Kent Conference

Abstracts of the papers presented

Western Michigan University e-mail:

Mapping the Outreaches of the Empire in ‘The Man Who Would Be King’

In this paper, I will argue that Kipling’s ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ is an attempt to map the political systems and social relations that comprise colonial society. Though a number of Kipling’s contemporaries offered descriptive surveys of surrounding regions, Kipling’s endeavour is different in that he undertakes to map structures and systems of relations in colonial India. Fredric Jameson argues that mapping global space is crucial for subjects who experience a sense of alienation and fragmentation resulting from the globalization of the economy. I will submit, however, for Anglo-Indians, the unchartered territory in northeastern Afghanistan, Kafiristan, comes to embody a threat to Anglo-Indian sovereignty. Not only were they living on the margins of this unexplored region vulnerable to Russian invasion, but they were increasingly becoming critical of British imperial policy in India and the dwindling enthusiasm for imperial expansion back home. Hence, Kafiristan provides Kipling with an opportunity to address the flaws of colonial ideology and offer an itinerary for a renewed imperial policy. The inability to map one’s relation to larger social structures negatively impacts the subject. For Jameson, the subject’s failure to map the social environment results in the experience of schizophrenia. Clearly, psychological breakdown is the fate of Peachy Carnehan, as other critics have noted. Dravot, however, experiences the ultimate penalty with his own demise. Such too is the result of empires that cannot effectively read and dominate social relations in the outreaches of their realm.


Martha Addante is a doctoral candidate at Western Michigan University in Michigan, USA where she is currently completing her dissertation, ‘Mapping the Global Landscape in Women’s Diasporic Writing,’ focusing on works by Zadie Smith, Jessica Hagedorn, and Michelle Cliff. Her areas of specialization include postcolonial literature and theory and women’s studies. Martha is currently teaching gender theory at Trent University in Ontario, Canada.



Kipling and Memorials to the War Dead

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Kipling’s childhood and background had an impact on his thinking as an adult. Born in Bombay soon after the Indian Mutiny, he was educated at a now defunct school in England intended to produce officers for the Army. A passionate Imperialist, his dream of military glory was defeated by his poor eyesight, a disability inherited by his son.

In 1917 after his son, John, was killed Rudyard was appointed a member of the Imperial War Graves Commission. He approved all, and composed many, of the epitaphs used by the Commission. He was also involved in many other memorials to the fallen. Rudyard and Carrie Kipling inspected many war cemeteries. Kipling was not a conventional Christian and one wonders if his religious views were perhaps the reason he was not asked to compose the epitaph for the Grave of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey.

Kipling’s most important intervention in the war memorial movement was persuading King George V to visit the war cemeteries in France and Belgium. It is widely believed Kipling wrote the King’s speech for his Pilgrimage to the war graves. I believe this speech may be counted as one of the greatest eulogies of all time, comparable to that of Lincoln at Gettysburg. Due to inaccuracies I am doubtful whether the speech was all Kipling’s work.

Kipling was undoubtedly a superb writer, but credit is also due for his great work for the Imperial War Graves Commission.


Michael Aidin is an amateur historian, fascinated by memorials commemorating those who lost their lives in war. After leaving university Michael became an accountant with work involving visits to many countries. On his travels he realised that war memorials all over the world were occasionally distinguished works of art, sometimes poignant, and often interesting footnotes to history and changing attitudes to war. Michael is currently writing an article for the Journal of the Kipling Society on Rudyard Kipling’s work on the Commemoration of the Dead of the Great War.



Ruddy and the Gods: the Young Kipling and Religion

Born into a Wesleyan family of parents who had rejected Christianity, Rudyard Kipling was introduced to a multiplicity of faiths in his first years in Bombay. On his return to India he found himself part of a community with luke-warm attitudes towards Christianity and was drawn towards the dominant religion of Lahore, which he celebrated in verse and prose as a masculine, explicit faith. When he moved from the Punjab into the ‘cow belt’ of the North-Western Provinces he lost no opportunity in his writing to compare Hinduism and Hindus unfavourably with Islam and Muslims. Soon after his return to England he set out his deist credo in a private letter.

A decade later, however, after suffering the loss of his firstborn and coming under the enlightened influence of his father, a very different religious persona began to take shape, manifesting itself in tales such as ‘The Bridge Builders’ and ‘The Miracle of Purun Bhagat’, and finding its most developed form in the writing of Kim, which begins as an aggressively masculine novel about a boy’s search for identity within a patriarchal framework but evolves quite unexpectedly as Kim rejects the models of Islam and Christianity represented by Mahbub Ali, Creighton Sahib and the European ministers of religion in favour of the inclusive, feminine and intuitive faiths of pre-Islamic India, as characterised by the supposedly effeminate Babu, the feeble Lama, and the two the mother figures of the Woman from Shamlegh and the Sahiba.


Born in India in the last years of the British Raj, Charles Allen is best known as a historian of the British impact on South Asia, with such publications as Plain Tales from the Raj; Soldier Sahibs; The Buddha and the Sahibs and, most recently, God’s Terrorists: The Wahhabi Cult and the Roots of Modern Jihad (2006). His latest book, Kipling Sahib: India and the Making of Rudyard Kipling, is a study of the impact on India on the young Rudyard Kipling, to be published in November 2007.


Università di Roma Tre


Kipling, the Historians, and Postcolonial Criticism

In my paper I suggest why the literary criticism informed by postcolonial theory should welcome three challenges posed by Kipling’s texts.

Sooner or later, postcolonial studies will have to engage in a cross-disciplinary debate with imperial historians such as Bernard Porter who question the existence of a hegemonic imperial ideology in Britain. When this happens, the privileged terrain for such a discussion will be Kipling’s repeated, and ultimately frustrated attempts to raise an imperial consciousness in a largely unresponsive British public.

The fundamentally dialogic nature of Kipling’s writings opens a space for rethinking how the assumption of a ‘typical’ British imperial mindset has been often used for exercises in reshaping the literary canon rather than for elucidating the historical and sociological contexts of colonial fiction. This is why Joseph Conrad and not Kipling has been so far the main testing ground for postcolonial theory. The selection of a Polish expatriate who never set a story in a British colonial territory – aside from a couple of scenes in Singapore’s Sailor’s Home – suggests that, perhaps unconsciously, the demolition of a Modernist icon was felt to be more urgent; another reason why Kipling has not figured so prominently, however, may well be that proving his typicality is in fact extremely difficult – which is why Edward Said’s magisterial 1987 introduction to Kim remains a testament to his intellectual honesty.

As a first contribution to the cross-disciplinary debate with imperial historians, literary criticism must help clarify the notion of ‘the Law’, which Kipling used to provide a moral basis for his imperial idea. Many are the painful ironies apparent in the differences and similarities between this early attempt at consensus-building conducted by a confirmed Gladstone-basher and the rhetorical strategies currently deployed in a global war on terror fought in the name of a liberal ‘imperialism of human rights’ or a ‘democratic imperialism’.


Richard Ambrosini is Professor of English Literature at the Faculty of Political Science of the Università di Roma III, has worked in the past mainly on Joseph Conrad (Conrad’s Fiction as Critical Discourse, Cambridge UP, 1991; Introduzione a Conrad. Laterza, Bari, 1991), and R. L. Stevenson (R. L. Stevenson: la poetica del romanzo, Bulzoni, 2001; Richard Ambrosini, Richard Dury, eds., Robert Louis Stevenson, Writer of Boundaries, U. of Wisconsin P., 2006). He has also written a little book on the pleasure of English poetry (Il piacere della poesia inglese, Cuem, Milano, 2000), and a number of essays on various authors, from Chaucer to Coleridge, through Shakespeare and William Cowper. His first essay on Kipling, ‘Lawbreaking ghosts of empire in Rudyard Kipling’s “The Man Who Would Be King”’, will appear in a collection to be published by les Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux.


University of Manchester e-mail:

Kipling among the Uranians

We associate Rudyard Kipling with a set of strongly held opinions, expressed with great clarity. But he attracted interest from some unexpected quarters. This paper addresses the response to Kipling by the so-called Uranian poets and writers, a particular sub-genre of male writers, usually interested in young members of their own sex, that straddles – like Kipling’s own career – the late Victorian and modernist periods. John Addington Symonds, the critic, poet and earliest of English campaigners for the rights of the homosexual, was strongly drawn to the young Kipling. Had the Empire found, Symonds appears to have wondered, a representation of soldiers like his friend Walt Whitman?

Symonds soon began to question this, though, finding too much ‘literary buckram’ in Kipling’s rank-and-file soldiers, and bemoaning a lack of ‘Cru’ in their representation. In the early twentieth century, a number of Uranian poets began to feel that celebrating Greek boys was somehow unpatriotic, and used Kipling to help provide a language for what was called the ‘New Chivalry’. In the hands of the prolific Rev Edwin Emmanuel Bradford this results in a rather surprising blend of muscular Christianity, nationalism and pederasty:


Is Boy-Love Greek? Far off across the seas
   The warm desire of Southern men may be:
But passion freshened by a Northern breeze
   Gains in male vigour and purity.
Our yearning tenderness for boys like these
Has more in it of Christ than Socrates.


This response to Kipling shows that some seem to have wondered about his sexuality in his own lifetime, something later taken up in Kipling criticism by Martin Seymour-Smith. And there are also broader implications for how we think about Kipling. For all the reputation for conservative politics and the emphatic statements, the writing creates spaces into which readers have projected their own wishes and desires. Just as film theorists have noted the importance of identification and fantasy for the audience of Hollywood film, so the study of Kipling needs similar approaches.


Howard J. Booth lectures in English Literature at the University of Manchester. He is the editor, with Nigel Rigby, of Modernism and Empire, and the author of many articles on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century writing and culture. Recent publications include the chapter on Maurice in The Cambridge Companion to E.M. Forster. Out next year from MUP is a collection of essays he has edited entitled New D.H. Lawrence.


University of Copenhagen, Denmark e-mail:

‘Little Children Crowned with Dust’: A Reading of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Story of Muhammad Din’

‘The Story of Muhammad Din’ (1886) epitomises the colonial experience of the British. The story opens with a question ‘Who is the happy man?’ And the answer is immediately provided: ‘He that sees, in his own house at home, little children crowned with dust, leaping and falling and crying.’ But the narrator in ‘The Story of Muhammad Din’ is clearly not very happy, he is not really ‘in his own house at home’ for he is an Anglo-Indian, literally a hybrid and an invader in a foreign land, and the little child crowned with dust that is leaping, falling and crying is not his own child, but that of his native servant. Throughout the story the opening question hovers in the background and sets a tone of unease.

This paper will demonstrate the complexity of Kipling’s short stories and of his projection of the coloniser and of the colonial ‘Other’. The paper will present a reading of ‘The Story of Muhammad Din’, focusing on the ‘literariness’ of the story, on the importance of the paratextual devices and of the story’s literary allusions and parallels to, amongst others, Dickens and Thomas Mann.


