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morticia
07-21-2005, 08:35 PM
:alien: This is the first time I've done anything like this so if I get the protocols wrong forgive me.

Am I the only one who fails to find anything racist in Kiplings writing? That again and again he demonstrates his respect for other races?

I know he was paternalistic - but he was a product of his times.

If anyone is interested in discussing this I can support my views.

I'll check back in from time to time

Blessed be.

mono
07-22-2005, 01:46 PM
Hello, morticia, welcome to the forum.
Unfortunately, studying Rudyard Kipling does not seem my strongest area, I think researching into his history seems necessary. Besides his incredible literature, he advocated much for equal rights among the English and citizens of India, which one can see in poems like "The White Man's Burden." I believe he first lived in India, born and raised, then moved to England with his family at an early age, which probably created much reverence in him for both cultures, desiring peace between the two, then, lands in much trouble.
Ironically, looking up years of birth for Kipling (1865-1936), he lived during a very close time to Mahatma Mohandes K. Gandhi (1869-1948) - and they both allegedly served in the Boer War in South Africa. Gandhi also lived and received schooling in England for some time, and, according to his biography by Louis Fischer, encountered an overwhelming amount of racism; so, morticia, that you mentioned Kipling seeming very different from his fellow Victorians sounds very correct - he desired much peace, and succeeded partially, as much of the desire of control of India by England much have seemed nearly impossible to contain. Regardless, his heart remained in both England and India, striving only for peace and making incredible literature.

soupy1957
08-25-2005, 01:13 PM
Hi folks,
I'm ashamed to say that I only began reading Rudyard Kiplings' works just within the last year, even though I am just about to turn 50.
I remember watching "The Jungle Book" Disney film as a child, but didn't know who the author of the story was.
Recently I had heard that some folks think of RK as being "racist" but I don't see it. Having picked up a "Definitive Edition" of his poetry, I find that his understanding of the Morals of God as relates to mankind, to be quite to the contrary.
I'm glad this Forum exsists, as I'll be buying "Kim" or perhaps another work of RK's soon, and I'm hoping that as I go forward in my new found love for RK that I can make good use of this Forum with all of you, for talking about the most current "read" and/or working through any issues I have with it.
Best Regards,
Soupy1957

Nightshade
08-25-2005, 02:07 PM
I suppose I know where the rasist angle comes from its in a couple of the books but I cant remeber the names off the top of my head anyway in Captain couragous there is somthing about the black cook which while it isnt exactly rasist is most definetly un PC and in Kim he says somthing about filthy muslim Pigs or somthing like that its to do with the annymosity between the hindoos and the muslims in India. Also in that book there is this big deal made because it turns out kim isnt a native but white.
Ohh i remeber its the "how the Leopard got its spots" story that is suppose to be rasist isnt it??

soupy1957
08-26-2005, 05:57 AM
Nightshade,
Subjective perspective is what we are prone to after all, eh Nightshade?! I suppose if someone were preceiving that PK were a racist, they themselves might be thinking that way because they are sensitive to that possibility in people.
I just found it interesting that the first time I mentioned to someone that I was reading Kipling, they reached into their mental file cabinet and pulled out a reference card that apparently got filed under "racist."
Certainly we don't base our evaluations of people and things soley on the opinion of one, but it does become part of the fabric of the evaluation until we are able to get a more collective view from a lot of different angles.
As to my question in my earlier post: putting aside "The Jungle Book" just for a bit, ........where do YOU recommend I start, now that I'm looking into PK's short stories and novels? Any particular title that you think is a better starting point than another? (I realize again that this is asking for subjectivism, but alas that is all we have, eh?!
Regards,
Soupy1957

Nightshade
08-26-2005, 08:02 AM
The just so stories were my introduction to kipling great start, Im afraid I havent actually read that much err Kim was alright if I rembere correctly so was Captain Courageous or just read some of his poems like the female of the species and Common form.
acttually there is enough room to fit comon form here:
If any question why we we died;
Tell them because our fathers lied.

