|Starting Life's Handicap
||[Jan. 28th, 2010|11:23 am]
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.