M.A. (in English literary studies), University of Durham, UK; Candidata Magisterii in English (major) and Latin (minor), University of Copenhagen (usually called a cand.mag. degree, it is similar to an M.A. plus a 2-year bachelor in a minor subject); until recently a Ph.D. student in the Department of English at the University of Copenhagen, still working on the thesis on Kipling’s early short stories, preliminary title is ‘Devious Discourse: Rudyard Kipling’s Early Short Stories’.


University of Leeds e-mail:

Blindness and the Idea of the Artist in Kipling and Ondaatje In Memoirs of the Blind: The Self-Portrait and Other Ruins, Jacques Derrida notes that the theme of ‘the drawings of the blind is, before all else, the hand’, the ‘of’ in that quotation conveying the dual senses of drawings about the blind and drawings by the blind. Derrida’s meticulously detailed readings of studies depicting blindness, attend to how the hand is positioned in each case and how, through its manner of manoeuvring and manipulating, is made to speak. ‘They all hold their hands out in front of them, their gesture oscillating in the void prehending, apprehending …’

In Derrida’s view it is the hand furthermore that connects the draughtsman/woman and the writer. For rooted as it is in memory and anticipation, and taking place in the space/time – ‘the void’ — between the observing and inscribing of the subject, the experience and its representation, the act of writing as of drawing can only figure forth the partiality of the artist’s own vision, his/her own blindness.

Borrowing from Derrida’s notions of ‘prehending, apprehending’, this paper explores the two facets of Kipling’s idea of the artist – as craftsman and as the instrument of a ‘Daemon’ — and their complex interworkings. The discussion focuses mainly on the short story ‘They’, its motifs of blindness, vision, hearing, and touch, and its subtle questing after the ways by which we may, from knowledge ‘given’ or seized upon, understand the pain and loss suffered in our lives.

A planned topic of the conference being Kipling’s literary descendants, this paper speaks also to Michael Ondaatje’s indebtedness to Kipling, with particular reference to Anil’s Ghost. It examines the ways in which, reworking the motifs of blindness, seeing, touch, and memory, Ondaatje grapples in the novel with the problematic of knowing in the face of the brutalities and uncertainties brought about by the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, and, linked to this, questions concerning the role of the post-colonial artist.


Shirley Chew is Emeritus Professor of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Leeds. She is the founding editor of Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings. Her work in progress includes the Blackwell History of Postcolonial Literature.


University of Kent

Kipling, policing India and the Uncanny The ten years preceding Kipling’s birth saw the transfer of administration of India from the East India Company to the Crown following the 1857 ‘Mutiny’, and the consolidation of this edifice with the establishment of a centralized, militarized police force throughout India in 1861. David Arnold argues that ‘[t]hrough the police it is possible to see institutionalized and enacted the priorities and principles of the colonial administration’. This is the case in a number of Kipling’s short stories set in India, where policing enables Kipling to explore the operations and limitations of that colonial administration. For Kipling such ideological structures often failed to penetrate ‘the lives of the peoples of the land – a life full of impossibilities and wonders’. Instead, ‘[o]ur rule […] affects [the natives’ lives] in no way whatever – only fences it around and prevents it from being disturbed.’

It is these impossibilities and wonders of India which interested Kipling – the alluring but potentially unsettling alterity of India, that which exists on the boundary of imperial knowledge and might destabilise the very systems of rationality upon which colonial bureaucracy was premised. Kipling’s writings on India frequently ventured into areas which were off-limits to colonial administration, although they avoided significantly undermining confidence in colonial hegemony. According to Benita Parry this crossing of ‘the frontiers drawn up by the imperial power’ also represented a means of policing such boundaries. Kipling explored frontiers through the figure of Strickland, who moved between the two worlds while maintaining the boundaries between them. Strickland is a colonial policeman who disregards conventions, as instead of following bureaucratic procedures, he successfully solves crime via the ‘outlandish custom of prying into native life’ thereby demonstrating the limitations of standard policing methods. However, when Strickland bends these colonial rules he also comes into contact with alternative forms of knowledge and has unsettling experiences. Such experiences can be read as encounters with the ‘uncanny’, where the apparently familiar becomes utterly alien (Fleete’s transformation into a beast), or what is seemingly strange transpires to be something long-known (Imray’s death occasioned by a treacherous servant).

This paper will explore the relationship between policing as (rationalist colonial discourse) and the uncanny in Kipling’s Indian short stories. It will consider how Kipling represents policing and India in his stories, and whether the uncanny is a disruptive effect in Kipling’s realization of India which must be policed in his fictions as well as evoked. Is it that by creating boundaries and borders Kipling posits the pre-condition for producing India as an uncanny alterity in his work?


Jo Collins teaches in the Cultural Studies and English and American Literature departments at the University of Kent at Canterbury. Her thesis examined the use of gothic tropes and the uncanny in colonial literature and travel writing, including the work of Kipling and Conan Doyle. She is currently co-editing a collection of essays called Uncanny Modernity: cultural theories, modern anxieties (forthcoming with Palgrave, 2008), and has published articles on colonial Australian women writers. Besides postcolonial theory, colonial literature, and the uncanny, her interests include cultural theory, sensation literature, modernity, gender and American literature.


Queen Mary, University of London

A Literary Descendant: Iris Murdoch’s ‘A Word Child’

One of Rudyard Kipling’s descendants is Iris Murdoch in her novel A WORD CHILD (1975). The narrator Hilary Burde, the word child of the title, in telling of his abused childhood clearly replicates the House of Desolation of Rudyard Kipling’s own childhood and of his autobiographical short story ‘Baa Baa, Black Sheep’. Kipling’s ‘Judy’ in that story is reproduced as Hilary’s younger sister Crystal, and Hilary finds a (qualified) redemption in words just as Kipling’s ‘Punch’ does. Hilary is emotionally fostered by stories of the empire, which supply him with a mother country if not a mother, and, more specifically, by Kipling’s story ‘Toomai of the Elephants’, which speaks both to Hilary’s loneliness and to his abiding conviction that animals are more loving than people. ‘Ancestors’ for Murdoch’s novel also include T.S.Eliot (specifically as author of THE WASTE LAND) and J.M.Barrie (specifically as author of PETER PAN). The crossdressing in Barrie’s play links with Murdoch’s use of crossover names, echoing Kipling’s naming of ‘William the Conqueror’, and the literary presence of both writers, like Kipling’s, reinforces Murdoch’s pessimistic vision.

University of Glasgow,

Kipling’s Other Empire: The Aerial Board of Control In Kipling’s work, there are two familiar and interrelated models of the globe. In one, it is riven by difference, not only between East and West but between those within and those without the Law. In the other, the British Empire is the unique presence that gives the world whatever coherence it may have. A third model appears in a pair of science fiction stories, ‘With the Night Mail’ (serial 1905, Actions and Reactions 1909), and ‘As Easy As ABC’ (serial 1912, A Diversity of Creatures 1917), in which the Earth is at peace, under the supreme international authority of the Aerial Board of Control, whose primary duty is to smooth the to and fro of passenger and cargo-carrying dirigibles.

The earlier story is a jeu d’esprit, an imaginary article from a magazine of the year 2000 taking as its given an international polity and culture shaped by aviation. ‘As Easy As ABC’, set 65 years later, is more oblique than its predecessor and, for all its emphasis on laughter as a purgative force, much darker.

The earlier piece presents a global culture at its confident height; the latter, a time of social entropy, fear, misgiving, and the reassertion of authority. Kipling himself saw ‘As Easy as ABC’ as a protest against the ‘incontinent peedle’ of democracy. As science fiction, these stories are thought experiments, contributions to debates about the future of aviation and of nationality, the power of science and technology to shape the world, the role of technocrats, and the stability of cultural and political institutions. Taken in postcolonial terms, they reflect the hopes and anxieties, the ambiguities and contradictions of imperial power in all its manifestations, from admiration for the work of empire to a fear of decadence, from the romance of global travel to the punitive raid.


Laurence Davies is Senior Research Fellow in English Literature at the University of Glasgow and Visiting Professor of Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. He is general editor of The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad; the eighth and ninth volumes, the last in the series, will appear later this year. He has co-authored a biography of Kipling’s contemporary (and ideological contrary) R. B. Cunnninghame Graham; among his other academic interests are utopian and dystopian fiction, science and literature, and the relation of oral to literary tradition.


University of Minnesota

Rethinking Race and Masculinity in Kipling’s Verse

The final lines of Kipling’s ‘Gunga Din’ are notorious: ‘Though I’ve belted you and flayed you, / By the livin’ Gawd that made you / You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!’ The speaker’s last line has rarely struck critics as anything better than cold comfort, an unconvincing compliment to a man he elsewhere describes as a half-naked heathen and a ‘squidgy-nosed old idol.’ The casual violence of those beatings and flayings and the glaring racism of such epithets, in other words, have kept us from taking seriously the possibility that the poem nevertheless actually holds up Din as model of superior manhood. My paper argues not only that we should take the last line seriously, but that the notion of ‘better manhood’ becomes in Kipling’s poetry the central problem of imperial identity, one that explicitly and repeatedly subordinates racial difference. I argue that is his idiosyncratic construction of imperial masculinity that we might find the enduring influence of his verse.

My presentation begins with an analysis of ‘Gunga Din’ and ends with a provocative re-reading of the ‘White Man’s Burden,’ and along the way I mention several other poems – both memorable and forgotten – which collectively give us a sense of Kipling’s imperial masculinity. I trace the emergence of his revision of masculine values against the particular historical and political context of late Victorian empire, especially his involvement with the Federation movement and the National Service League. While I do not intend to absolve Kipling from the charge of racism, I want to show that we need a more nuanced account of his ideology than the race-centered analyses that have prevailed among critics for the last two decades. I hope to demonstrate the overriding importance of a form of cosmopolitan masculinity at the center of the verse, and to encourage attention to Kipling’s poetry more generally as the most popular and influential expression of his imperial ideals.


Bradley Deane teaches nineteenth-century literature at the University of Minnesota, Morris. He is the author of The Making of the Victorian Novelist: Anxieties of Authorship in the Mass Market (Routledge, 2003). He is currently working on a study of masculinity and imperialism in late Victorian popular literature.


University of Modena and Reggio Emilia
e-mail: /

Women on the verge of a cultural breakdown. The case of Kipling’s ‘Lispeth’

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In this paper, I will address the issue of cultural crossing within Anglo-India at the time Rudyard Kipling was living and working in India. In particular, I will focus on one of his first short stories, ‘Lispeth’ (Plain Tales from the Hills, 1888), which depicts the relationship between an English woman and a young native girl, Lispeth, who is reared up by the English lady and her husband in a Christian mission in the Himalayas.