soupy1957
08-27-2005, 08:35 AM
Recently, my wife found on a "free" table, what I believe to be a 1956 Doubleday release of "Kipling" (subtitle: "A collection of his short stories and poems;Illustrated), by John Beecroft, ISBN: 56-6647.
Since I had not read any of his short stories, I received this rather dusty and somewhat weatherworn dustcovered hardcover with some measure of glee.
I have read perhaps 3 or 4 short stories at this point from it; in particular are "The Finest Story In The World," and "A Matter of Fact," and "Beyond the Pale," and "A Bank Fraud."
Great stuff, I must say!! What I should like to do now, is to see if I can find older editions of single stories, so off I go to "Amazon.com" to see what is out there.
Being a resident of Connecticut, only an hour South of Brattleboro, Vermont where Kipling had built a home which is now a museum, I am ashamed to say that I had not known of its exsistance until recently, and may take a "day trip" to see it, even this very afternoon.
I'll be sure and report what I have found, once the "trip" is done.
Thanks for your responses......
Soupy1957

soupy1957
08-31-2005, 06:09 AM
Oh, by the way.......I'm reading through a number of RK's (Rudyard Kipling, for those of you reading this who are not normally reading this string), "Short Stories" and I happen to have just started, "At The Pits Mouth."
I didn't expect to get hung up on the FIRST LINE of a story, but I did. Kipling speaks of a character called "Tertium Quid." So I looked up the words in the dictionary and other than the definitions for "Quid" which didn't seem to fit, I'm lost to determine why the name "Tertium Quid" was used at all.
It appeared that he was giving us a description of the person, moreso than the proper name, for he says, "........and a Tertium Quid."
Can someone shed some light on "who" or "what" is a "Tertium Quid?"


Regards,
Soupy1957

mono
08-31-2005, 12:51 PM
Oh, by the way.......I'm reading through a number of RK's (Rudyard Kipling, for those of you reading this who are not normally reading this string), "Short Stories" and I happen to have just started, "At The Pits Mouth."
I didn't expect to get hung up on the FIRST LINE of a story, but I did. Kipling speaks of a character called "Tertium Quid." So I looked up the words in the dictionary and other than the definitions for "Quid" which didn't seem to fit, I'm lost to determine why the name "Tertium Quid" was used at all.
It appeared that he was giving us a description of the person, moreso than the proper name, for he says, "........and a Tertium Quid."
Can someone shed some light on "who" or "what" is a "Tertium Quid?"
Since Latin has never seemed very user-friendly (or speaker-friendly) to me, I turned to my Latin & English dictionary, and found the following results:

tertium = for the third time
quid = how or why
In the Kipling book, it probably really depends on the context of the phrase "tertium quid," but I hope this makes it easier to understand. Perhaps the main character or narrator described this particular character as questioned for a third time - I have no idea without reading the whole sentence or paragraph myself.
Good luck! :)

morticia
09-04-2005, 07:31 PM
This might be a bit late Soupy, but some ideas - "Plain Tales from the Hills" as an intro to the short stories. If there are small grandkids "The Just So Stories", my own favourites which still get reread semiannually "Puck of Pooks Hill" and "Rewards and Fairies". If you're having trouble finding things give your local librarian Hell. There are some on the net but I need the comfort of paper to read for enjoyment, (a fire, glass of wine etc. etc.)

Thanks for taking the time to write, people.

To those in the USA, I hope all your loved ones are safe.

GTR done
10-02-2005, 03:07 AM
Morticia, some people in the U.S. have said that Mark Twain is racist for his writings in "Huckleberry Finn", etc.

Both R.K. & M.T. were reporters first. Their writings may be fiction, but they report the human condition as they knew it in their lives.

I find both are such wonderful reading because of the truth in the baseness of many humans, but the transendent hope that we can all grow beyond our upbringing and circumstances.

Writing the word 'nigger' or 'fuzzy wuzzy' does not make you a racist, especially in the context of both writers works. Also read Twain's 'Pudding Head Wilson' to find a great read, and a thought provoking look at nature vs. nurture.

I think most people who say 'racist' stop reading (or thinking) at the first objectionable word. Too bad.

samjon
10-08-2005, 08:52 PM
I agree entirely. I think that RK is considered a racist by many acadeimcs nowadays because he doesn't say that the British had no right to an Empire and had no business governing parts of India, South Africa, and so on. You are absolutely correct that, for his time, he was forward thinking in considering members of other races--particularly the colonized--to be as individuals just as good, if not better, than many who ruled them. Remember the refrain of "Gunga Din": "Though we kicked you and we flayed you / By the living God that made you / You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din."

