of the Question"
(notes edited by
|notes on the text|
…pointing out the defects of the English and their government. It continues the studies of the English from the native point of view, begun in “Lispeth”, (Plain Tales from the Hills) and comes much closer to the original tradition represented by The Turkish Spy, Voltaire’s L’Ingénu, and Addison’s Four Indian Kings. In a later story “A Sahib’s War” (Traffics and Discoveries) Kipling once more criticizes English affairs from an outsider’s point of view.Angus Wilson sees the story, 'if it can be so called' as reflecting the young Kipling’s initial hatred for London, in which 'everything [is] seen as corrupt, decadent, and potentially anarchic.' Carrington calls it Kipling’s 'virulent prose satire on the state of London as seen by an Indian Moslem visitor.' Other comment is difficult to find.
This story or article has been described as ‘Kipling at his worst’ and we may as well acknowledge that not all are first class.One could perhaps most fairly criticize the story for creating in its narrator a character made exclusively of stereotypes: the unscrupulously brutal Muslim gentleman who despises educated Bengalis, sees women as purpose-built mothers, and seizes on British weakness as an opportunity to usurp power. The simplicity of the character’s morality fits neither his political position nor the sophistication of his language.