Open Collections

UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

A new pattern in a shift of light : a study of Rudyard Kipling as a 20th century writer Snider, Philip R. 1993

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata

Download

Media
831-ubc_1993_fall_snider_philip.pdf [ 2.9MB ]
Metadata
JSON: 831-1.0086300.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0086300-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0086300-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0086300-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0086300-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0086300-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0086300-source.json
Full Text
831-1.0086300-fulltext.txt
Citation
831-1.0086300.ris

Full Text

A NEW PATTERN IN A SHIFT OF LIGHT:A Study of Rudyard Kipling as a 20th Century WriterbyPHILIP R. SNIDERB.A., University of California, Davis, 1991A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESDepartment of EnglishWe accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAAugust 1993© Philip R. Snider, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature), Department of  /-", 7pThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate  4/4,4 37 DE-6 (2/88)ABSTRACTFor most of the hundred years or so that RudyardKipling's works have been available in print, they havesuffered under a certain amount of critical disapprobation.In many cases such criticism has been politically motivated,particularly among writers and critics of the Modernistmovement. This is a paradox because, in his best works,Kipling shows a strong affinity for Modernist issues asdemonstrated in his concern for the themes of isolation andabandonment, and the quest for healing, and in his use ofindeterminate narrative structure. The dichotomies in hislife and work have also resulted in profound misunderstandingsof his writings. Nevertheless, his subjects and methodscombine to establish Rudyard Kipling as a powerful andsignificant 20th century writer.iiCONTENTSAbstract^ iiTable of Contents^ iiiAcknowledgements ivDedication^ vIntroduction 1Chapter One^Theme^ 8Chapter Two^Structure 35L'Envoi 63List of Works Consulted^ 71Appendix^Abbreviations of Kipling's WorksCited 74iiiAcknowledgementsIt would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the advice,assistance and extreme patience of several individuals.Thanks are due to Dr. Jon Wisenthal who waded through severaldrafts of each section before they were firm enough to walkon; to Drs. Andrzej Busza and Richard Cavell for graciouslyagreeing to serve on my committee; and to the late Dr. ElliotGilbert, who first took me beneath the surface. My thanksalso to my sweet typist, editor and moral support, and to ourfour children, for waiting.ivDedicationTo d.j. vIntroductionAnd there is a third muster, very cunning in theoutside of things . . . Take these to the lower holdand show them that I do not altogether sell toys orlooking glasses. Remember, too, that many of thecloths are double- and treble-figured, giving a newpattern in a shift of light. Some are best seen infull sun, others under a lamp, and a few are only good to beused in dark places where they were made.Introduction To The "Outward Bound" Edition,Plain Tales From The Hills There is an aura that surrounds Rudyard Kipling, or theimage of Rudyard Kipling, that dissuades many from even themost cursory examination of his works. His reputation forvulgarity, jingoism, and literary cleverness in the absence ofsubstance, not to say misogyny and racism, is so strong thatfor many years books and articles on Kipling havetraditionally been introduced with some notation of thediscrepancy between what we think we know of him, which isbad, and what admired critics have said of him, which is(according to the selection) good. Elliot Gilbert explainsthat his book takes its title, The Good Kipling, fromHemingway's reluctant and qualified inclusion of Kipling amongthe "literary forebears [he] learned the most from" (Plimpton191). Randall Jarrell, in his essay "On Preparing to ReadKipling," notes after a lengthy quotation, "It surprises us tohave [William] James [and from the context, his brother Henryas well] take Kipling so seriously, without reservations . .as if he were Kant's Kritik" (Jarrell 116). Robert F. Mossbegins with the snippet familiar to Kipling scholars fromAuden's "In Memory of W. B. Yeats," "Time that with this1strange excuse,/ Pardons Kipling and his views" (Moss xi).Edmund Wilson's essay "The Kipling That Nobody Read," relateshis subject to the myth of