By the way, I think Kipling the greatest underrated short-story writer in English. One of the finest stories I've ever read is "My Sunday at Home." And "Proofs of Holy Writ" is a maginificent meditation on Shakepeare's genius.

By the bye, the phrase "tertium quid" (lit. "third thing" in Latin) means a thing that is related to two different things but distinct from both.

Thank you to whoever is responsible for this group. It is wonderful to be in touh with others who "Kipple."

Cheers!
Stephen

Wildrose
11-18-2005, 12:44 AM
I discovered this group tonight. After a group of friends asked me if Kipling was pro war. I thought perhaps I had misread him. I was happy to find the comments here. I agree with GTR in comparing Kipling to Twain. In his book From Sea To Sea, about his travels in the U.S., he recounts a visit with Twain. He was a great fan. This book is well worth reading. His impressions of the U.S. are laced with the irony, good humor and satire he used in his other books. He was a man a head of his times in many ways.

starrwriter
11-18-2005, 02:25 AM
By the way, I think Kipling the greatest underrated short-story writer in English. One of the finest stories I've ever read is "My Sunday at Home." And "Proofs of Holy Writ" is a maginificent meditation on Shakepeare's genius.

I'm almost ashamed to admit I have never read Kipling despite knowing he had a reputation as a great writer. So many books, so little time ...

But I'm glad you mentioned his flair for the short story, which is my favorite form of fiction. I intend to download some Kipling stories from the web ASAP. I'm sure his writing is public domain by now.

rachel
01-03-2006, 07:47 PM
rudyard kipling's stories played a large role in my childhood years. I was always either being read him or reading him. the illustrations and the beautiful colors took me on faerie wings to other times and places.
since unless one reads from the author him or herself distinct feelings and thoughts and beliefs about different cultures and peoples it is sometimes easy to say the author was racist. but those that are rather reporter type writers may simply be telling it as it is so to speak and mean nothing by it. things that seem dubious in that area might simply be the character's personality and in no way the author's thoughts.
so I really cannot put in my two cents worth and say this or that without digging dip and seeing what Mr. Kipling believed.

US Beast
01-03-2006, 07:54 PM
Greetings and salutations,

I stumbled on to this forum while doing research for a book based on RK's "If". Glad to have found it and hope I can contribute something useful.

Soupy, if you haven't yet, check out "The Village That Voted The Earth Was Flat." It is probably the funniest thing Kipling ever wrote. I've read about 90% of his work and this is easily in the top five of my favorites list.

As to the "racist" charge: I wouldn't say Kipling was racist. He was very definately race proud and, given the accomplishments of the Empire in every field of human endeavor, he had some justification.

Wildrose, you mentioned Kipling's account of his meeting with Mark Twain. (I love "From Sea to Sea") It is interesting to read Twain's account of the same meeting from his autobiography. (Charles Neider edition). Kipling was an unknown quantity then. About a year later a friend of Twain's gave him "Plain Tales" saying that the noise Kipling would make would be "loud and continuous".

Twain would later say: "I am not aquainted with my own books but I know Kipling's"
Can there be higher praise than that?

Gotta run. My best to all

US Beast

Virgil
01-03-2006, 08:48 PM
I've not read a lot of Kipling so my judgement is only based on the novel Kim and a handful of short stories, which have flown from memory at this point. By today's standards he might be deemed insensitive, but I don't get the impression he was a racist. He was race conscious, but I don't feel he tried segregate and keep non-whites down. I think he had lots of sympathies for the various groups in India. Yes, he thought in terms of group identity, but so did everyone, and I believe even native Indians think that way. It's only my impression, so I could be wrong. However, I must put in a good word for Kim. It is truly a magnificent novel. Finely written and so touching. I think it deserves to be with the highest of twenty century english novels, but because of the negative labels placed on Kipling it has kind of faded from critical consciousness. Perhaps we can read it one month in the book club and we can decide whether it's racist, especially since we have several Indians and Pakistani on the forum.

rachel
01-04-2006, 12:46 AM
Here here! I can hardly wait. I shall put out my Indian tapestries, wear my Indian clothes(compliments of my dear Kulvinder) and sip some Indian tea while I read and dream and sigh with contentment.
Or in real life I will wrestle with baby Hasia trying to remove from her grasp our new dvd's and with the other hold the book up and glimpse it now and then as I watch over dinner cooking at the stove.

oldrnsin
01-26-2006, 07:50 PM
I was introduced to Kipling when I was 14 and in the ninth grade. Mrs. Lewis made us memorize "If." I hated her for it. Now, I'm amazed at how often I fall back on the contents of that poem in times of stress or difficulty. Old Mrs. Lewis wasn't so dumb after all.