The English couple tries to wipe off any trace of the young girl’s pagan background and to substitute it for the more decent – according to their point of view – English socio-cultural heritage. In so doing, the girl is given an ambiguous social role, being ‘half servant and half companion’ to the woman.

Such a role is sufficient until Lispeth falls in love with a stranded Englishman. She wants to marry him, but her foster mother explains she cannot, as the man is English and must marry a girl of his own people. The Englishwoman is trying to keep the distance (both social and cultural) between Lispeth and the Englishman and, in a broader sense, between India and England – that is, between the colonized and the colonizers.

It is the aim of this paper to make clear how in this case the clash of civilizations lies in the way the two female characters interact and use the language to gain their point. The English lady, in order to have her subordinate forget about her true origins, resorts to lies and creates a relationship of false friendship. Lispeth, in her turn, rejects any links with the English culture she was nurtured with and slips back into her native, truer world, once she gets to know the real purport of her benefactress’ attempts.


Besides being a professional translator, Roberto Di Scala (1972) teaches English in the distance learning programmes of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. He holds a PhD in English Literature obtained from the University of Pisa with a dissertation on Kipling’s Plain Tales from the Hills. He is currently investigating the relationship between applied linguistics and e-learning.

Among his most recent publications, Bit by Bit. Computer English (2002), Ubi maior, minor cessat. Saggi sulla produzione minore di JRR Tolkien (2004) and ‘Acroos, and Astray. Leading the Sense in Translating Tolkien’s The Lay of the Children of Húrin’ (forthcoming).


University of Mainz, Germany

Kipling’s Concentric Selves

‘Half way between Marx and Sartre [Kipling] reveals the great human paradox that man can only exist in society which he alone can create out of his own precious store of selfhood.’ Alan Sandison.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Kipling experienced many changes in his personal life, including his 1902 move to Bateman’s in Sussex. During this important period, he produced some of his most penetrative and psychologically revealing works regarding the issues of identity, belonging, nationalism, and cultural inheritance. By focusing critically on the development of associated themes in Kim (1901) and Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906), I will present Kipling’s imperialism in light of Stuart Hall’s assertion that cultural identity is a ‘matter of “becoming” as well as of “being”.’ By viewing political ideology as a form of cultural and national identity, and by considering Kipling within the context of Sandison’s analysis, I will show the author to be a prescient forerunner of contemporary discussions of nationalism and identity. The layers of Kipling’s selfhood — his pile of concentric selves — shall be peeled away to reveal the scaffolding of a post-colonial hybrid in a colonial setting.


Amanda-Jane Eddleston received her bachelor’s degree in International Business from the University of Maryland and was awarded the Wall Street Journal Student Achievement Award for her year. She received her first M.A. in International Political Relations and her second in English Literature. In between, she studied Scottish literature at the University of Edinburgh. Currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Mainz, her thesis focuses on Kipling’s modernism and post-colonial modernity. She has been accepted as a visiting research student at the University of Sussex for spring 2008.


University of Salzburg

‘If Any Question Why He Died’: John Kipling and the Myth of the Great War’

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Ever since his body was (supposedly) identified in 1992, increasing attention has been paid to John Kipling, the Nobel-prize winner’s only son. His short military career and in particular his tragic death on the Western Front have been the topic of, amongst others, a historical study (cf. Holt/Holt 1998), a novel (Spillebeen 2005) and a successful theatre play (Haig 2004), soon to be turned into a film starring Daniel Radcliffe. These retellings of John’s life highlight his father’s strong influence on the young man and in particular on John’s decision to volunteer for the army – in spite of his deficient eyesight which would have excused him from fighting. In both the historical and the fictional accounts are Rudyard’s stories and their imperialist ideology made responsible for a death which could have been avoided and which Rudyard suffered for deeply.

This paper will argue that it is exactly this tragic irony which explains the continuing fascination for John Kipling, who in many ways epitomizes the myths still surrounding the Great War: this war, which is still prominent in British culture, is largely remembered as a futile conflict in which a generation of innocent young men, who had been brought up on ideals of heroism and chivalry, were slaughtered in the anonymous, mechanized battles of the Western Front. These casualties demonstrate the horrors of modern warfare as well as the futility of the militarist values the young men had been taught (cf. Hynes 1990). As the young, likable son of a famous author whose works helped to foster the militarist spirit so dominant before the Great War, John Kipling supports this memory of the conflict and serves to demonstrate the horrors of all modern wars.


Dr. Dorothea Flothow, M.A., studied English Literature and Modern History at the Universites of Tuebingen (Germany) and Reading (UK). While employed at the Sonderforschungsbereich ‘Kriegserfahrungen’, University of Tuebingen (a collaborative research centre on war experience, sponsored by the DFG – the German Research Community), she finished her PhD on war imagery in British children’s novels (1870 to 1939). She is currently working as a Post-Doc at the English Department of the University of Salzburg (Austria).


Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent

‘neither borne nor lost’: Kipling’s ‘They’ and the Edwardian Cult of Childhood

This paper discusses Kipling’s short story ‘They’ (1904) as reflective of the Edwardian cult of childhood and as expressive of a particularly Edwardian longing for children and childhood. Often seen as reflecting Kipling’s sense of bereavement after the death of his daughter Josephine or read as influenced by earlier supernatural fictions of childhood, such as Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, ‘They’ also epitomizes the Edwardian obsession with childhood which is most famously represented by Peter Pan (1904). For the Edwardians, childhood was a subject of deep concern and fascination, and ideas about children were part of the Zeitgeist in a way that had not been seen previously and would not endure in the same way after the outbreak of World War I. In particular, adult longing for childhood or for connection with children became a key literary theme. Frequently depicted in association with death, loss, the natural, the supernatural, and the spirit of play, adult longing to regain or be near the purity of childhood typically, as in Kipling’s story, reveals child characters existing in dimensions unreachable by adults. The childhood heard and glimpsed in ‘They’ is an idyllic English-country-house childhood of play, laughter and freedom, but it is also revealed as a world of spirits called back to the living through adult longing. This longing is that of characters like the first-person narrator who writes as one who has lost a child but who ultimately realizes that his lost child can never be regained. Even more powerfully, it is the longing of the blind woman Florence who ‘has neither borne nor lost,’ but who longs for children so acutely that the dead children of others come to her.


Adrienne E. Gavin is a Reader in English Literature at Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, UK where she specializes in Victorian Literature, Children’s Literature and Crime Fiction. She is author of Dark Horse: A Life of Anna Sewell (2004) and co-editor of Mystery in Children’s Literature: From the Rational to the Supernatural (2001). She is currently working on an edition of Caroline Clive’s Victorian crime novel Paul Ferroll and is co-editing with Andrew Humphries a collection of critical essays on Childhood in Edwardian Fiction.



The Five Nations: RK’s turning point

‘I’ve picked up with the Muses again and am doing and redoing and revising the new book of verses- … I am very happy to have the steam turned on again in that direction …’ RK to Charles Eliot Norton in a letter of 30 November-11 December 1902.

The engine of RK’s inner life had been stalled by the violent shocks it had received two years previously. Early in 1899 he had come up very close against death. The experience had a lasting effect on him, further weakening a delicate constitution and at the same time threatening to close down his inner life.

He had recovered from pneumonia only to learn, once he was judged well enough to bear the news, that his most precious child, Josephine, was dead and buried.

The impact of this loss has been under-rated, perhaps because such a young child- and a girl at that -was involved. But as his first child Josephine put him back in touch with the vivid self of his own childhood: furthermore, as a little girl, his beloved companion, she confirmed all that was tender and sensitive in him as a grown man.

The ‘new book of verses’ of which RK wrote to Norton was published in October 1903 under the title of The Five Nations. It has been read chiefly in terms that are political, with reference to the Boer War. Instead my talk will ask questions concerning the renewal in RK’s inner life as it took place in the context of those war-time years.

Taking five poems ‘Before a Midnight Breaks in Storm’, ‘Buddha at Kamakura’, ‘The Second Voyage’ ‘The Old Issue’ and ‘The Burial’ it will discuss RK’s choices in selecting the poems for this volume and in ordering them, while going on to offer an extended reading of ‘The Second Voyage’.


Mary Hamer taught at Cambridge before becoming a fellow of the , Wordsworth Poetry Library 1994, E.B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard. Her books include Writing by Numbers: Trollope’s Serial Fiction, Signs of Cleopatra, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Incest: A New Perspective. She is currently writing a novel about Rudyard Kipling.


Royal Holloway, University of London

Kipling and Masculinity: The Light That Failed

The paper considers the construction of masculinity in The Light That Failed in relation to homosociality, alternate models of masculinity and anxieties about women.


Robert Hampson is Professor of Modern Literature and Head of the Department of English at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is best known for his work on Conrad, including two monographs, Joseph Conrad: Betrayal and Identity and Cross-Cultural Encounters in Joseph Conrad’s Malay Fiction, as well as a collection of essays, Conrad and Theory, co-edited with Andrew Gibson. He has also written on Ford Madox Ford, and co-edited Ford Madox Ford: A Re-Appraisal (with Tony Davenport) and Ford Madox Ford and Modernity (with Max Saunders). He edited Something of Myself, Soldiers Three and In Black & White for Penguin – and has most recently edited Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines for them as well.


The College of Wooster, Ohio, USA

A Suitably Reserved Emotion

This paper will propose that the fit of their characteristic effect of wonder with the emotional regime of his first readers may help to explain the power of Rudyard Kipling’s early stories set in India (1884–90) — then and since — for European men and women engaged in imperial administration. In stories like ‘The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows’ and ‘In the House of Suddhoo’ (the story that introduced the narrator ‘I’), Kipling discovered ways of presenting events and characters as wondrous, inhibiting a reader’s more eudaimonistic responses, like pity and fear. The patina of wonder on nearly all of these early stories urges readers to see their events and characters first as profoundly unusual.

Several consequences are proposed. Anglo-Indian readers enjoyed having their lives presented as wonderful. Wonder’s distancing character fitted with their core belief that their world and work could not be understood by outsiders. The diffidence of wonder as a response to the other was congruent with the Anglo-Indian understanding of the Indian people as racially inferior. And wonder (as at an intricate drawing of the Wheel of Life) suited an emotional regime that discouraged the expression of strong feeling. As John Lockwood Kipling serenely remarked in 1876, ‘I altogether disbelieve that we should do any better work in India if we could lose the coolness, self-consciousness, self-respect, reserve, frigidity, and dullness with which we are so continually charged. Would a commissioner, for instance, be more useful . . . if instead of the qualities of an English gentleman he were endowed with the subtlety and suppleness of Juvenal’s Greek, the superficial expansiveness of a Frenchman, the pseudo-cosmopolitan instinct for knavery and intrigue, and the polyglot facility of a Levantine Dagoman? Some such combination of qualities might be very useful in certain positions, but the race possessing these sympathetic qualifications would hardly have won India, nor could it be trusted to rule it fairly.’

