.