Kipling was a product of his time. If he was racist, it was no more than the rest of his generation and probably less than most. Pollitically correct he was not. But the politically correct insanity is part of our generation, not his.

I think Gunga Din gives some insight into Kipling's true character. Though Din was cursed and reviled he was at the same time deeply appreciated and the last two lines show the true feelings of those he served.

Carol Reese
03-03-2006, 12:20 AM
I get so annoyed when anyone says that Kipling was racist. I don't think he was. His characters were from all walks of life and religions, yet he portrayed them all as having dignity and integrity. "Wee Willie Winkie" is a perfect example. The "bad men" turned to be not all that bad. He pretty much simply "reported" life as it was in the times and places he wrote about.

I began reading Kipling when I was about 12, when my mother got me a two volume set of the Jungle Books, which included a few tales that were not Mowgli stories. 3 or 4 years later, she got me the Beecroft two-volume set mentioned elsewhere in this thread. Over the years and several moves, those books have disappeared (probably loaned out and not gotten back), but I recently replaced them at Alibris. I have read these books many many many times. Good literature bears rereading, and I almost always pick up on something I missed before. Several years ago, it finally occurred to me that "Kim" is a spy novel! When I first read it as a teenager, it was simply an adventure story.

By the way, the term "racist" is a mid 20th century term, becoming popular when I was in high school. It probably wasn't even in use when Kipling was writiing. As far as "politically incorrect" writing, it wasn't politically incorrect at the time, and it still isn't because Kipling does not actually denigrate any of the social classes he writes about. He simply reports them, often sympathetically, and emphasizes the heroic actions of the "lower classes" as in "The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes" when, of all his servants, the lowly dog-boy is the only one who is moved to rescue Jukes.

I got very annoyed at Disney for "The Jungle Book." It so misrepresents Baloo, and really doesn't finish the story adequately as far as I am concerned. It's cute, but there is so much more to the stories than one sees in that movie. I'm afraid that kids won't read the stories later because they think they're just children's tales. Kipling wrote for everyone, not just children, and there is a great deal more in the Mowgli stories than the movie shows.

My reading plans over the next few years include tracking down and reading the Kipling I've missed.

Virgil
03-03-2006, 12:25 AM
Carol, welcome to lit net. I hope you like this place. Anyone who's read Kipling has got to like it. Have you read Kim?

Carol Reese
03-03-2006, 12:37 AM
Of course! You must have missed that I finally decided it was a spy story, not just an adventure story about a teenaged boy. When my original copy of the Beecroft collection could not be found, and I couldn't replace it, I went and bought a copy of Kim just so I could reread it! I've probably read it at least a dozen times, and I'll probably read it several times more in the future, as I will most of the stories in the Beecroft collection. I've probably read Captain's Courageous 6 or 8 times, but only because I didn't read it as soon as I did Kim.

Virgil
03-03-2006, 12:42 AM
Yes, Kim is a spy story, adventure story, friendship story, religious story all rolled into one.

Fiamma
05-26-2006, 01:04 PM
Since Latin has never seemed very user-friendly (or speaker-friendly) to me, I turned to my Latin & English dictionary, and found the following results:

In the Kipling book, it probably really depends on the context of the phrase "tertium quid," but I hope this makes it easier to understand. Perhaps the main character or narrator described this particular character as questioned for a third time - I have no idea without reading the whole sentence or paragraph myself.
Good luck! :)


Very late, but better late then never:

"Tertium quid" means "a third entity".

By the way, I think that maybe Kipling is a racist, but his best work is not racist at all. He looks ironically and naturally multicultural, much more pleasant than any sort of rhetorical menestrel of the multiculturalism.

Carol Reese
05-30-2006, 08:06 PM
I should have looked that up.