The paper’s preliminary sketch of the Anglo-Indian emotional regime (the term comes from William Reddy’s The Navigation of Feelings: A Framework for the History of Emotion) will be developed from Alfred Lyall’s letters to his family and from the gossip and comment characteristic of correspondents’ reports in Anglo-Indian newspapers.


A member of the English department at The College of Wooster in Ohio since 1971, Peter Havholm has published on the use of technology in the classroom and on Rudyard Kipling’s fiction. His book Politics and Awe in Rudyard Kipling’s Fiction will be published by Ashgate in December, 2007.


Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

Metatextuality in Kipling’s Short Fiction

In my paper, I propose to examine three of Kipling’s short stories that explicitly address the problem of story-telling and story-writing itself: ‘Dayspring Mishandled’ from Limits and Renewals, ‘Wireless’ from Traffics and Discoveries and ‘The Finest Story in the World’ from Many Inventions. ‘Wireless’ probes the secret of artistic creativity and manages to reconcile a belief in poetic inspiration with a rejection of the equally traditional notion of individual genius. Like ‘Wireless’, ‘Dayspring Mishandled’ chooses the poetry of the Romantic period as its point of reference, raising questions concerning literary fraud and artistic originality. Originality and conventionality also constitute the main issues in ‘The Finest Story in the World’, which makes use of the concept of reincarnation in order to present first-hand eyewitness accounts of historical events in a manner reminiscent of Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies. Time permitting, I would also like to examine metatextual elements in the frame narratives of some of Kipling’s ghostly tales, for instance ‘The Phantom Rickshaw’ and ‘My Own True Ghost Story’, which once again raise issues of literary convention and of reliability, of the relationship between fact and fiction.


Beatrix Hesse has studied and taught at the universities of Paderborn and Bamberg (Germany). Her PhD dissertation dealt with recurring patterns of communication in Shakespeare’s comedies, and her forthcoming second book (the German ‘Habilitationsschrift’) will be a study on the development of the English crime play in the twentieth century. Apart from that, she has published on several contemporary British dramatists and on various writers of prose fiction from the late 19th to the late 20th century. After teaching an extremely popular course on Rudyard Kipling this summer term she is now going to present her first academic paper on the author.


Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent.

‘I used to think seein’ and hearin’ was the only regulation aids to ascertainin’ facts’: The relationship between technology and the supernatural in Kipling’s Traffics and Discoveries.

This paper will focus on Kipling’s ambivalence towards a modern technology whose material certainty may be undermined by the spiritual questions it provokes. Discussion will focus on four stories from Traffics and Discoveries (1904) which expose this precarious Edwardian juxtaposition of confident technological advance with spiritual uncertainty. The discussion will focus on the ways ‘Steam Tactics,’ ‘They,’ ‘Wireless,’ and ‘Mrs Bathurst’ set out to promote technologies that go beyond mere functionality towards ethical status. Yet the everyday concern with scientific certainty in these tales startles Kipling’s narrative into confronting the unknown more disturbingly.

Kipling, like Wells, was impressed by locomotion. He owned and drove his own automobile round Britain and France. Two of the stories discussed begin with motor cars owned by the narrator and suggest Kipling’s seemingly assertive complicity with the newfangledness his narrative will challenge and expose.

His characters’ fascination with technology’s ability to reduce distance, either with motor-cars, the wireless or the cinematograph, betrays them into a deeper sense of the supernatural and the unexplained, which is more powerful because of the narrator’s own apparent trust in the finality of the empirical world technology represents. Pyecroft claims in ‘Mrs Bathurst’: ‘I used to think seein’ and hearin’ was the only regulation aids to ascertainin’ facts, but as we get older we get more accomodatin’. The cylinders work easier, I suppose’ (Traffics 273-4). In talking about the ability of the cinematograph to cross boundaries and conquer distances, making us see and believe things not really there, Pyecroft is expressing the impact of technology on consciousness which rather than confirm the realities of the known world serves to distort it further.


Andrew Humphries is a Senior Lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University where he is a programme leader for PGCE English Secondary and also teaches PGCE Primary English. He lectures on a variety of English topics including Shakespeare, Drama and Literature. He has an MA from Cambridge University and is currently working on a PhD entitled ‘Transport and Mobility: The Role of Travel Technology in the Major Novels of D.H. Lawrence.’ In July 2006 he presented a paper at the University of Hertfordshire Conference ‘The Edwardians’ on ‘Transport and Transition in D.H. Lawrence’s The White Peacock.’ He has worked as a Head of English and Head of Drama in secondary schools and as a primary English coordinator before coming to Canterbury in 2003. He is currently co-editing and contributing to a collection of critical essays titled Childhood in Edwardian Fiction.


Linacre College, Oxford

What Was Kipling Doing on 17 July 1897? On Saturday 17 July 1897 The Times printed a letter from the Queen to her people thanking them for the tributes paid her in the celebrations of her Diamond Jubilee. Beneath that letter was a poem by the man who (as the leading article put it) ‘more perhaps than any other living man, has been identified with pride of Empire and with confidence in the destinies of our race’. The leader which introduced these two texts thus presented Kipling as a poet with the authority to address the nation, and to warn it — who better to warn it? — of the dangers of the pride and confidence with which he himself was so identified: ‘we need, all of us, the warning words of the seer and the bard — ‘Lest we forget — lest we forget!’. What must not be forgotten — the ‘lesson’ taught by the poem — was ‘that there is a spiritual as well as a material side to national greatness’. The Times, then, knew what Kipling was doing in writing ‘Recessional’. We all know what Kipling was doing on 17 July 1897. And yet, in this paper, I argue that to conceive of the poem’s work only in terms of admonition is far from adequate.

To ask what Kipling was doing in writing this poem is, of course, to invoke the concept of the performativity of language: writers not only say things with words, but (as J. L. Austin put it) they do things with words. For instance: they warn. It is a concept, taken from mid-twentieth-century linguistic philosophy, which has been widely used in literary studies. But it may be that a renewed attention to ‘Recessional’ — a poem that would become, as it was for T. S. Eliot in 1941, ‘almost too well known to need to have the reader’s attention called to it’ — may make us aware not only of the complexity of Kipling’s understanding of British imperialism, but of an inadequacy widespread in accounts of the work done by literary texts.


Simon Humphries is currently working on an edition of Christina Rossetti for OUP, and on a critical study. His essays on Gerard Hopkins have appeared in Victorian Poetry and in the TLS; essays on Christina Rossetti are appearing this year in Victorian Poetry and in the Review of English Studies. He is a member of Linacre College, Oxford.


Queen Mary, University of London

Behind Asian Eyes: Kipling’s Indian Soldiers and British Propaganda of the First World War

This paper will explore Rudyard Kipling’s relationship to British Propaganda during the First World War, paying particular attention to his book The Eyes of Asia (1917). This set of four stories recounts the experiences of four Indian soldiers writing home and was compiled from censored letter extracts from Indian soldiers. They were first printed in America and though also published in a British magazine, there was no British publication of the stories in book form for nearly twenty years when they were collected in the posthumous Sussex Edition. An internal government memo titled ‘Propaganda’ (dated November 11, 1917; sent from Sir E. Carson to Kipling on the 14th) bemoans the need for the English Government ‘to make capital out of military achievements in the East’ to make the neutral world, ‘especially the Americans’ realize our ‘efforts and successes’. These campaigns are ‘one of the greatest dramatic things in history’ but ‘a great historic drama requires a great writer’, and of course the writer who had an enthusiastic appreciation of ‘all that is best in the British character and of the strong sides of our Imperial system’ was Rudyard Kipling. Kipling didn’t ultimately take up the project of visiting the fronts in Egypt, Palestine, and Mesopotamia, as is suggested in the memo, but a few months earlier he did write a book that did obliquely and partly satisfy the memo’s request of portraying the wonderful combination of forces. Indian subject races fighting far from their homes along with our own troops – the most wonderful epitome of the strength of the Empire.

The Eyes of Asia was a set of four ‘stories’ from May 1917 where Kipling took on the voices of different Indian soldiers writing home. While the stories are inventions, they were influenced by Kipling’s access to censored letters from Indian soldiers. In this paper I will be situating Kipling’s relationship to British propaganda during the First World War and analyzing how The Eyes of Asia related to his other fiction and non-fiction of the war periods. I will also be examining how Kipling re-crafted the censored materials of Indian soldiers’ letters to produce these stories. The Eyes of Asia provides some insight into Kipling’s other war writing and his relationship to the war in general.


Anurag Jain is a final year PhD research student at Queen Mary, University of London. His Project is entitled ‘ “When Art Put on Khaki and Went into Action”: Ford, Kipling, Conan Doyle, Wells and British Propaganda of the First World War’.


Royal Holloway

Centre and Periphery: Panoramic Visuality in Kim and The Impressionist

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This paper seeks to show how a Victorian popular medium of entertainment is a fundamental part of Rudyard Kipling’s Kim. Kim is considered a definitive work of fiction about the British Empire, because it gives imaginative form to quintessential British ideas about India. Kipling makes India exhilaratingly exotic, yet reassuringly familiar at the same time. It is my argument that part of this feat is achieved through the use of a mode of representation that was well-known to a nineteenth-century readership: the panorama and its off-springs. This popular pictorial phenomenon was a major cultural presence in nineteenth-century Britain and the rest of the Western world. It showed views of English and Oriental towns and landscapes and was a part of theatrical performances, fictional writings, scientific documentation, fairground and home-entertainment. However, the most interesting thing about the panorama is not its subject-matter, but how it conditioned the gaze of not just its immediate audience but of nineteenth- and especially Victorian society, a gaze that is closely linked to notions central to imperialism and modernity. Panoramic spectacle and structuring are also part of The Impressionist written by Hari Kunzru, one of Kipling’s literary descendants. The story is a postmodern re-writing of Kim that uses Kipling’s novel as an enchanted mirror. The Impressionist traverses many motifs related to spectacle, performance, and issues of identity and self-perception arising from the centred gaze of imperialism. In this peregrination, Kunzru takes the modernist ending in Kim to a postmodernist extreme.


Charlotte Jorgensen is a PhD candidate at Royal Holloway in the departments of Drama & Theatre and English. Her area of research is three imperial coronation ceremonies in a postcolonial and performative context. These durbars took place in India during the British Raj and were an amalgamation of ritual and theatre, of notions of feudalism and orientalism. These events developed during a time which also saw the rise of the Olympic Games, and as performances they contribute to our understanding of modern identity and subjectivity.


