Postcolonial Studies: A Materialist Critique

By Benita Parry | Go to book overview

8

The content and discontents of Kipling's imperialism

In 1939 when Auden wrote his wry lines, Time that 'Worships language and forgives / Everyone by whom it lives' had not yet 'Pardoned Kipling and his views', 1 nor was exoneration imminent. Despite the patriotic fervour of the ensuing war years, liberals continued to regret colonialism's excesses, the anti-colonialist struggle was a left-wing cause, and intellectuals were sceptical about the British empire. T. S. Eliot's praise for Kipling's vision of imperial responsibility in a 1941 essay met with opposition from prominent writers and critics who considered Kipling's view of life to be incompatible with the principles of civility and were repelled by the bullying self-righteousness and racial vanity of his imperialism. 2 The reactions to Eliot's apologia secured Kipling's reputation as 'the prophet of British imperialism in its expansionist phase' (Orwell). During the following decades those who argued for his recognition as a major artist - although he had long since achieved popular acclaim as a 'classic', he had not been admitted to the canon - did so by pronouncing his social and political ideas irrelevant to evaluating his complex techniques and explorations of 'permanent human and moral themes'. 3

By the mid-1960s, western scholars whose discomfort at European aggression and conceit was receding in the aftermath of statutory decolonization had compiled a balance-sheet of colonialism which provided critics with a permit for expressing sober satisfac-tion at empire's achievements. Contributors to the concerted reappraisal around Kipling's centenary year freely infused their 'disinterested literary assessments' with esteem for his idealistic commitment to empire and firm grasp of political realities. 4 Now that the ideological right is on the offensive in the west, an even more favourable climate exists for Kipling's rehabilitation, and the ending of copyright on his works in 1987 produced a plethora of paperback editions with new introductions and appreciations which are frequently buttressed with exculpations of his imperialist vision.

Such readings draw on and abet the anti-anti-imperialism fostered by western ideologues eager to impugn postcolonial regimes, honour the colonialist legacy bequeathed by Europe and justify the continuing asymmetry between the hemispheres. 5 At a time when politicians, journalists, and entertainers have joined in the 'refurbishment of the empire's tarnished image', 6 the vindication of Kipling's textual affirmations and denigrations has been completed. When the British prime minister announces that she is a faithful student of Rudyard Kipling, she is not deferring to his literary virtuosity. When critics proffer a gloss which underwrites Kipling's views on a patriotism enjoining obedience to a hierarchical status quo at home and bellicosity abroad, on the conservation of England's ancestral culture, and on Europe's title to global leadership, they are

-119-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Postcolonial Studies: A Materialist Critique
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 243

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.