Actually, the character is referred to throughout the story as "the tertium quid," as if that were his name or his job title. I don't recall offhand if it's capitalized. He would have been "a third party" because he was courting a married woman. I also have the impression that he was something like a "third lieutenant" in rank, the lowest officer rank, or the lowest ranking person in whatever civilian job he may have had, sort of third in command or something like that, or at least someone with little or no authority.

If Kipling exhibited racist behavior, I think it was simply because of his personal social standing. He was from a higher middle class family, a family who could afford to send their children to boarding school in England while the parents continued in India. On a personal level, he respected all the people he came in contact with regardless of military rank or social status or caste. He was a keen observer of humankind, and a sympathetic one. I think he gives us a glimpse of just what life was like for a multitude of different subcultures and lets us see them from the point of view of each other.

MikeK
07-13-2006, 10:46 AM
A good article on Kipling. Worth reading, at least I enjoyed reading it, if you're interested:

http://www.newcriterion.com/archive/18/mar00/kipling.htm

Another good one that I can't link to, but you may be able to find, was an article written by Malcolm Muggeridge called "Kipling Sahib". I read it in a collection of Muggeridge's writings called "Things Past".

Both of those articles are very interesting and deal, among other things, with the theme of this thread. Was Kipling really racist, etc.

danar256
11-01-2006, 07:19 AM
What a great find this site is! I too, have been trying to express my admiration for Kipling's writing and to share my views of a visionary who was not 'racist.' Although it may be difficult in this day and age to analyze his short stories and poems/ballads with an open mind, one must not let today's conditions and views cloud the brilliance of Kipling's writing. I have read 'Plain Tales From The Hills' and a few other short stories not included in that book, also a collection of poetry.
He is a man for all time.

LizB
05-04-2007, 06:38 PM
Just in case anyone still follows this thread!

When I was 17 I decided to write one of my A Level English Lit. essays on Kipling. The details are hazay but it was the 'extended writing' piece or similar, so it had quite a bit of weight in my overall examination result. The title, which also escapes me (12 or 13 years on) was along the lines of this debate, about Kipling being criticised for being 'jingoistic' etc. My assertion was to the contrary that Kipling had a deep love and respect for India and all things Indian and fully understood the complexities of the imperial relationship. I quoted from many of his works to back up my arguments. I vividly remember my teacher asking me several times if I was sure I wanted to go ahead because he felt that the conservative English Lit external examiners might not look favourably on my choice and he had never known anyone of my age to take such an interest in Kipling in this way. He was fully supportive though, being a bit of a Kipling fan himself (as well as overly fond of Freud and psychoanalysis but that is getting off topic!)

In the end I was awarded a B grade for English Lit., although was expected to gain an A. Whether this was in any part down to my subject matter I will never know. But I do wonder!

A Kipling fan,
Liz

leshy
05-08-2007, 10:56 AM
To evaluate RK's work from a modern perspective (2007) is wrongl Had today's perceptions of what may be currently construed as racism been common in Victorian times then many authors of that time might have constructed their work differently. To some extent RK is bound to reflect the mainstream social thinking of his time (The missionary, Dr Livingstone, for instance, wrote to the effect that the lot of the black Africans could be greatly improved as long as the Africans were supervised firmly by white men. I don't recall that anyone has labeled Livingstone as racist!) There is even a theory that if RK had not written about the Widow at Windsor in his Barrack Room Ballads then he might have been made poet laureate. The big dispute of that time was the row between the Little Englanders, like Hilaire Belloc, quote "Whatever happens we have got
The Maxim gun and they have not!" who advocated giving up foreign colonies and the straight Imperialists who claimed that it was the Englishman's duty to rule over and give guidance to selected foreigners. Other European countries applied that same duty competitively to themselves. RK seems (as is natural in his society) to accept the Imperialistic view and that is why he was initially criticised in recent years, (viewpoints of the UK's destiny were revised as the British Empire crumbled) imputations of racism and gender discrimation as in "The female, thus accosted, rends the peasant tooth and nail" were added later when womens' rights became a social issue, I believe that within the framework imposed by Imperialism RK wrote of the native peoples that he knew with warmth and understanding rather than with contempt, which is as I understand it, the basis of racist comment.