Philoctetes, the warrior of theincurable wound and invincible bow, and leaves the impressionof Kipling as a writer with a neurotic capacity to hate. Yetin another place he lists "Poe, Conrad, Kipling, Henry Jamesand Steven Crane" (Wilson, Letters 365) among the greats inthe art of the English Story. Auden had it right. If pardonis necessary, on the whole it is Kipling's distasteful viewsand not his works that require it.The public Kipling, a pugnacious, mustachioed little manon the rostrum, an unbending conservative, unrepentantimperialist, friend and associate of the ilk of Cecil Rhodes,and implacable nemesis of those he termed the "immoderateleft," was prone to mouthing sentiments that led not a fewcritics to confound the writer with his work. Ignoring whatmay be Kipling's best known story, "The Man Who Would beKing," which is an explicit parable of the pitfalls of empire,and his own analysis of "Recessional" as "a denunciation of[imperial] power politics, British as well as German" (Orwell142), George Orwell nonetheless contends:It is no use pretending that Kipling's view of life,as a whole, can be accepted or even forgiven by anycivilized person . . . Kipling is a jingo imperialist.He is morally insensitive and aestheticallydisgusting. It is better to start by admitting that. . (Orwell 141)2Following the lead of Orwell, who attributes "Mary Postgate,"to Kipling's alleged sadistic strain, Boris Ford writes:Kipling quite candidly, like Mary Postgate, "ceased tothink and gave himself up to feel" when he undertookthis story, and it seems as if he had always beenready to indulge his feelings of revenge and hysteriawhen he could. But, unfortunately for him, theopportunity could only seldom arise for a man . .and this, the second interesting factor, explains whythe story operates through the agency of a woman. Onthe whole, Kipling despised women; but in one or twotales, he is glad to use them to vent feelings that hewould be ashamed to attribute to a man. (Ford 335)Orwell and Ford, along with Robert Buchanan, Max Beerbohm anda few others, represent that corps of critics who cannot lookon Kipling without bile. Yet any of them would be hardpressed to demonstrate Kipling's moral insensitivity in Kim'sLama who, far more than Creighton Sahib or the other playersof the Great Game, is the spiritual center of the novel; orhis want of taste in such stories as "They," "The Gardener"and "The Miracle of Purun Bhagat."There are stories which, in keeping with Kipling's publicpersona, support Orwell's indictment. "The Mother Hive" is athin parable of moral decay aimed directly at the liberalsKipling despised. "My Son's Wife" is a conversion story of asocial wastrel who sees the light and embraces the life of aconservative landholder. While there are virtues in bothstories, especially in characterization, they are not by any3means among Kipling's best. This is not because of thedirection of their political focus, but because they arepolitically focussed at all. Kipling's best work deals notwith what his characters think, but with how and why.Even today Kipling's political reputation colors theperceptions of many readers. "It is the abiding paradox ofKipling scholarship," Moss wrote in 1982, "that while hisreputation stopped growing about 1902, the literature abouthim did not" (Moss xi). Consequently, much of that literaturestill reflects the stunted and two dimensional (at best)reputation that makes it "difficult to see Kipling plain"(Orel, Interviews ix). Worse, it prevents us from perceivingthe complex artistry of the work, the overlaid tints and huesso carefully devised by the author to give "a new pattern inthe shift of light" (PTH xi).The purpose of this study is to examine a selection ofKipling's stories, essentially without regard to his politics,as examples of early 20th century fiction. I will not contendfor Kipling as a Modernist. The Victorian elements in hisworks are far too obvious and explicit. Nevertheless, in ashift of light and emphasis, patterns of Modernism do presentthemselves and the analysis of those patterns, described interms of theme and structure, comprise the body of this study.I have made the decision not to attempt a definition ofModernism for strictly practical reasons. I would sooner workwithout the net of specific definitions than spend the timeweaving one from single strands. Rather, my analysis ofModernist elements in Kipling's fiction will be based on the4assumption that themes of alienation and isolation, andweight-bearing narrative structures designed to embody meaningin themselves, while admittedly