Rudyard Kipling has over the years, more or less deservingly, been proclaimed as the cultural spokesman of the British Empire.
It is true that some of Rudyard Kipling's major works are set in the exotic environment of India in a “colonial” universe, and that his approach may carry an “imperial” and nationalist sentiment. However, his catalogue is vast, and ranges from children’s stories, via verse and poetry to subtle short stories that in fact raise questions about what at the time was seen as white man’s God-given superiority to other races and peoples. His famous children’s books “The Jungle Books” and “Captain Courageous” published just before the turn of the century became immediate best sellers, and have established themselves as all-time classics.
Kipling was born in India to English parents, received his education in England, but returned to India where he worked as a journalist. Here he developed his writing skills and his talent for storytelling. He later travelled to many countries, mainly in the Far East, and he lived some years in the USA. He received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907. Some of his most famous poems are “Mandalay” and “Take up the White Man’s Burden”, which was meant as an appeal to the Americans to become empire builders like the British. The USA at the time was waging a war in the Pacific to take control of the Philippines. The poem has later been seen by anti-imperialists as the ultimate imperialist creed, which may be a fair interpretation today, but Kipling’s message and attitude at the time was probably more one of compassion.
Follow the link and read the short-story Lispeth by Rudyard Kipling
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