a story of West and East
These notes have taken as their starting point the ORG entry on the novel. They have been edited, emended and expanded by Sharad Keskar
notes on the text
... anything in which Kipling had a hand is readable; here and there it is enlivened by piercing observations and forcible expressions such as no one but Kipling could have penned…But Carrington feared, like James, that the book did little to enhance Kipling’s reputation. There is some hint of Kipling’s collaboration being half-hearted, but this overlooks the tragedy of Wolcott’s death, and the fact that Kipling was always open to aid and advice from those close to him—his mother, his sister, Trix and above all his father Lockwood.
The Naulahka was one of Kipling's least successful books. An alien hand lay heavy on him, and reading the dry, stilted chapters contributed by Balesttier about life in the Middle West one is again astonished by the spell that this man exercised. ?One is also somewhat astonished by Lord Birkenhead's apparent belief that Colorado is in the Middle West, which rather undermines one's confidence in his judgement of matters American. Kingsley Amis (p. 65) is more appreciative of Balestier's work:
The first four chapters, certainly Balestier's work, show an engaging light wit that Kipling never attempted. If the former used the same sort of style in talk as in writing, we have a good unsensational reason for the latter's attachment to him.And Angus Wilson (pp. 162-3) also sees merit in the tale:
This novel has usually been dismissed as an inferior work, unhappily written with an inferior writer. I agree with Kingsley Amis in thinking that this conventional judgement is mistaken. Naulahka is not a masterpiece, but it is excellent reading. The American first section, laid in Colorado, written by Balestier who spent some time in the South West States after he left Cornell University, is very fresh and workmanlike ... And the Indian section, laid in a princely state, gave free rein to Kipling's dark imagination of princely intrigues that had been roused by his visits to the ancient ruined cities of Amber and Chitor.J M S Tompkins (pp. 1-2) is more critical:
The writing of the Indian scenes is in the main better that that in the original srticles (in Letters of Marque) but it is impossible to think that much effort went to this book. No doubt, however, pleasure did, a rare taste of partnership in writing, perhaps a pleasure in letting the collaborator have his head, perhaps a glee in angling for the American public with a book of which the hero and heroine were American. It resulted, however, in artistic confusion and nullity. Kate's missionary zeal is defeated by Kipling's India, while Kate's young man defeats India on another level, winning the Rajah's treasure by a mixture of naive audacity and bluff... East and West fail to meet to any profitable purpose.However, as Harry Ricketts points out (p. 179) the authors never had high literary pretensions for the book:
It was a novel very much in the ripping-yarn line of King Solomon's Mines and The Black Arrow, and Kipling and Wolcottt's references to the work confirm that they had no pretensions beyond the limits of the genre.The Naulahka had sold some 20,000 copies in the United Kingdom by 1910.
... in 1890 and 1891, two important writers were each engaged upon a novel, in collaboration with a young American, a relation of his wife (though in one case the marriage was still to come). Robert Louis Stevenson was working on The Wrecker with his young stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, in the Antipodes, while at the opposite end of the world Rudyard Kipling was writing The Naulahka with Wolcott Balestier, whose sister became Mrs. Kipling.The Wrong Box, also written by Stevenson in collaboration with Lloyd Osbourne, was one of Kipling's favourite stories. [See the notes in this Guide on "The Vortex" in A Diversity of Creatures.]
... Both Pinkerton in The Wrecker and Tarvin in The Naulahka have a blind spot in their moral sense, so that the one can see no wrong in smuggling opium to natives, and the other in stealing a valuable necklace or in bogus gold-mining. [J.H.M.S.]
...their working methods were for Wolcott to sit hammering away at the typewriter, and Kipling to pace about the room while both kept up a constant volley of lines, suggestions, and criticism...This could explain the misspelling of Naulakha as a typing error. It is a reasonable deduction but one that may be unfair to Wolcott. A competent journalist, he was not without talent and, generally, it is agreed that the first part of the book is largely his, though as early as p.19 one may detect a Kipling touch in these sentences:
'It is strange that men to whom life is a joke find comfort in women to whom it is a prayer.Why the book’s title has been left uncorrected remains a mystery. In his letters, where Kipling refers to it, he spells “Naulakha” correctly. The one exception is in his letter to Wolcott of 20 August 1891. There, too, one finds both spellings, and this may point to the possibility of Wolcott’s typing error, and of Kipling leaving it in, in affectionate memory and regard for a dear friend. Kipling named the house which he built in Vermont, USA, "Naulakha"—again the right spelling.
'No man can successfully conduct a love-affair and a political canvass at the same time.
The history of the “real” Naulakha is a mixture of fact and fiction. But there is no doubt that this fabulous jewel did exist and, knowing of its fame, Kipling and Wolcott Balestier, wove into their legend the tale of a jewel that rivalled the Kohinoor.Naulakha in Lahore
According to Perceval Landon's Nepal Vol. I (1928), pages 158-159, the Nana Sahib, (responsible not only for the massacre of British troops after they surrendered at Cawnpore on June 26th 1857, but also of about 250 English women and children), fled to Nepal in the last days of the Mutiny, and sought protection of the Jung Bahadur Rana, who was Prime Minister and virtual ruler of the country.
The Jung Bahadur, to quote Landon:
“emphatically refused to extend any shelter to Nana Sahib himself. ‘Tell Nana Sahib and Bala Rao I will not protect them and disturb my relations with the English. If you want to fight the English and the Gorkhalis, say so, and you shall be massacred to a man.’According to the Calcutta records, Nana Sahib ... assumed the mendicant robes of the Atit order, and went west. But before leaving Deondari, the Nana Sahib had taken with him, from Bithur, the most valuable jewels in his possession. They included the famous ‘Naulakha’, the principal jewel of the Peshwas. It is—for it exists still—a long necklace of pearls, diamonds and emeralds, and is perhaps without a rival in the world.
The Maharaja of Darbhanga owns this necklace now. It descended through Jung Bahadur’s brother, Rana Udip Singh, to Maharaja Bir Sham Sher, whose widow sold it to Maharaja Deva Sham Sher during the short time the latter was Prime Minister. In 1901 he was expelled from Nepal, and the Maharaja of Darbhanga has told the story to the writer of how a message reached him one night that a wonderful necklace was for sale:
‘I said at once that must be the Nepalese necklace, for I was certain that two such jewels do not exist. I asked for time to consider the matter, but I was told that it was absolutely essential that the bargain should be concluded that night.’The Maharaja of Darbhanga bought the necklace and has added slightly to it, but in its general shape it is practically what Nana Sahib sold to Jang Bahadur. [C.L.A.]
[See KJ 124 in the Kipling Journal Archive for the full article.
Naulahka or Naulakha was founded in the first half of the 16th century by the Moghal Prince Kamran when he was Viceroy of Lahore. He was brother of the Emperor Humayun (1508-1556). There was once a palace, also gardens and various buildings on which the founder is said to have spent nine lakhs of rupees.Old maps of the City of Lahore show the site of this 16th century palace and gardens. It is north of the city and is depicted as a large open space. Kipling must have ridden across and around it quite frequently.