present in other eras, aregenerally acceptable as indicators of literary Modernism.Nor will I attempt to deal with the entire body ofKipling's work, which runs to 35 volumes in the definitiveSussex Edition, again for practical reasons. The novels andnonfiction prose I have left completely alone. His verse,which I will consider for the most part only as it relates tothe specific stories I have selected, has received over theyears such eminent critical attention as to distort, to adegree, its significance. Consequently, the editors of manyanthologies have persisted in placing Kipling among the minorpoets while ignoring his mastery of the short story genre.Without discounting the value of the poetry, it is the art ofKipling's short stories I will examine.My concern in the selection of stories for analysis hasbeen to demonstrate that Kipling does not altogether "selltoys or looking glasses," nor yet the "beads, brass rods andcoarse cloths" he feared his harsher critics would "infalliblychoose" (PTH xi): Farces such as "Brugglesmith," and "TheVillage That Voted the Earth Was Flat;" revenge stories suchas "The Tie;" or tracts (Kipling's term) like "The Army of aDream." In making my selection I considered first the stories'capacity to illustrate a particular aspect of theme orstructure, second their overall quality as examples ofKipling's work, and third their varied capacity, in my view,to capture the reader. Of the stories chosen, if I have5chosen well, "Some are best seen in full sun, ["WithoutBenefit of Clergy," perhaps, or "The Gardener"] others under alamp, [or by firelight--"The Knife and the Naked Chalk"] and afew ["Mrs. Bathurst"] are only good to be used in dark places"(PTH xi).This breadth of variety in Kipling's work is the veryfactor that makes it difficult to assure any measure ofcompleteness of representation in a selection of his shortstories. Gilbert's concession of the "unevenness" ofKipling's work, resulting from his more than occasional lapsesinto partisanship, accounts for only a part of the difficulty.Eliot noted:One of the problems which may arise concerning Kiplingis related to that skill of craftsmanship which seemsto enable him to pass from form to form, though alwaysin an identifiable idiom, and from subject to subject,so that we are aware of no inner compulsion to writeabout this rather than that . . . We expect to feelwith a great writer, that he had to write about thesubject he took, and in that way. With no writer ofequal eminence to Kipling is this inner compulsion,this unity in variety more difficult to discern.(Eliot 15)If my selections are not representative of the entire body ofKipling's work, they are at least related to each other, inthat they share certain motifs. The themes which I willexamine, of isolation, abandonment and the quest for healing,and the use of indeterminate structure as a source of meaning,6recur with sufficient frequency in Kipling's stories, even ifthey don't pervade them, to command our attention.It is precisely these motifs that establish Kipling'ssignificance as a 20th century author. As an observer, alwaysa most keen observer, of the formative circumstances andevents of this century, he is an interpreter of the issues ofidentity and personal responsibility, physical and spiritualsurvival, the inability to know in the face of a desire tobelieve, the insatiable thirst for healing, and the divineimpulse of compassion--issues that continue to dominate ourthoughts at the end of the 20th century as they did at itsbeginning."Kipling's account is still unsettled," says Jarrell, andhe has it right, too (Jarrell 117). The all too human natureof the man, his public support for ideas which in his worksare treated with profound ambivalence, continues to dazzle theeyes of many, and hide from them all but the most obviousripples on the surface of very deep waters. For those who areable, finally, to pardon Kipling his views, the Modernistaspect of his work, which we are about to address, is only onefacet for study in the rich and complex art of Rudyard Kipling7Chapter OneThemeI have prayed to the prophet and to Beebee Miriam (the VirginMary). Thinkest thou either will hear?"Without Benefit of Clergy,"In Black and WhiteIn his introduction to A Choice of Kipling's Verse, T.S.Eliot speaks of the "universal foreignness" that pervadesKipling's writing. The phrase is employed by Eliot, not tomark a distinction between Kipling and other writers of theearly 20th century, Eliot not excepted, but to include himamong the writers whose sense of spiritual homelessness,isolation and