Rudyard Kipling

1 January 2017

He was a gifted writer and a huge celebrity, and has provided us with countless writings that will continue to be enjoyed by future generations. There are two perspectives when it comes to Kipling’s canonization; those that believe based solely on his writing abilities think he should be canonized, and those who saw him as an only an outspoken political figure do not. The questions surrounding his use of a swastika show him to be a possible Nazi sympathizer and curve his support of canonization.

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The purpose of this research paper is to provide the insight and the facts to support the stature of his writing abilities, and to prove that on the merit of his writing alone, he is a true literary canon. Despite his political incorrectness, he should be considered a talented and remarkable author based solely on his literary creativity. Kipling was born in December of 1965 in Bombay, British India; which is now known as Mumbai, India. He was an English poet, short story writer and novelist (Wikipedia).

He was born to Lockwood and Alice Kipling, who were both highly respected people in their time. Kipling was in love with India and the people that inhabited it. Some of Kipling’s earliest and fondest memories are of him and his sister Alice’s trips to the bustling fruit market with their nanny, or her telling them Indian nursery rhymes and stories before their nap in the tropical afternoon heat. (Merriman) When he was six years old, he was torn from India and sent to a boarding house in England, where he experienced brutal and harsh treatment from his foster mother.

He was regularly beaten by her and her son. This is where he began to develop his ability of imagining characters. He used this as a way to distance himself from the desolation that he endured. (BiographyChannel) He would spend his time hiding from his foster mother to read books and escape into their stories. Once she discovered he was sneaking away to read, she scolded him and confiscated all of the books his parents had sent him. He then began to imagine his own characters and stories while bouncing a ball against the wall so she would think he was simply playing.

After spending 5 years at the boarding home, his mother received news that he was becoming mentally ill and returned for him so he could attend the United Services College, where he became the editor of the school paper. (Merriman) Kipling’s closest friend at Westward Ho! , George Beresford, described him as a short, but “cheery, capering, podgy, little fellow” with a thick pair of spectacles over “a broad smile. ” His eyes were brilliant blue, and over them his heavy black eyebrows moved up and down as he talked. (Advameg) His parents eventually sent him back to India where his father got him a job as a journalist.

He began frequenting opium dens and brothels, which flooded his mind with material to write his earliest works. He began writing about drug addicts and sex. He essentially had began his career as a roving reporter, traveling to various parts of India and the United States. He wrote dozens of essays and short stories, the most notable of them being Barrack-Room Ballads, which made his writings quite popular with servicemen at the time. (Merriman) In 1889 Kipling took a long voyage through China, Japan, and the United States. When he reached London, he found that his stories had preceded him and established him as a brilliant new author.

He was readily accepted into the circle of leading writers. (Advameg) After moving back to England, he began writing about a new subject, the British soldier. He soon moved to the United States and married Caroline Balestier, the sister of his publisher. They settled on the Balestier estate near Brattleboro, Vermont, in the United States, and began four of the happiest years of Kipling’s life. During this time he wrote some of his best work. (Advameg) They soon had his first child, Josephine, who inspired him to write some of his most renowned children’s literature.

The Jungle Book and “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” were by far his most popular works and are still read by children today. The Jungle Book, published in 1892, was eventually made into a movie in 1942, and animated by Disney in the 1960’s (Liukkonen). It is still quite a popular story among children today. The fascination of talking animals and a lost boy’s adventures still exists today. By the time he was 32, he was the highest paid novelist in the world. Some people relate Kipling with the swastika. Kipling occasionally used the defamed symbol on the bindings and covers of his books.

These people view this as Kipling being a Nazi sympathizer. This does not seem to be the case. The pre-Nazi Swastika was a Hindu symbol of good luck, which he learned through his father’s knowledge of Indian art, but the suspicion still remains to this day. (Walker) While in the United States, Josephine and Kipling both contracted pneumonia. Caroline was unable to watch after them both and was forced to care for only one of them. She chose to take Josephine to a nearby neighbor’s house to be nursed back to health, but Josephine was unable to survive the pneumonia. BiographyChannel) After the death of Josephine, he returned to England for the rest of his days. This was a drastic turning point within his life. He no longer wished to live where his daughter had taken her last breath. Her death was a dreadful devastation to him. Kipling’s later stories treat more complex, subtle, and somber subjects. They reflect Kipling’s darkened worldview following the death of his daughter, Josephine, in 1899, and the death of his son, John, in 1915. Consequently, these stories have never been as popular as his earlier works.

But modern critics, in reevaluating Kipling, have found a greater power and depth that make them among his best work. (Advameg) Rudyard Kipling died of a hemorrhage on 18 January 1936 in London, and his ashes are interred in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey, London, England near to T. S. Eliot. Today his study and the gardens at ‘The Elm’ are preserved by the Rottingdean Preservation Society, and Bateman’s is held by the National Trust. (Merriman) There have been societies and other notable devotions made in honor of Kipling due to his overwhelming popularity as a legendary writer.

Kipling could be claimed the most popular writer in England in his time, and was consistently honored for his works. He had declined most of the awards which that were offered to him, including a knighthood, the Poet Laureateship, and the Order of Merit, but in 1907 he had accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature (Walker).

Kipling was the recipient of many honorary degrees and other awards. In 1926 he received the Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Literature, which only Scott, Meredith, and Hardy had been awarded before him. Foundation) He was considered a major “innovator in the art of the short story” and is a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was also the first English-language writer to be awarded the prize, and to this date he remains to be the youngest recipient (Wikipedia). Kipling will forever be one of the great historical writers that have entertained us all.

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