University of Sheffield

“Tin Fish”: two texts, two readings

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Rudyard Kipling’s eight-line poem was first published in an article in the Daily Telegraph in 1915, one of a series collected the following year in Sea Warfare. ‘Tin Fish’ was not published as a separate poem until after Kipling’s death. My paper will consider the poem in both these contexts. I will argue that its supreme technical accomplishment (fully comparable to that of the more famous Epitaphs) holds in play an unstable compound of responses to war, and to this particular form of war.


Daniel Karlin is Professor of English at the University of Sheffield. His previous appointments were at Boston University and University College London. He edited The Jungle Books for Penguin Classics and the Oxford Authors volume of Kipling’s stories and poems, and has published a number of essays on Kipling in journals and books, most recently the Oxford Handbook of British and Irish War Poetry.


Warmia and Mazury University

On the borderland between two epochs. Autothematic issues in Rudyard Kipling’s short stories

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The purpose of the paper is to explore those aspects of Rudyard Kipling’s short stories which foreshadow the tendencies present in the fully developed Modernist fiction, usually associated with such writers as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster and others.

The thematic motif that runs through the majority of Kipling’s prose works is the theme of creation in a broad sense of this world – that is as changing reality in its material or non-material aspect. The latter comprises also artistic creation, the characters either being artists or writers themselves, or making art the object of their observation and comments. The individual, unique aspect of creation is recognized in Kipling’s short stories as the basis for identifying the artist with his work. The theme is reiterated on another textual level, as referring to the stories themselves, their organization, the role of the reader and the process of communication the texts are involved in. By playing with the readers’ expectations (for example referring to the conventional patterns, never fully realized in the text) Kipling provokes his readers to participate actively and consciously in the process of communication, to reject the cultural and literary stereotypes, to concentrate not only on what the story is about, but also on how it is made. Being still rooted in the Victorian fiction (as the traditional themes are never eliminated), Kipling’s stories in many ways (to be discussed more thoroughly in the paper) refer to those tendencies which will become the hallmark of the later Modernist fiction.


Joanna Kokot is Professor of English literature at Warmia and Mazury University in Olsztyn.My field of research comprises English literature at the turn of the 19th century, especially the so-called popular literature (horror literature, detective fiction). Some of my publications concern the literary output of J.R.R. Tolkien, too; I am also a translator of a few scholarly works devoted to this writer. More important of my studies are Tekst w tekscie (Text within text, 1992), Gry z czytelnikiem w nowelistyce Rudyarda Kiplinga (Plays with the reader in Rudyard Kipling’s short stories, 1993), Kronikarz z Baker Street. Strategie narracyjne w utworach Conan Doyle’a o Sherlocku Holmesie (The Baker Street chronicler. Narrative strategies in the Sherlock Holmes tales by Arthur Conan Doyle, 1999), ‘This Rough Magic’. Studies in Popular Literature (2004). I am currently working on the turn-of-the-century horror fiction (Stoker, Machen, Blackwood, M.R.James and others).

Wheaton College, University of Georgia

Kim Is an American Novel; No, Kim Is an African Novel

Kipling’s Kim is comfortable in the company of just about anybody, from the woman from Kulu to Colonel Creighton to Mahbub Ali. Kim the novel, too, rubs shoulders with a wide range of texts; and it, too, shifts according to its companions. As children’s literature it joins with the Jungle Books, Just So Stories, or Stalky and Co.; as a ‘tale of India,’ with Plain Tales from the Hills or Mine Own People. Taught in history, religion, and interdisciplinary imperial or postcolonial studies courses, Kim assumes one form; read as a literature text, alongside the likes of Heart of Darkness; The Wretched of the Earth; Daniel Deronda; Midnight’s Children; Dubliners; Gora; or the poetry of, say, Swinburne, Tennyson, or Elizabeth Barrett Browning, it takes on others.

Our recent compilation of a new, historically contextualized edition of Kim will serve as the focal point for a larger discussion of the current challenges of positioning Kim in mixed company. A highly charged 2500-word excerpt from the manuscript helps us to locate Kim in new national contexts as well. One reading of the excerpt reveals Kim’s origins and affinities across the Atlantic, while another reading of the same passage shows that the novel reaches not toward America but toward South Africa. Children’s literature or adult, colonial literature or anti-colonial, Kim is certainly international literature – while it is, of course, national literature. But of what nation?


Paula M. Krebs is a professor of English at Wheaton College, in Massachusetts. She is the author of Gender, Race, and the Writing of Empire: Public Discourse and the Boer War (Cambridge UP, 1999) and of articles on Olive Schreiner, the Boer War concentration camps, Wuthering Heights, and other topics in Victorian literature and culture.

Tricia Lootens, a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at the University of Georgia, is the author of Lost Saints: Silence, Gender and Victorian Literary Canonization (University Press of Virginia, 1996.) Her publications include work on nineteenth-century Romantic and Victorian women’s poetry, patriotic poetry, and the gothic.


University of Bristol

Kipling’s Literary Traffics and Scientific Discoveries: ‘Wireless’

This paper is a companion piece to a previous article on ‘Mrs Bathurst’ and film. In that article, I argued that Kipling engaged with Shakespeare’s Hamlet through the new medium of film – giving Vickery a cellulose ghost – as part of an exploration of the impact of new media on the literary canon. In this paper, I argue that ‘Wireless’ sees Kipling using a Marconi experiment to think about the nature of literary creativity, as we are shown John Shaynor, the chemist’s assistant, struggling to rewrite ‘The Eve of St Agnes’ and ‘Ode to a Nightingale’.

Kipling, in typical fashion, does not commit himself to a single analogy. Instead, as well as the analogy of the wireless, and in especial, its coherer, Kipling brings into play a variety of models of creativity. So, for example, ‘Wireless’ may be seen as a rewriting of ‘Kubla Khan’; a republishing of Keats’ Poems; an engagement with the otherworlds of the spiritualists; and, most typically of all, a hoax practised upon the narrator.

Through this argument, I hope to show, first, that at the heart of ‘Wireless’ there lies a literary engagement with Keats and Romantic writing, the complexity and literary intelligence of which has not been fully appreciated; second, that Kipling takes Keats’ poetry as the story’s subject as he is attracted by the poet’s own materialist explanations of creativity; and, third, that Kipling offers, through the construction of a remarkable web of literary allusions, a textual image of cultural transmission – which image is of greater interest to him and his story, finally, than the Marconi experiments in the back of the shop.


John Lee lectures at the University of Bristol, having recently returned from ICU, Tokyo. He is still missing the Burwash edition which ICU’s library kindly bought. He works mainly in the area of English Renaissance literature, but has also become interested in Kipling. One product of this was an article on Hamlet and ‘Mrs Bathurst’, published in The Kipling Journal.


University of Kent

The finest stories in the world told by Kipling and Joyce…

I intend to discuss interrelations between Kipling and Joyce’s work in order to demonstrate, on the one hand stylistic affinities and on the other their counter-impinging political stances.

In 1907, while struggling to publish Dubliners, Joyce read Plain Tales from the Hills and declared: ‘after all, there must be some merit in my writing . . . If I knew Ireland as well as R.K. seems to know India I fancy I could write something good’. Kipling’s depiction of India in its geopolitical context, and his astute deployment of folklore and vernacular of both the subjugated people and the imperial soldiers, most of them Irish, relate to Joyce’s strategies in Dubliners, where Dublin under the Crown is depicted in a ‘style of scrupulous meanness’.

Both writers were from the periphery of the Empire and ambitious about recognition from the metropolis. They admired the quotidian, and music hall culture, and harnessed casual linguistic inventiveness in their work — but in different ways. Kipling glorified (but did not sentimentalise) the Cockney soldier, and propagandised for Joseph Chamberlain’s imperial policies and was scathing of the Irish Home Rule. Hence, Joyce’s assessment that Kipling, though he had one of ‘the greatest natural talents… he did not fulfil that promise’ owing to ‘semi-fanatic ideas…about patriotism.’

Joyce in his work acutely mapped out the proliferation of dialects and languages in order to subvert the dominant British cultural imperialism. In 1926 Edmund Wilson recognised Kipling as the stylistic precursor of the ‘Cyclops’ episode of Ulysses. Joyce’s recurrent use of ‘The Absent-Minded Beggar’ (in an Irish pro-Boer context) and ‘Mandalay’ in the finale of ‘Oxen of the Sun’ (U 14.1496) as well as in Finnegans Wake (FW 577.24), indicate an abiding interest in his aesthetics and politics.


Eleni Loukopoulou (BA National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, MA Birkbeck University of London) Current research student at the School of English, University of Kent. Research project: the geopolitical significance of London and Zürich in James Joyce’s work.


University of St. Andrews

The Light of Asia and the Law of the Jungle
My paper will consider the Law of The Jungle Books in relation to early literary influences on Kipling. The critics Shamsul Islam and William Dillingham have briefly discussed Buddhism in Kipling’s writing; my paper will engage with his youthful interest in the subject using sources such as Sir Edwin Arnold’s poem ‘The Light of Asia’ and Buddhist birth stories to reveal how an Anglicised understanding of Buddhism shapes his idea of the Law he creates for the jungle. I will argue that this previously unexplored aspect of the jungle’s Law is essential to a better understanding of Kipling’s highly personal conception of law and order.


Erin Louttit is reading for her doctorate part-time at the University of St. Andrews on the topic of Kipling and spirituality. Her research interests are wide-ranging within Victorian literature and culture, and she has recently contributed to the forthcoming Oxford Companion to the Book.


University of Kent

‘All Art is One’: Kipling and Neo-Romanticism

‘All art is one’ was the motto of the filmmaker, Michael Powell, best-known for such Neo-Romantic offerings as A Canterbury Tale (1944) and A Matter of Life and Death (1946). Powell derived his maxim from Rudyard Kipling’s Rewards and Fairies (1910). This paper will explore Kipling’s influence on the Neo-Romantic movement, in particular, his observation of the Sussex countryside as a ‘most marvellous and foreign place’.

Kipling’s response to England has been read in conjunction with the natural mysticism of Edwardian writers such as E.M. Forster. While this reading is entirely valid, it tends to compartmentalise the Edwardian period and to characterise the era as reactionary or nostalgic. Neo-Romanticism, too, is often regarded as backward-looking rather than a radical synthesis of the European avant-garde with an English rural tradition. By acknowledging Neo-Romanticism’s debt to writers such as Kipling, it is possible to both establish a sense of continuity, often glossed by the impact of Modernism, and to rethink the radicalism of Kipling’s own position.

In particular, while the aesthetics of Bloomsbury emphasised form at the expense of content, Kipling (pace John Ruskin) sought to look at England again with an innocent eye. Instead of a rose-tinted version of England, Kipling’s vision is not only magical but also disturbing (‘They’, ‘The House Surgeon’, ‘The Dog Hervey’, ‘Mary Postgate’). In seeking an artistic integration of the rational and the irrational, Kipling presents an image of England as estranged from its imperialistic connotations as ‘the mother country’. Kipling’s England is not only alienated – in the modernist sense of critical introspection – but reinvented through an encounter with a mystical and occult past. For Neo-Romantic writers and artists, working against the backdrop of World War Two, Kipling offered an influential model for rethinking the future of the nation-state.