abandonment, helped to define them as a literarymovement. Whether Kipling himself is or is not a Modernist isa question that must, in the absence of a simple and codifieddefinition of Modernism, remain unanswered. Yet the affinitythat Kipling felt for the themes of Modernism, or perhaps theaffinity that Modernists felt for Kipling's themes, isremarkable. His "The Bull That Thought," which employs theritual and decorum of the bull fight as a metaphor for art,was published in 1924, two years before Ernest Hemingway's useof the same ritual as a metaphor for life in The Sun AlsoRises. His Epitaphs of the Great War, though beholden toBrowning for the technique of the dramatic monologue,resonates to the same melancholy chord as the writings ofSiegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. And while his earlysoldier stories and accounts of the Anglo-Indian life arereplete with examples of Victorian energy and adventure, and8frequently dominated by the exploration of encounters betweenclasses and cultures, there is in many of the stories anunderlying sense of loneliness and separation from thecommunity, that "foreignness" which Eliot noted.The development of these themes, as Kipling matures in hiswork, is also remarkable. The isolation depicted in hisPlain Tales From the Hills and In Black and White is theisolation of the Anglo-Indians, which Martin Seymour-Smithdescribes as "a community living, and feeling that it lived,in exile" (Seymour-Smith 53). This was the early model ofhomelessness to which Kipling returned after his education inEngland to begin his journalistic career. The much exercisedprerogative of the British Raj to transfer civilian andmilitary personnel to the various ends of the Empire andKipling's own vagabond life as a correspondent introduced himto life without roots. His own abandonment in the "House ofDesolation" at Southsea, when he was "sent home" from Indiafor his education at the age of five-and-a-half or six, isrecounted in the autobiographical story "Baa, Baa, BlackSheep," a nearly unbearable tale of abandonment. But in hislater stories, the themes that Eliot perceives are more subtleand internal in their expression, "dealing no longer withincidents in the lives of young soldiers and sailors, but withthe mental processes of mature adults" (Carrington 8). Manyof his later stories address the often fruitless quest forhealing, a theme with which Kipling, like many of hiscontemporaries including Faulkner and Fitzgerald, was tobecome increasingly obsessed.9The presence of such modern themes, even in what seem tobe some of his most Victorian stories, is indicative of thetransitional nature and Modernist trend of Kipling's work.The examples of "Without Benefit of Clergy," "The Knife andthe Naked Chalk," "The Eye of Allah" and "The Gardener"demonstrate not only a concern with isolation, homelessnessand abandonment, core issues of Modernism as noted by Eliot,but a significant development is his ability to address theseissues, to link them later to his overriding concern forhealing, and to approach them with the increased maturity andcomplexity that the age demanded."Without Benefit of Clergy," published when the author wasonly 25, may be the most powerful and impressive of Kipling'searly stories. This account of the tragic marriage of aBritish civil servant and his Muslim bride, and of their brieflife together, deals with the theme of isolation andabandonment on two levels. Their social isolation, the needto keep their interracial marriage a secret, serves as abackground for the tragedies which reveal to them mankind'sisolation in a "blundering, directionless [universe] verynearly incapable of supporting human life" (Gilbert 22). Butdiscoveries of this kind necessarily begin in ignorance, or atleast in naivety, a trait which characterizes both Holden andAmeera, the story's main characters. To Holden's queryregarding their expected child, "But if it be a girl?" Ameeraresponds:10Lord of my life, it cannot be. I have prayed for somany nights and sent gifts to Sheikh Badl's shrine sooften, that I know God will give us a son--a man-childthat shall grow into a man. Think of this and beglad. My mother shall be his mother till I can takehim again, and the mullah of the Pattan mosque shallcast his nativity--God send that he be born in anauspicious hour! (B&W 101)The sixteen year old bride and expectant mother's belief inthe magic, rituals and performances with which she hopes tosafeguard her child at birth and throughout his life isimplicit. Placing a dagger unsheathed on the threshold at thetime of her son's