The Art of Rudyard Kipling

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

CHAPTER FIVE
Hatred and Revenge

In Something of Myself Kipling sums up the emotional results of his sojourn as a child in the House of Desolation in the words: 'In the long run these things, (sc. the unjust punishments and humiliations he has described) and many more of the like, drained me of any capacity for real, personal hate for the rest of my days. So close must any life-filling passion lie to its opposite.' It is more helpful to accept than dismiss this piece of self-knowledge. For one thing, it draws attention to the pervasiveness of the 'opposite--love--in his work, especially family love and the friendship between men. Sustaining and stable love is very seldom at the centre of his tales; it is at the edge or in the frame; it is the condition in which his valuable men are rooted, from which they go forth and to which they return, whether it is found in the country estate that bred and welcomes back the Brushwood Boy or in the childless home by the docks where Janet McPhee makes her husband comfortable. Secondly, the limits of the statement are interesting. What is disclaimed is the capacity for personal hate. This leaves a large field open. The emotion is further qualified as 'real', and for the explanation of this we must probably turn to 'Dayspring Mishandled'; for the imagination can permit itself to indulge in a hate that is illusory, inasmuch as it would never support the proof of action.

Much earlier, at the end of 'Baa Baa, Black Sheep', the tale based on his childish passions and sufferings, he had written: 'When young lips have drunk deep of the bitter water of Hate, Suspicion and Despair, all the Love in the world will not wholly take away that knowledge.' Of these three lessons, thus early learnt, suspicion is not important to him as an artist; rather we find again the 'opposite'--proved reliance. Despair is part of his world, but seldom at the centre of a tale. It is more often in the wings or caught by a slant of memory. Findlayson, watching in

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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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