June 17th, 2012

Anything But...

Judy has a side job tutoring little Korean kids and she just read Rikki-Tikki-Tavi with one of them. Now she wants to expand his knowledge of Kipling by adding Gunga Din, Recessional and The White Man's Burden.

No, no, no, no!  Look, personally I'd be prepared to defend all three, but it's no use pretending they're not problematic. If you wanted to dismiss Kipling as irrelevant and racist (as many have done and still do) these are the texts on which you'd base your argument. ("Lesser breeds without the Law" for pity's sake!) How about substituting Danny Deever, or Follow Me 'Ome (gay subtext) or Mary Pity Women (as feminist as anything you're likely to harvest from the 1890s).

Or one of the poems from the Puck books.

Or Mandalay or Ford O' Kabul River (The first rule of international politics is don't invade Afghanistan, you fools!)

I've got a long car journey ahead of me today and I can see I'm going to be spending it riffling through the Collected Kipling I keep in my head.

PS. I expect to be offline for a couple of days, so if I don't reply to comments it's not (just) because I'm rude and ignorant.