The Light that Failed

Notes on Chapter VI

These notes by Geoffrey Annis are based on those prepared for Vol. V of the ORG, published in 1970. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan Uniform Edition of The Light that Failed, first published in 1899 and frequently reprinted since.

[Page 76, Heading] ‘And you may lead a thousand men …’ This heading re-inforces the growing conflict between Dick and Maisie and foretells Dick’s heartbreak. See the notes to page 70 line 13 of Chapter V.

As with the heading of Chapter V, Kipling attributes these lines to a ballad called Sir Hoggie and the Fairies; we have not traced this, and conclude that like many quotations in his chapter headings it was coined by Kipling himself.

[Page 78 line 6] decorative medallions … houses This refers to the apparent 19th century view that brewers as a class were devoid of artistic sensibility. (The Della Robbia family of Florence (1435-1525) were amongst the masters of this beautiful art).

[Page 79 line 8] foreshorten an artistic term describing the perspective effect created when parallel lines appear to converge as they recede; the length of any object receding from the observer appears to be less in relation to other objects not receding.

[Page 84 line 27] There is no discharge in this war This expression echoes Ecclesiastes 8,8: ‘and there is no discharge in that war’. It is another reminder of the constantly telling use Kipling makes of borrowed literary sources, often from memory. He later used it as a refrain at the end of each verse of his poem “Boots” (1903).

[Page 85 line 15] make the reputation of three Verestchagins see the note on page 20 line 16.

[Page 85 line 25] the taste and fancy of the speller, my lord This echoes Sam Weller in Dickens’s Pickwick Papers:

’Do you spell it (Weller) with a ‘V’ or a ‘W’ ?’ inquired the judge.
‘That depends on the taste and fancy of the speller, me lord,’ replied Sam.’

The quotation would undoubtedly have appealed to Kipling’s love of the demotic.

[Page 85 line 32] virtue has gone out of us See Mark 6,30, and Luke 8,46. Another reminder (see the note above) of the many echoes of Biblical texts in Kipling’s work generally, as well as specifically in this novel.

[Page 88 line 3] order a special train this could be done in those days, at a price.

[Page 88 line 32] hansom in 1834 Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803-1882) architect and inventor, and designer of Birmingham Town Hall, sold the design for a patent safety cab, which became the popular Hansom Cab.

[Page 89 line 16] water-spout committees and cab-rank cabals another example of Kipling’s striking use of familiar words in unfamiliar contexts; a ‘cabal’ being a term for a secretive council of political intriguers

[Page 89 line 28] Pullman George Mortimer Pullman(1831-97) was the American inventor of the Pullman Sleeping Car for the Pullman Company, the largest operators of luxury railway carriages in the world. A number of the British railway companies ran their own sleeping car services. Trains, and indeed all forms of transport fascinated Kipling. [See Leonee Ormond’s notes on Chapter IX of “Captain’s Courageous”, and Alastair Wilson’s notes on “007” (The Day’s Work).

[Page 92 line 32] whip a young pup off feather to teach a young dog not to go after birds, except as part of training as a game dog or retriever.

[Page 93 line 8] El-Maghrib see the note to page 48 line 33.


©Geoffrey Annis 2006 All rights reserved