London in the Fog
|notes on the text|
Of greater interest are Kipling's first reactions to the minor literary “coteries” amongst which he found himself during the few months before he discovered his true level. “Culture” at that time was the plaything of London society, and new “crazes” swept the capital in blind and exaggerated waves of uncritical “movements.” In vogue at that moment seem to have been the works of Guy de Maupassant, Pierre Loti and Paul Bourget: in “The Three Young Men” (2 January 1890) Kipling narrates how he was introduced to various youths most grievously afflicted with the new cult, and how, not to seem out of the fashion, he himself perused the works of those authors and came to the conclusion that:As was the case in “On Exhibition”, the narrator having become completely disenchanted with the offerings, and ‘to get exercise’ accepts an invitation from his friend, to go shooting on this occasion, as opposed to finding a place ‘where cabbies call, and drink something.’‘unwholesome was a mild term for these interesting books, which the young men assured me that they read for style. When a fat Major makes that remark in an Indian club, everybody hoots and laughs. But you must not laugh overseas, especially at young gentlemen who have been at Oxford.’
“Get a dictionary and read him,” which severed our budding friendship.