Dr Paul March-Russell teaches English and Comparative Literature at the University of Kent. He is the author of The Short Story: An Introduction (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming) and co-editor with Carmen Casaliggi of Ruskin in Perspective (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, in press). Other recent and forthcoming publications include an introduction to May Sinclair’s Uncanny Stories (Wordsworth Editions, 2006), articles on Joseph Conrad, J.G. Ballard, Mina Loy and Joanna Russ, and an essay in Childhood in Edwardian Fiction, eds. Adrienne Gavin and Andrew Humphries (under proposal). His paper on Kipling and Neo-Romanticism forms part of his current research project with Oxford University Press.


University of Kent

Being a Man

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As with all conscious identities, the idea of manhood always implies the existence of its opposite: masculinity is defined against the feminine and/or the unmanly, which may exist in oneself as well as the outside world. Thus the ideal – or fantasy – of the White Man defined itself not only against the unruly natives ‘half devil and half child’ but against the subject’s own unmanly weakness and potential vulnerability. Conversely, man as the universal subject is defined against the inhuman and/or the bestial. So Mowgli in the Jungle Books is rejected by the wolves whom he regards as his brothers for being a man, but then finds that his humanity gives him power over the beasts to become ‘Master of the Jungle’ – at least until puberty compels him to leave it.

This paper argues that the Kipling’s ideal of ‘being a man’ is explored more interestingly and subtly in Mowgli’s relationships with animals than in the better-known celebrations of imperial masculinity which invariably turn out to depend on the subjection of a racial and class inferior. Thus, the ‘Ballad of East and West’ celebrates the equality ‘when two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth’ – but their equality implicitly privileges the Englishman.

Conversely, Mowgli in the Jungle Books thinks of himself as a wolf, but none of the other animals ever forgets that he is a ‘Man’. Mowgli possesses the human intelligence, ingenuity and aggression that enables him to allow his friends the wild animals to colonize what was a human settlement in ‘Letting In the Jungle’ and to lead the wolf-pack to their costly victory over the invading ‘Red Dogs’ – neither of which would have happened without his leadership. Yet Mowgli’s humanity makes him both more fallible, and more complex and vulnerable than the instinctual animals who love by the ‘Law of the Jungle’.


Dr Jan Montefiore is Reader in English Literature at the University of Kent where she has taught since 1978. She has a long-standing interest in Kipling who was the subject of her first published article, ‘Day and Night in Kipling’ (1977). Her books include Feminism and Poetry (1987,2004) Men and Women Writers of the 1930s (1996) and most recently Rudyard Kipling (Northcote House 2007).


University of Kent

Quotations and Boundaries: Stalky & Co.

In Stalky & Co., reading and quoting constitute an important part of schooling in the United Services College, which leads to the boys’ success as colonisers in the near future. The boys learn to perform scripts and to improvise roles and strategies through the play of quotations. This paper seeks to characterise the coloniser’s encounter with non-western cultures, not as hybridisation, but as ‘quotation’. It argues that Kipling’s imperial boys were intended to be the masters of quotations, who are quick to identify cultural hybrids and to safeguard the colonial borders.


Dr Kaori Nagai is the author of Empire of Analogies: Kipling, Ireland and India (Cork University Press, 2006), and currently holds a Leverhulme Research Fellowship at the University of Kent.


St Peter’s College, University of Oxford

Kipling & Surtees: Exotic Englands, Familiar Indias

My paper examines Kipling’s invocation of the English humorist Robert Surtees as a means through which to construct both rural England and colonial India as imagined landscapes of both alienation and understanding. Stories such as ‘My Son’s Wife’ represent Surtees’ comic depictions of rural English sporting life as forms of anthropological studies, offering the allure of seemingly exotic knowledge to the jaded newcomer. This use of older, early nineteenth-century texts, which even when written themselves evoked an essentially eighteenth-century world, links with other stories reflecting Kipling’s fascination with the English countryside as the repository of ancient histories and long-standing patterns of life. At the same time, in ‘The Little Foxes’, Surtees becomes a model through which Indian landscapes can be simultaneously familiarised and made strange, and thus be written into these narratives of English rural life. Surtees’ depictions of fox-hunting become a trope through which fantasies of power, control and knowledge can be implemented in Kipling’s text, which uses Surtees’ quasi-feudalised world to set up a collision between older and newer ways of understanding imperial rule. Yet Kipling’s re-writing of Surtees is marked by a constant awareness that this is a world out of time and even out of place, an imagined comic landscape which has no real place in modern society. Indeed, it is the old-fashionedness of Surtees’ works that make them so valuable to Kipling, whose work ultimately suggests an all-too-painful awareness of the limitations of his imagined Englands and Indias.


Muireann O’Cinneide is a Lecturer in English at St Peter’s College, University of Oxford. Her research interests centre on women’s writing, class, and empire, particularly travel literature. She has a forthcoming book with Palgrave called Aristocratic Women and the Literary Nation, 1832-1867, which considers the role played by aristocratic women in mid-Victorian literature and culture.


Canterbury Christ Church

‘ain’t goin’ to have any beastly Erickin’: the problem of male friendship in Stalky & Co.

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Schoolboy friendship was key to representations of middle class masculinity throughout the nineteenth century, but by the 1890s writers in this genre were forced to distance themselves from the emotionalism of mid-century texts such as Coningsby or Tom Brown’s Schooldays. In Kipling’s Stalky & Co the protagonists’ condemnation of earlier models of friendship, exemplified by Farrar’s Eric, is specifically related to their intolerance of homosexual acts. In presenting an intimate relationship between boys, Kipling employs a variety of strategies to preserve their status as ‘pure’: like Dickens in David Copperfield, he stresses the naivety of the first person narrator, who is unaware of the significance of what he sees; he further diffuses the threat of intense friendship by creating a group of three rather than a pair; meanwhile the school is discreetly but ceaselessly patrolled by the masters. The problem for male friendship in the stories is to establish its power and influence without presenting it as erotic or unregulated. As Kipling struggles to maintain this balance, he is forced to treat the underlying sexual threat more explicitly than his precursors. In the final story Stalky is recast as ‘the great man of his century’ – a process that completes his transformation from dangerously personal friend to accessible public myth.


I am a Senior Lecturer in English at Canterbury Christ Church University. Publications include Literature and Religion in Mid-Victorian England: from Dickens to Eliot (Palgrave Macmillan 2002) and Romantic Friendship in Victorian Literature (Ashgate 2007). My current research is for the first biography of the New Woman writer Mary Cholmondeley. My third collection of poetry, Warned Against Unnecessary Journeys, will be published by bluechrome in 2007.


George Washington University

How ‘The White Man’s Burden’ Lost its Scare Quotes; Or Kipling, Madness, and the New American Empire

This paper considers the implications of the resurgent unironic popularity of Kipling’s ‘The White Man’s Burden’ among British and American political scientists, historians, journalists, and pundits after 9/11. After demonstrating how Kipling’s work has been used, largely by neo-cons, to dignify a new American imperial project, I offer a further interrogation of the imperial ‘burdens’ Kipling assumes to be the concomitant of imperial responsibility: denial of democracy, insanity, fear, and tragic self-presentation.


Judith Plotz, Professor of English at George Washington University, has published widely on Kipling, 19th-century children’s literature, and romanticism. Her most recent book is Romanticism and the Vocation of Childhood. She is now working on a book tentatively titled Kipling and the Little Traditions: Gender, Children’s Literature, and Modernism.




The New Readers’ Guide

Reginald Harbord and a team of over forty contributors from the Kipling Society produced the original Readers’ Guide to Rudyard Kipling’s Work between 1961 and 1972. The eight volumes, totaling over four thousand pages, were designed to be a resource for members and general readers. For the prose, and some of the verse, there were notes on publication history, on the background to the text, and extensive annotation.

However, because the Guide was published privately, and in an edition of about one hundred, relatively few readers actually have access to the set. Moreover, another forty years have passed since the first volumes of the Guide were written, scholarship has moved on, new material about Kipling’s life has come to light, many new books on him have been published, and some of the judgements and references made in the 1960s now seem outdated. The Society has therefore embarked on the massive task of producing a new Readers’ Guide, drawing on the old, but taking advantage of the insights and knowledge of scholars and enthusiasts since Harbord’s day.

We believe that the new Guide should be useful and attractive not only to the serious Kipling scholar, but to a wider public of Kipling readers. We are publishing it on the World Wide Web, which makes it possible to avoid heavy printing costs, to make the Guide readily available throughout the world, to publish in stages as and when sections are produced, to keep it continuously up to date from month to month and year to year, and to make the new Guide – in effect – a continuing process of dialogue rather than a once-for-all publication. The Guide has been selected by the British Library for archiving, as an example of ‘on-line literary analysis and annotation’.

The presentation for the Conference will include demonstration of the web site, discussion of constraints and opportunities, and a more general examination of the future of web-based reference sources.


John Radcliffe is a former Chairman of the Council of the Kipling Society, and General Editor of the New Readers’ Guide. John Walker is the Librarian of the Kipling Library, and Poetry Editor for the New Readers’ Guide.


Université de Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle

‘He led them on and on, through a maze of back-kitchens, dairies, larders, and sculleries, that melted along covered ways into a farmhouse’ : finding one’s way through Actions and Reactions.

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Most of Kipling’s short stories first appeared separately in newspapers. However, he also gathered them in collections entitled differently from any of the stories included: this questions the initial assumption that each story is purely independent.

Kipling indeed invented a very specific way of organising a collection. His readers became used to the way he leads – or loses – them through this type of structure, which aims at the same time at isolating each story in its peculiar world and at creating echoes, structural similarities and links. Actions and Reactions is a typical example of this type of collection. An apparently thematic title tops up eight very dissimilar stories, including the science fiction story ‘With the Night Mail’ but also the ghost/detective story ‘The House Surgeon’. Despite a first impression of disjunction, the reader feels that the collection is more than a mere juxtaposition. The collection both associates and dissociates the individual stories, in particular thanks to the poems, which can be interpreted either as a means of separating the stories or as bridges that open each story onto the rest of the collection. The modern motifs of the mosaic and the network are often used by Kipling critics, such as Sandra Kemp or Nicholas Daly, and here they are materially operative.

I want to question the status of this collection and to define the reading experience created by its composition. The order of the stories and the alternation of prose and poetry are perceived visually at first, but they also produce effects resembling those of musical variations: the same theme is seen from a different perspective, which leads to hesitations and modulations. While Kipling may appear quite assumptive in some stories, unearthing such structural workings in the collection can lead to a re-evaluation of the narrative stance.


