Un­seen sto­ries give a rare in­sight into the young Ki­pling

Jun­gle Book au­thor’s vivid early sto­ries from In­dia pub­lished for the first time

The Observer - - News - Dalya Al­berge

His sto­ries have de­lighted gen­er­a­tions of chil­dren and adults, while also be­ing crit­i­cised for ex­tolling the virtues of em­pire. Now, pre­vi­ously un­known tales by Rud­yard Ki­pling are to be re­vealed in a ma­jor col­lec­tion of his short fic­tion.

Eighty-six sto­ries and frag­ments dat­ing pri­mar­ily from the 1880s, when Ki­pling was a young jour­nal­ist in In­dia, fea­ture in The Cause of Hu­man­ity and Other Sto­ries, to be

pub­lished next month.

Some of the sto­ries have never been pub­lished be­fore and oth­ers ap­peared in pub­li­ca­tions “so rare that prac­ti­cally no one has had the op­por­tu­nity to read them”, the book’s ed­i­tor, Thomas Pin­ney, told the Ob­server. “They’re not all writ­ten to the same level but there’s a ter­rific va­ri­ety.”

Most of the new ma­te­rial dates from Ki­pling’s seven years work­ing for In­dia-based news­pa­pers the Civil and Mil­i­tary Gazette and the Pi­o­neer. Ki­pling was born in the city then known as Bom­bay in 1865, and many of his most fa­mous sto­ries were in­spired by life in In­dia un­der Bri­tish rule, in­clud­ing The Jun­gle Book and his fi­nal novel, Kim.

Un­pub­lished sto­ries in the col­lec­tion in­clude At the Pit’s Mouth, not to be con­fused with a tale with the same ti­tle pub­lished in 1888. Set in In­dia in 1884, it’s the un­fin­ished story of the love be­tween a mar­ried woman and an un­mar­ried man. “They’re plan­ning to flee In­dia and go to Amer­ica,” said Pin­ney. “Be­fore they do, he has a dream in which they both fall to their deaths, and their dis­em­bod­ied spir­its ob­serve what’s hap­pen­ing… It’s very com­pli­cated, very vivid.” Pin­ney said. “It’s a 12-page man­u­script. On the right-hand side is the story and on the left is a set of com­men­taries, some in Ki­pling’s own voice, some in the voice of the char­ac­ters, some tech­ni­cal sug­ges­tions, some more re­flec­tions... It’s Ki­pling talk­ing to him­self as he works.” The open­ing pas­sage reads: “I, Dun­can Par­ren­ness, hav­ing fallen in love, on my way out to In­dia last time, with Mrs George Festin, wife of a red­nosed, fat, bloated ma­jor of that ilk at Kas­sauli. In­ti­macy be­gan in the usual light-hearted way on board ship, helped out with usual scenic ac­ces­sories: moon­light, phos­pho­res­cent sea and long tête-a-têtes…” Un­pub­lished frag­ments in the book, from Cam­bridge Univer­sity Press, in­clude Sons of Belial, thought to have been in­spired by a meet­ing with a “mon­stros­ity” of an Amer­i­can boy. Set on a steamer, the story sees the boy toss­ing a ma­jor-gen­eral’s hat into the sea. Ki­pling wrote: “The el­der Sch­wammaker, aged ten, ran yelp­ing with laugh­ter to the shel­ter of the gal­ley. He had crept be­hind the ma­jor-gen­eral and twisted the old gen­tle­man’s hat into the sea. Pur­suit was im­pos­si­ble.”

An­other story is The Cause of Hu­man­ity, in its first pub­li­ca­tion since a pri­vately printed edi­tion of 100 copies. Pin­ney, emer­i­tus pro­fes­sor of English at Pomona Col­lege, Cal­i­for­nia, who edited the Cam­bridge edi­tion of the Po­ems of Rud­yard Ki­pling, calls it a “bizarre” story about trans­port­ing bod­ies from the Balkans to Bri­tain for med­i­cal re­search be­cause a short­age of “corpses to dis­sect” is “hold­ing up the ad­vance of sci­ence”. Pin­ney writes in the in­tro­duc­tion that Ki­pling was test­ing his skill by try­ing ev­ery pos­si­ble lit­er­ary form and mode – “nar­ra­tive, anec­do­tal, far­ci­cal, tragic, his­tor­i­cal, fan­tas­tic, con­fes­sional, par­o­dic, dra­matic”.

Rud­yard Ki­pling in about 1892.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.