Rudyard Kipling

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(Joseph) Rudyard Kipling (December 30, 1865 – January 18, 1936) was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist who was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907,[1] a selection that later came to be almost universally mocked. He is today mostly remembered for his tales for children, although during his lifetime he was a worldwide celebrity, known for his fiction and poems. Although his reputation took a steep decline in the 1930s, from which it has never recovered, for many years prior to that he was the personification of the British Empire. He continues to have some admirers, who do not necessarily approve of his jingoism, his racism, and his aggravating "knowingness".[2]

He was born in Bombay (Mumbai) and was taken by his family to England in 1871, reurning to India as a reporter ten years later. He started as a writer of short stories about British life in India, many of which were written for newspapers there and later collected. He left India in 1889, and after a stay in America, eventually settled in Sussex.

His fiction, mainly short stories, encompassed a wide variety of genres: children's stories (didactic, humorous or exotic), horror, humour, science fiction, satire, romance, and adventure. The stories for children include The Jungle Book, The Second Jungle Book, and Just So Stories. His major novel is Kim: A Tale of Adventure. Many of the characters in his stories were based on real people, and likewise he used detailed knowledge of actual places.[3]

There is a similar variety in his poems, though the ones mostly remembered are those sprinkled among the children's stories, and the jingoistic. T.S. Eliot made a selection of his poems, which he referred to as "verse".[4]

His poetic style was easily mocked:

As I was walkin' the jungle round, a-killin' of tigers an' time
I seed a kind of an author man a writin' a rousin' rhyme;[5]

As well as:

Will there never come a season

Which shall rid us from the curse
Of a prose that knows no reason
And an unmelodious verse....
When the Rudyards cease from Kipling

And the Haggards Ride no more?[6]

References

  1. Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed Margaret Drabble, Oxford University Press 1995
  2. Hopkirk, P. Quest for Kim: Kipling's Great Game. John Murray. 1996
  3. Hopkirk
  4. A choice of Kipling's verse made by T.S. Eliot, Faber and Faber, 1941
  5. "A Ballad", by Guy Wetmore Carryl, in Parodies: An Anthology from Chaucer to Beerbohm—and After, Dwight Macdonald, Editor, Random House, New York, 1960, page 152, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 60-12147
  6. "To R. K. (1891)", by J. K. Steven, in Parodies: An Anthology from Chaucer to Beerbohm—and After, Dwight Macdonald, Editor, Random House, New York, 1960, pages 152-153, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 60-12147