Élodie Raimbault, agrégée in English and a recent member of the Kipling Society, is currently teaching at the Université de Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle and writing a PhD thesis entitled ‘Figures de l’espace et de la frontière dans la fiction de Rudyard Kipling’ (Space and Boundary Figures in Rudyard Kipling’s Fiction) under the supervision of Prof. Jean-Pierre Naugrette.



Kipling and the Bibliographers

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Kipling’s sense of integrity as a writer demanded that he rigorously control his canon, suppressing juvenilia, journalism, and ephemera, and limit the literary record to his self-selected ‘collected’ works. This defining authorial attitude is best understood through reviewing his career-long colloquy with his bibliographers. Before Kipling’s death in 1936, his body of work had already been the subject of four major catalogues (by Martindell, Livingston, Chandler, and Ballard), and all as his admirers respectfully sought his help in identifying unsigned work, but he consistently refused.

Although he could easily have supplied the information they sought, Kipling rebuffed their queries, evidently preferring to see the proliferation of error rather than admit, by his participation, the legitimacy of the effort to identify his unacknowledged writings. He also pressured these bibliographers to omit listing unauthorized editions, to deny them legitimacy for collectors. The objection was not merely commercial: when pirates published his uncollected journalism, he excoriated his own work, in accusing them of depriving him of ‘the (almost) inalienable human (literary) right of decently burying my own dead.’ When his fame ensured that early holograph material, some composed for private presentation, but others for public occasions, appeared for sale at auction, he privately expressed shock and pain at the consignments, as personal betrayals. When donating his manuscripts to libraries around the world, he and Carrie insisted that they ‘not be used for purposes of collation’—never compared, by bibliographers or other literary scholars, against the public works as printed. All these actions embodied his view, expressed n his posthumously published poem ‘The Appeal’, that ‘the books [he] left behind’ should be accepted as his final literary statement, and that nothing Kipling himself had not titled, edited, and collected should be recalled, studied, or celebrated. The bibliographers, like the pirates, prevailed.


DAVID ALAN RICHARDS is a property lawyer with the law firm of McCarter & English LLP in New York City. He is Secretary of the Grolier Club of New York, a Vice President of the Kipling Society, and serves on visiting committees at the Morgan Library & Museum and the Yale University Library. His published work about Kipling includes Rudyard Kipling: The Books I Leave Behind (New Haven and London: 2007); Kipling and His First Publisher (High Wycombe: 2001); and ‘Kipling and the Pirates’ (Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, Vol. 96: I, March 2002). In 2008, his bibliography of Rudyard Kipling, the first in fifty years, will be published by Oak Knoll Press and the British Library, He is the former chair of both the Real Property Section of the American Bar Association, and of the Anglo-American Real Property Institute.


Victoria University of Wellington

The Kiplingisation of Rupert Brooke

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On Thursday 9 July 1914 in London, Siegfried Sassoon had breakfast with Rupert Brooke. Sassoon, nervous and overawed, tried to establish an easy link with the rising star of English poetry by disparaging Kipling’s poems as ‘terribly tub-thumping stuff’. To his surprise, Brooke demurred, asserting of ‘Cities and Thrones and Powers’ (from Puck of Pook’s Hill): ‘There aren’t many better modern poems than that, you know.’

How did this former Fabian, neo-pagan and literary rebel turn into a Kipling fan? This paper examines Brooke’s account of his experience in the Pacific in 1913-14. In particular, it reflects on Brooke’s discovery in himself of a previously unsuspected and suppressed ‘Kipling’ side and the influence this discovery had on his thinking and behaviour after his return to England in summer 1914: his dropping of the Stracheys and other Bloomsbury friends, his championing of Kipling to Sassoon at breakfast, and his transformation into the ‘Rupert Brooke’ of the five infamous war sonnets.


Harry Ricketts was born in London. He has published eight collections of poems (most recently Your Secret Life), an acclaimed biography of Kipling, The Unforgiving Minute (1999), and the extended personal essays How To Live Elsewhere (2004) for the Montana Four Winds Press series and How To Catch A Cricket Match (2006) for Awa Press Ginger series. He is co-editor of the review journal New Zealand Books and lives in Wellington, New Zealand where he teaches English literature and creative non-fiction at Victoria University.


Oxford University

The Mowgli Stories: a Genealogy of Kipling’s Fiction

This twenty minute paper will describe how in the Mowgli stories from The Jungle Books we can see with a particular clarity several elements that were key to Kipling’s fiction. For instance, the characteristic Us-and-Them Kipling division, which has been noted by so many readers and critics, is used to shape both ‘Mowgli’s Brothers’ and ‘Tiger! Tiger!’ – though in quite different ways. The difference between these two stories, and between the others featuring Mowgli, can be traced to other issues that were central to Kipling’s fiction, such as his increasing use of non-realistic as well as realistic genres at this period in his life, or to the varying imaginative effect of children in his writing. In this sense the Mowgli stories can be seen as providing a miniature genealogy of Kipling’s fiction: with an examination of them a way of bringing into focus several important themes that ran from the beginning of Kipling’s writing career to its end.


I am in my final year of writing a DPhil at Oxford University on Kipling’s prose. Earlier this year I completed a British Council Research Fellowship at the Kluge Center in the Library of Congress, Washington D.C., where I worked on – amongst other things – the very first draft of ‘Mowgli’s Brothers.’ I have also had poetry published in various national literary magazines.


Oxford Brookes University
website: entry on the conference

Kipling and Shell-Shock: The Healing Community

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‘Shell-shock’ was a popular theme among fiction writers during and just after the Great War, but Kipling is unusual in dealing with its effects not just on sensitive officers, but on soldiers of all ranks. In what can be seen as a parallel enterprise to his work for the War Graves Commission and his regimental history of the Irish Guards, he explored the subject of war-damaged survivors in his stories, and in particular developed a vision of the healing community, in which ex-soldiers could be helped, and could help each other. The most obvious of these communities is the Masonic Lodge ‘Faith and Works 5837’, first introduced in ‘In the Interests of the Brethren’ (1917). This Lodge gives ex-soldiers a sense of purpose and belonging through ritual and work – the exact opposite of one widely influential treatment for war-neurosis, the Weir Mitchell cure of isolation, rest and a milk diet. Throughout Kipling’s work there had always been a stress on the idea that humans need to belong to a community in order to survive, and that the person without a group in which he feels at home is lost. ‘The Woman in His Life’ shows the cure of an ex-soldier who has lost any sense of life’s meaning by the formation of a micro-community – himself, his disreputable servant and a dog. ‘The Janeites’ shows an interlocking network of communities – the Army, the Lodge, an informal brotherhood of Austen readers, and a family, all working subtly to support a damaged soldier.

Kipling realised, however, that many men were unlikely ever to be completely cured. ‘Fairy-Kist’ shows a mentally damaged soldier who is helped by the Lodge-members, but who ends the story fundamentally unchanged and happy in his delusion. I shall argue that these stories together form one of the richest and most deeply-thought literary responses to the Great War.


After a career in teaching, George Simmers is now a postgraduate student at Oxford Brookes University, researching fiction of the Great War. He has previously delivered papers on Dornford Yates, T.S.Eliot and Richard Blaker.


University of Kent

Hybrid identities, torn loyalties, ambiguous relationships – Reading Kipling, Reading Rushdie

This paper looks at the relationship between Kipling’s and Rushdie’s fictional worlds, and compares and contrasts both authors’ engagement with India, using the paradigm of the ‘imaginary homeland’. I focus in particular on Kipling’s ‘On a City Wall’, a story for which Rushdie has expressed admiration, and passages of which feature in The Moor’s Last Sigh. Rushdie is decidedly ambivalent about Kipling and his stance. However, the early short stories of Kipling are particularly interesting for Rushdie because they engage with the blurred boundaries of identity which are one of the legacies of British Imperial rule in India. Ashis Nandy has succinctly described Kipling’s relationship with India in The Intimate Enemy as follows: ‘He could not be both Western and Indian; he could be either Western or Indian. […] Kipling’s avowed values were Western, his rejected under-socialized self Indian, and he had to choose between the two.’ For both authors the biculturality of selfhood is an important marker in their fiction and Rushdie has confronted these issues succinctly in The Satanic Verses and The Moor’s Last Sigh.

Rushdie’s narratives reference and make recourse to Kipling’s fiction. In this respect, Sara Suleri has convincingly argued that there is a need to view the fiction of writers like Rushdie as haunted by the spectre of Kipling: ‘For Kipling’s powerful transcultural fetish plays a secret role in the energies of Rushdie’s abundant idiom, suggesting an ironic relation that deserves more careful reading.’ This paper thus takes up Suleri’s point in The Rhetoric of English India and will imbed it in a comparative reading of both Kipling’s and Rushdie’s work. I thus argue that Rushdie’s fiction as an Indian writer writing in English positions itself in a dialogic relationship with Kipling’s fictional India.


Florian Stadtler recently finished his PhD at the Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Research in the School of English at the University of Kent. His thesis analyses how Rushdie deploys the commercial Bombay film in his fiction. His research interests are in Indian writing in English, Sri Lankan fiction, the novel and Bollywood cinema. Recent publications include: ‘Cultural Connections: Lagaan and its audience responses,’ Third World Quarterly 26.3 (2005), pp. 517-524; ‘Nargis and Aurora Zogoiby – Imaging Mother and Nation in Mehboob Khan’s Mother India and Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh’ in Once Upon a Time in Bollywood: The Global Swing in Hindi Cinema (forthcoming 2007).


University of Delhi

A New Orientalism?: Edward Said on Kipling

If Kipling was the most clearly imperialist of all the British writers of the colonial era, Edward Said has lately emerged as probably the most radical of all the anti-imperialist critics and theorists of our postcolonial period, largely on the strength of his vastly influential book Orientalism (1978). In this paper, I examine Said’s assessment of Kipling as expressed in his ‘Introduction’ to the Penguin edition of Kim (1987), which was later revised and incorporated into his Culture and Imperialism (1989), as well as the extensive explanatory notes he provided to the novel.

This postcolonial Match of the Day begins with Said acknowledging just whom he had taken on in Kipling – ‘few more imperialist and reactionary than he’. But as Said proceeds, he betrays a simple admiration for Kipling’s ‘extraordinary genius’ and for Kim, ‘a marvellous character’. He clearly prioritizes aesthetics over politics, and even turns into an apologist for Kipling’s imperialist and racist attitudes by suggesting that Kipling shared them with the ‘massive colonial system’ of the day and that Kipling could/would have no more questioned them ‘than he would have argued with the Himalayas.’ Said’s engagement with Kipling thus turns out to be rather more of an acid test of his own new Orientalism than of Kipling’s kind of old Orientalism.


