Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rudyard Kipling-Three Short Stories by England's First Nobel Prize Winner

"The Man Who Would Be King"  (1888, 28 pages)
"How the Leopard Got His Spots  (1902, 5 pages)
"How the Rhinoceros Got his Horn"   (1903, 4 pages)

Three Stories by England's First Nobel Prize Winner 
Reflections on the Troubles in London

This morning I was watching the evening American news (shown on a next day basis in Manila).    The commentator showed scenes of the riots  in London.   In one shopping center every store had been looted and wrecked but one.   No one went into the bookstore at all.     I guess no one wanted to load their back pack up with stolen copies of the books of the great London born writers.    One of the best weeks of my life was spent in London visiting the Dickens House,  the Pepys Museum and having lunch at 400 year old pubs where Samuel Johnson once held court.    I recall wishing I had a week just to spend at the Victoria and Albert Museum and going into serious sensory load at Harrod's Food Court.   I loved riding the subway all over town.    I was totally thrilled to see engravings by William Blake at the Tate Museum.      I hope all of the London based readers of my blog are safe and that this madness will end soon.    My guess is nobody who loves the great British writers is out looting.

I have been wanting to read some of Kipling (1865-1936-born India-Nobel Prize 1907-author of Kim and The Jungle Book,  and "The White Man's Burden") ever since I read the chapter on him in Frank O'Connor The Lonely Voice:   A Study of the Short Story.    O'Connor has complicated mixed feelings about Kipling.    I will try to explore them latter in a post once I have read more of Kipling but basically he says Kipling cannot face being alone and uses the trappings of the British Empire in India to shield himself.    

Kipling is also the anti-poster boy of post colonial literary studies.   "The Man Who Would be King" is about two men from England seeking their fortune in India who somehow end up as kings in a remote part of Afghanistan.     The story is narrated by a journalist in India (as Kipling was himself) who hears a story told by the two adventurers who went from Rags to kings and back to rags.   Along the way the meet all sorts of exotic people (this story would send recent readers of Edward Said's Orientalism into a frenzy!) and has some marvelous adventures.   The standard of writing is high and the descriptions of the things and people the men encountered are very interesting.   
"How the Leopard Got his Spots" and "How the Rhinoceros Got his Horn" both were probably written to be children's stories.    They are told sort of as parables.   I found them entertaining and I am glad I read them.

Pretty much all of Kipling can be found online.

I will look again at Kipling when I read the three stories that Frank O'Connor does says are masterworks and look at what O'Conner says about him in more detail then

Mel u


Fred said...

Mel u,

If you enjoyed the short story, _The Man Who Would Be King_, you should see the film version with Sean Connery, Michael Caine, and Christopher Plummer as Kipling.

Mel u said...

Fred-I saw the movie years ago and will watch it again the next time it comes on-thanks very much for mentioning it-