by John McGivering)
|notes on the text|
Like all Englishmen, he [Kipling] perceives a mystery in India which he desires to penetrate , but equally he believes, like all Englishmen, that to do so is to lose oneself. Another figure that fascinates him is the “loafer” the white man “gone native” like McIntosh Jellaludin [who] ... it is hinted, has penetrated some of the mysteries of the East, but he pays the price in degradation and death.Kipling’s nocturnal ramblings and Strickland’s activities are not mentioned here, but obviously come to mind as Wurgaft notes (p. 108):
Kipling was known for his unusual knowledge of native life , and for his intimacy with “wild” or “filthy” Indians from the frontier regions (and) was familiar with natives and their customs and was constantly holding chats with “filthy” tribesmen who regarded him as a “Sahib apart”.One of these, recorded by E Kay Robinson in Mclure’s Magazine, July 1896, in an article called “Kipling in India”, was "a Pathan horse-dealer with magnificent mien and features Mahbub Ali, I think was his name, who regarded Kipling as a man apart from all other ‘sahibs.’" They had conversations together and, some four years after the publication of Robinson’s article, Mahbub Ali appears as a principal character in Kim.
By every Anglo-Indian standard he has failed utterly. And yet he has captured Kipling's imagination: the conversations between McIntosh and the reporter suggest in a curious way that two conflicting impulses in Kipling himself are debating against one another. McIntosh embodies that part of Kipling's mind for which the restraints of Anglo-Indian life were intolerably burdensome...McIntosh is enviable to the extent that he has seen to the bottom of Indian life, and can therefore laugh at Strickland as an ignorant man. He is enviable as the author of 'Mother Maturin', the novel Kipling had begin but was never to complete.See McClure (pp. 46 ff.) for an interesting examination of the narrator’s interaction with Strickland in this and other stories and a suggestion why Mother Maturin was never finished.