Harish Trivedi is Professor of English at the University of Delhi and has been visiting professor at the University of Chicago and the University of London. He is the author of Colonial Transactions: English Literature and India (Calcutta 1993; Manchester 1995), and has co-edited The Nation across the World: Postcolonial Literary Representations (New Delhi 2007), Literature and Nation: Britain and India 1800-1990 (London 2000), and Interrogating Post-colonialism: Theory, Text and Context (Shimla 1996; rpt. 2000).


University of York

Dream Topographies: Kipling in Cape Town, 1891 -1908

On the slopes of Table Mountain, Cape Town, the arch-imperialist Cecil Rhodes had his architectural right hand man Herbert Baker build a ‘home in the woods for poets and artists’ where they could draw inspiration from the mountain. ‘Through a tap, as it were,’ wrote William Plomer in his satirical biography of Rhodes: ‘Unfortunately, when turned on, the tap seems to have produced little but mountain mist and a few hiccups of patriotic fervour.’ The Woolsack became a place for Rudyard Kipling to ‘hang his hat up,’ and he holidayed here with his family for almost a decade. Yet even Kipling’s most ardent admirers admit that he never penned the masterpiece his hero and patron was confidently expecting, that he could not create South Africa in the way he had British India.

Through Kipling’s letters, his children’s writing of the period and his short stories set in the naval base at Simonstown, this paper explores the reasons for this failure. It suggests that his fiction from the period shows the stresses attending the transfer of a poetics shaped in one sector of the British Empire (in this case, northern India) to an entirely different colonial situation. At the same time it explores Cape Town as a seat of high empire, tracing the vexed attempts of Kipling and those in his circle to justify the British imperial presence there as a continuation of an earlier colonial stewardship, and to invent the tradition of ‘Cape Dutch’ which remains prevalent today. In a brief coda, I consider the work of a very different Cape author who wrote on these slopes, J. M. Coetzee, using his trenchant investigation of the scenic tradition in southern Africa – its claims, solipsisms and silences – to enquire what a ‘sense of place’ could mean in a linguistically divided, postcolonial city today.


Hedley Twidle was born in South Africa and has lived and studied in Cape Town, Oxford, Edinburgh and York. He is writing a book on the literary history of Cape Town.


University of Reading

Kipling’s Children and the category of ‘Children’s Literature’

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Kipling’s prose has tended to be considered in terms of the categories of ‘adult’ works and ‘children’s literature’, and it is interesting to note that despite being well-known, arguably even more so that his work for adults, up until recently Rudyard Kipling’s children’s literature has received relatively little serious critical attention. Where there has been some focus it has tended to be on those texts, like The Jungle Books, that are seen as being open to be read in relation to current critical and theoretical interests in post-colonialism. In comparison, texts like the Just So Stories, and even Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies have largely been subject to certain critical assumptions about ‘children’s literature’, in which a certain idea of childhood is connected to a notion of a ‘transparent’ language which therefore means that those Kipling texts categorised as for children are seen as not needing to be analysed in any detail, and indeed as being over-burdened by such analysis.

In this paper I want to explore some of the consequences of the categorisation of Kipling’s work into fiction for children on the one hand and fiction for adults on the other. I want to address how arguments are made with respect to a text’s belonging in a particular category and I want to investigate the implications this has for the type of critical questions that are then asked of it. In pursuing these questions I want to use Kipling’s Kim as a case-study example of what are now called ‘cross-over’ texts, since Kim is seen by critics to transcend the categories. I then intend to address the grounds on which Kim is thus privileged, returning finally to the question of the connection between ideas about childhood and ideas about language.


Dr. Sue Walsh is a lecturer in English, American and children’s Literature at the University of Reading where she teaches on undergraduate courses and the MA in Children’s Literature. She is the author of a number of articles and chapters on various aspects of critical theory and children’s literature, and is currently writing a book on Kipling’s children’s literature and its criticism.


University of East Anglia

Swirling in the Vortex of Abjection in Kipling’s ‘The City of Dreadful Night’

Written in 1885 and collected in Life’s Handicap (1891), “The City of Dreadful Night” recounts a night of insomnia and night stalking. On his journey into Lahore city, Kipling’s narrator experiences a nightmarish dreamscape where his ‘world [becomes] horribly changed’ (Life’s Handicap Library Edition, Macmillan 1948, p.372, l.23). Sleepers on the path to the city become corpses, buffaloes are metamorphosed into grampuses, the city breeze turns poisonous and the moon changes places with the sun. The abiding nightmare image of the story is of corpses that litter the landscape wherever the narrator’s gaze falls. The corpse, which is according to Julia Kristeva is ‘the most sickening of wastes’ , threatens subjectivity and borders. (Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection trans. by Leon S. Roudiez , New York: Columbia University Press, 1987, p.3.) The narrator is confronted with a landscape of dissolving boundaries, neither dreamscape nor reality but a curious liminal space between the two. I hope to demonstrate during the course of this paper, the correlation between the text’s collapsing symbols and a narrator beset by abjection.

Jettisoned into the narrator’s world, crossing internal borders, the abject, which as Kristeva tells us has the singular quality of being opposed to the ‘I’ (ibid, p.1), enshrouds and threatens to draw the subject into an abyss where meaning flails and founders before disintegrating in the pit of vacuity. Throughout this story we see the narrator simultaneously addressing and repelling abjection as it threatens to consume, swallow and collapse meaning and signification. Struggling to organise and catalogue the human waste that litters this most terrifying of landscapes, we see the narrator’s subjectivity in chaos. This paper will discuss the ways in which the narrator attempts to shore up the border that threatens encroach upon everything and pull him into the abyss where the blankness of oblivion waits.

Elizabeth Welby is currently researching her Doctoral Thesis in the fiction of Rudyard Kipling at the University of East Anglia.

University of Warwick

What They Knew of Nation and Empire: The Questioning of Rudyard Kipling and C. L. R. James

‘And what should they know of England who only England know?’ Kipling, ‘The English Flag’, 1891.

‘What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?’ James, Beyond A Boundary, 1963.

Taking his inspiration from his mother, Kipling’s questioning in ‘The English Flag’ criticizes Little Englanders whose knowledge of their nation fails to extend beyond its coastal line. He seeks to poetically provide them with the imperial understanding they ‘should’ already possess. James’ famous postcolonial adaptation of Kipling’s questioning formulae replaces Kipling’s ‘should’ with ‘do’. He contends that West Indian cricket crowds always already understand national and imperial relations because they ‘know’ the game in all its socio-political complexity. For James any lack of knowledge resides with the English nation which still sees cricket, and itself, as largely isolated from its imperial history.

This paper unpacks the interwoven questioning of Kipling and James to suggest the important implications of their individual (re)formulations. It demarcates the points of similarity and difference between them, their political allegiances and their perceptions of the masses. With Kipling and James both speaking back to England from an imperial perspective, it argues that despite the shift from colonial to postcolonial questioning both are consistent in their reading of nation and empire as a dialectical practice. Ian Baucom has called this the imperial dialectic of Englishness and in James’ case this may also be remodelled to form an imperial dialectic of Caribbean-ness. This paper demonstrates how and why such a dialectical stance continues to make Kipling and James, particularly as literary relations, pertinent to postcolonial criticism.


Claire Westall is a doctoral candidate at the University of Warwick, where she also teaches. Her recently submitted thesis examines the place and significance of cricket in English and Caribbean literatures and is entitled ‘What Should We Know of Cricket Who Only England Know?’. Her research interests are principally in the areas of postcolonalism, cultural practice and gender.


Shaw Society

Kipling and Shaw’s attitudes to war

In 1930, George Bernard Shaw wrote a list of twelve contemporary immortals, a list which included Kipling. Both men had been pallbearers at Hardy’s funeral and were both Nobel Prize winners. But both had been condemned for their attitude to war. In my paper, I wish to discuss the similarities between the views of Shaw and Kipling on war and how those views were attacked in society. I also wish to examine what led both writers to adopt those beliefs and how they defended themselves against charges of disloyalty.

Kipling had long since noticed how an ordinary man could be disliked by society until war made him the ‘saviour of his country’. Shaw, meanwhile, argued that war was ‘wasteful, demoralizing, unnecessary, and ludicrously and sordidly inglorious’. In 1914 Shaw recognised that militarism was as much a problem in Britain as in Germany and argued that the violation of Belgian neutrality was merely the British excuse for starting war, which led to Prime Minister Asquith’s reaction: ‘The man ought to be shot!’ He predicted in 1916, ‘The war will last another thirty years’. In the 1930s, Kipling anticipated the rise of aerial bombardment, observing, ‘The People themselves will be attacked from overhead without warning’. Shaw, too, appreciated the significance of the change in technology, observing, ‘The mechanisation of war greatly reduces the power of human conscience.’ Both Shaw and Kipling suffered as a result of telling the truth about war.


Ivan Wise is editor of The Shavian, the journal of the Shaw Society. He spoke as the expert witness for Shaw on Great Lives on BBC Radio 4 in May. Last year, he was a Ronald Bryson scholar at the Shaw Festival in Canada and organised a conference on Shaw’s 150th anniversary at the University of London. He has written articles about Shaw in the Times Higher Education Supplement and Guardian Unlimited. He has recently given papers on CS Lewis in Manchester, Charles Lamb in Oxford and William Morris in Toronto. He also volunteers with young offenders and the bereaved.


Library of Congress

Traffics and Re-discoveries: Rudyard Kipling Collections at the Library of Congress

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This paper presents a brief overview of the project of re-cataloging the four major Kipling collections in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. A brief description of each collection (William M. Carpenter, H. Dunscombe Colt, Lloyd H. Chandler and general Kipling collections) will be provided. A description of materials now available through the Library of Congress online catalog will be given, including additional materials from the Library’s Prints & Photographs and Manuscript Divisions. Highlights of visual materials from Kipling’s 1889 ‘Sea to Sea’ voyage and further (re)discovered examples of unpublished letters, association copies, photographs and rarities will be shown.


MA, German Literature, BA, Political Science and German Area Studies, University of Oregon, Post baccalaureate study in Tübingen, Germany. MA, Librarianship and Information Management, University of Denver.

Currently Senior Catalog Librarian, Library of Congress, Special Materials Cataloging Division, Rare Book Team. One of two project catalogers assigned to the Rudyard Kipling Collections. Also worked on: Benjamin Franklin, Paul Avrich Anarchism, Third Reich, Reformation, Martin Luther and other collections for LC’s Rare Books and Special Collections Division, Law Library and Prints and Photographs Division.

Past positions at the Nagoya University of Commerce and Business Administration, Nisshin-shi, Japan, responsible for western language rare book cataloging and processing their collection of the papers of Sir Roy Harrod, British economist. Also worked as cataloger for the Children’s Literature Archive, University of Washington in Seattle, Washington and other cataloging positions at Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University and Boise State University.