Monday, December 14, 2015

Rudyard Kipling: the misfit poet

John Collier's 1891 portrait of Kipling
John Collier's 1891 portrait of Kipling Credit: Alamy

Kipling is not at all like his image, which is a good thing, since he is widely regarded as jingoistic, narrow and racist. It is a pity if, for this reason, some never read him. 
Kipling was always an outsider, and never a member of the Establishment. He received the Nobel Prize, but refused any honour, including the Order of Merit, that would identify him with a single country.
He wasn’t English, being born in Bombay, 150 years ago, on December 30 1865. A repeated pattern in his life was to turn his back and begin again. He never returned to India after the age of 25. He made a home in Vermont, but, after an almost fatal illness and the death of his daughter Josephine, left America forever in 1899. He pinned his hopes on English rule in South Africa, but, disgusted with the ascendancy of the Boers, left in 1908 and never went back.

No comments: