Rudyard Kipling. The Writer Takes Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Some -- give trouble for half a year (Kipling)."

The above passage is clear and plain as it describes deaths by heart attacks that are sudden, accidents that are sudden and death by illness in which the person slowly dies.

In another passage Kipling illuminates the fact that just as there are many different personalities among the living, there are also many different personalities among the dying and how they choose to react to their impending death.

Some die quietly. Some abound

In loud self-pity. Others spread

Bad morale through the cots around...

This is a type that is better dead (Kipling). "

There is no question about what point Kipling seeks to make with his writing. He is clear and concise and there is no need to try and second guess any underlying meaning of his intent as one passes through the poems and stories of his career.

His writing style is blunt, but not simplified. It provides the reader with emotional pause without causing the reader to have to tire him or herself in deciding the intent of the work.


While there were many people who were fans of Kipling, he also had critics who were not impressed with his works, especially during his later years. Among those who critiqued his work he found a strange combination of supporters and detractors who all saw the same words but read different meanings into them.

Acclaimed literary critic Warren Lewis had a deep appreciation for the work of Kipling and described his prose as hammer blows, meaning they were delivered with strength and punch.

Lewis often shared his appreciation of Kipling with others, and even appropriated Kipling's style in some of his own work. He once wrote to his brother Warren, "I know hardly any poet who can deliver such a hammer stroke. The stories are, I suppose, even now admitted to be good by all except a handful of Left idiots. Lewis called Kipling "first and foremost the poet of work (Hooper, 2006)."

Yet, despite this longstanding admiration for Kipling's stories and poetry, Lewis is more ambivalent concerning Kipling's content (Hooper, 2006). For all the qualities Lewis celebrates in Kipling's stories, his support wavers sharply between breathless adulation and a distaste bordering on nausea (Hooper, 2006): "I mean a real disenchantment, a recoil which makes the whole Kipling world, for the moment unendurable, a heavy, glaring, suffocating monstrosity (Hooper, 2006)."

It becomes evident that while he had a great respect for Kipling's short stories and poems he was not confident that Kipling had the ability to carry his talent through an entire book or novel.

Many critics of Kipling's work have accused him of being cruel and enjoying writing about the extreme suffering of others. In his story Mary Postgate they point out the fact that she watched a German soldier die a horrific death rather than help him because she was angry that the young man she loved had died in the war (Colebatch, 2001).

Critics of Kipling believe this is a significant evidence of his desire to inflict pain, especially given that he wrote the story after his own son died in the war.

One critic believed that Kipling's talent ran so deep he was able to illicit the exact emotions of anger within that story that he wanted to secure from the readers. It was done with such subtle talent said critics that the readers come away thinking the author must be as cold and cruel as Mary is. It is the mark of a good writer and the mark of excellent work.

Another literary critic Mary Conde believes that his Letters of the Marque are a mocking of the idea of empire while at the same time providing tribute to the idea.

Conde believed that Kipling was adept at shifting the reader's views in relation to himself as the narrator (Conde, 2004).

It has been remarked of his 'formative years' (1885-87) that whether he wrote in the first or third person, 'he could not control the irresistible tendency to interfere with the narrative.' In the Letters such interference becomes part of the narrative itself. Andrew Lycett has observed of Kipling that, 'as when indulging in opium, he liked to cast off his official persona from time to time and traveling seemed an agreeable way of doing this' (Colebatch, 2001)."

Conde believed that the strength of ability for Kipling to use himself as a narrator was what drew such distinctive lines in the sand between those who were supportive of his work and those who were offended by it.

Paul Battles characterizes Kipling as
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a critic for imperials rather than an apologist and uses Kipling's story the Mark of the Beast to explore that opinion. According to Battles, the story uses the Indian deity Hanuman to confront an Englishman mocking an idol.

With few exceptions, recent critics of Kipling's work have commented on the ambiguity and multi-voicedness of his fictional portraits of Empire, and have rightly insisted on separating Kipling's public persona from his artistic personae (Battles, 1996)."

While his critics are sometimes harsh about Kipling's work they agree that he could not have expected readers to understand the nuances surrounding the religious practices of the Indians in India, however many times they believed he was using his characters to mock the English and others for not understanding such things.


An interview was held with an English professor named Martha Powers. Powers has studied and examined the work of Rudyard Kipling for more than three decades and uses his works to teach her class.

According to Powers, Kipling is at times purposely misunderstood by critics who are offended by his blunt discussions about race, religion and culture.

Powers believes that Kipling was as blunt as he was in his works to illuminate the truth of the world as it was during his lifetime. There was no point in becoming a revisionist with history by pretending things were not as they were.

Instead of criticizing his work, Powers encourages her students to embrace it and learn from it because it shows how much society has changed when it comes to religious, cultural and racial issues.

Powers particular likes to focus on his short stories in class.

He was so open, so honest and presented life the way it was at that time," said Powers.

Where else does one find a writer of fiction that doesn't worry about societal acceptance but instead tells it in the way that it happened so that for the rest of time it will present a historical account of reality."

Powers presents Kipling to her freshman English class without apology. She has students of all races and cultures in her classes and expects them to be mature enough to understand that Kipling was a man of a different era.

I don't mind when they want to debate his views," said Powers. "In fact I encourage that because that is a healthy discourse for them. I still expect them to read his works and participate in the assignments as he was one of the most concise writers in our modern history."

Powers also takes into account that he was loyal to the culture of India and that his first few years in England were with an abusive caretaker.

Everything one goes through helps to color and make them what they eventually become," said Powers. "He wrote what he wrote because of his life experiences and it is a testimony to one person's life."

Powers favors Kipling's short stories and is not as impressed with his efforts at poetry.

They are sometimes almost immature," she said. "They don't have the same depth that his short stories and his non-fiction had."

While Kipling is well-known for his adult works of literature his best known and most wide spread work has to do with children. The famous story the Jungle Book produced by Disney as a movie is taken from the story penned by Kipling.

Part of the magic of his children's stories comes from the stories he used to make up for his children when they were small.

All one has to do when trying to decide whether Kipling was a cold man with little compassion for other cultures, or simply telling it the way society was at the time is to watch the classic the Jungle Book.

It is filled with caring, and differences and acceptance of those differences and it has made children around the world sing and dance.


Rudyard Kipling was arguably one of the most controversial authors in modern times. He spent his life moving from continent to continent trying to understand and fit in with the cultures there.

As he penned his works he was first admired then shunned by critics who wanted to pigeon hole him and when the works did not fit in the holes they declared him dry and untalented.

The fact is Kipling accomplished what very few authors are able to…

Sources Used in Documents:


Second-Rate Woman (Accessed 5-26-07)

Rudyard Kipling

Battles, Paul (1996) "The Mark of the Beast": Rudyard Kipling's apocalyptic vision of empire.

Studies in Short Fiction

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