Three Quotations

(Nov 11th to 17th)


1. With a mallet and a pair of tweezers he knocked out mysterious wedges of wood that released the forme, picked a letter here and inserted a letter there, reading as he went along and stopping much to chuckle over his own contributions. This is from "The Last Term" in Stalky & Co.

Beetle, who is now editing the school magazine, is making some final adjustments to the copy at the printing-office. He then comes on the type for a forthcoming Latin exam paper, and edits it to lethal effect.


2. '…Look! The thing shines now within and without. God! That so much should lie on a word…' This is from "Proofs of Holy Writ", Kipling's last tale. Shakespeare and Ben Jonson are sitting under an apple tree in Stratford, over a flagon of wine. They are working together on changes to the text of Chapter 60 of Isaiah in the new Authorised version of the Bible, which is in the making.

We have recently published the full text of this rare story on this site.


3. …They were originally much longer than when they appeared, but the shortening of them, first to my own fancy after rapturous re-readings, and next to the space available, taught me that a tale from which pieces have been raked out is like a fire that has been poked. One does not know that the operation has been performed, but everyone feels the effect… This is from Kipling's autobiography, Something of Myself.

Here, taking the example of Plain Tales from the Hills, he is talking of the virtue of ruthlessly cutting stories down to the essentials. Some readers have found that in one or two of his later writings he cut so much that the tales have become rather baffling.