Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Starting Life's Handicap

I'm re-reading Kipling- as I do periodically. I'll be blogging my progress. Expect this to be the first such post of many.

Life's Handicap is an 1891 collection that contains some of the best of the Indian short stories. "The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney" is a shockingly amoral farce with flashes of tenderness and beauty; really there's a whole world contained in its 30 odd pages. "The Courting of Dinah Shadd" is about love and sex and loyalty- male fecklessness and female singlemindedness- and if it doesn't quite deliver the punch it intends one has to remember that Kipling was only about 25 and romantically inexperienced- indeed possibly still a virgin-  when he wrote it.  Both stories deal with the life lived by British soldiers in India and- allowing for a heightening of incident and a toning down of  language (sanguinary for bloody)- deal with it truthfully. No-one of talent had handled this material before. And no-one- certainly no Englishman- had written with such a focused, arts-and-craftsy attention to structure, detail and polish.  Kipling is an English Zola, but also an English Flaubert-  and finally- and this is what makes him uniquely great- a poet with a poet's instinctive knowledge of the inwardness and connectedness of things.
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