of the District"
by John McGivering)
|notes on the text|
Dr. Islam is well aware that certain parts of Kipling’s writings have given offence to Indian readers and, by reflection, to English ones, and he knows what the offence is; but such notorious tales as “The Head of the District” and “The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P.” do not, in fact, offend him and he is able to read them without disturbance and to estimate how much of them is true and probable.Angus Wilson is inclined to agree (p. 74):
[See Islam, Chapter 4, passim for a further examination of this line of thought.]
… one of Kipling’s best stories ….. which, for a number of understandable but ultimately irrelevant reasons, has been a source of so much hostility to him. In particular … always a cause of offence to liberal and Indian readers.Other commentators argue pro and con but cannot get away from the inescapable fact that like “In Flood Time” (Soldiers Three), "The Head of the District" is another powerful story that grips the attention from start to finish. See also Seymour-Smith, pp. 169 ff. who refers to the old error of attributing to the author the statements of his characters (p. 170).
…I have also claimed that Kipling is eminently more than a commentator upon a changing political reality. Even where he is dealing with a highly political action or character we are continually being offered insights more characteristic of the artist’s eye than that of the political propagandist.