birth she believes will "avert ill luck"from her son's life. The fact that Holden steps upon andbreaks the dagger inadvertently she interprets to her husbandas a sign that "thou has taken his misfortunes on thy head"(B&W 106). The growing child's fascination with the householdparrot gives him his nickname, "Tota" (the parrot), and thesharing of an almond between the bird and the child is a"charm to make him wise as Suleiman and Aflatoun (Solomon andPlato)" (B&W 120). Nor is Holden immune to the seductivecomfort offered by belief in ritual as a protection againstdisaster. The Muslim birth sacrifice, certainly not a part ofany creed he consciously holds, has a stirring impact on theman. Though he had never considered in earnest thesignificance of the rite Ameera had insisted he learn,The touch of the cold sabre-hilt in his palmturned suddenly to the clinging grip of the child up-11stairs--the child that was his own son--and a dread ofloss filled him. "Strike!" said Pir Kahn, "Never lifecame into the world but life was paid for it. See,the goats have raised their heads. Now! With adrawing cut!"Hardly knowing what he did, Holden cut twice ashe muttered the Mahomedan prayer that runs: "Almighty!In place of this my son I offer life for life, bloodfor blood, head for head, bone for bone, hair forhair, skin for skin."Holden swung himself into the saddle and rode offthrough the low-hanging wood-smoke of the evening. Hewas full of riotous exultation, alternating with avast, vague tenderness directed at no particularobject, that made him choke as he bent over the neckof his uneasy horse. (B&W 110)Overwhelmed by the unexpected power of this unfamiliar ritual,moreover, Holden retreats into a ritual more familiar, whereinhe can reinforce his conviction that all will yet be well. "Inever felt like this in my life," he thinks, "I'll go to theclub and pull myself together" (B&W 110). At that Anglo-Indian institution Holden partakes of the rituals offellowship, billiards, and "the [talk that] beat up around theever-fresh subject of each man's work, and steadied Holdenuntil it was time to go" (B&W 112).The belief that Holden and Ameera place in ritual and thecomfort they draw from it notwithstanding, it rapidly becomesclear that there is no guiding hand overshadowing their lives12and the life of their son, and therefore no one and nothing toappease in order to ward off disaster. The healthy birth andcontinued well-being of their "small, gold-colored little god"(B&W 119) is no more assured by Ameera's spells, tokens andprayers (at both Muslim and Christian altars), than hiseventual death is averted by Holden's sacrificial slaughter oflivestock. The narrator tells us conclusively that therituals of religion, tradition and superstition in whichAmeera indulges so lavishly, and which Holden doubts yet findsso strangely compelling, are not the agents of the couple'sgood fortune. In the days of their happiness,. . . the powers were busy on other things. They hadallowed 30 million people four years of plenty whereinmen fed well and the crops were certain, and the birthrate rose year by year . . . [Nevertheless,] twomonths later as the deputy had foretold, nature beganto audit her accounts with a red pencil. On the heelsof the spring reapings came a cry for bread, and thegovernment, which had decreed that no man should dieof want, sent wheat. Then came the cholera from allfour quarters of the compass. (B&W 129)Not only does the disease eventually claim Ameera's life but,lest we think that her death has any special significance orthat the powers might somehow be propitiated, the narratoralso reports "it struck a pilgrim-gathering of half a millionat a sacred shrine. Many died at the feet of their god" (B&W129). Indeed, Elliot Gilbert asserts, "What is most strikingabout this story is that in the world which it pictures,13ritual--elaborate and hopeful and time-consuming as it is--isof no use . . . it is, from beginning to end, pathetic hocus-pocus and nothing more" (Gilbert 29). There can be no appealto any higher power for compassion or mercy, he says, forKipling's universe is deaf as well as blind.To Holden and Ameera, with the realization that nosacrifice, performance or spell can mitigate the course ofmisfortune, comes also the realization that they are alone andabandoned in a universe which makes no provision for theirspecial needs. Armed with the dear-bought knowledge that theymust make their own way as best they can, the lovers begin apurge of meaningless ritual from their lives. The failure ofAmeera's charms to preserve and bless the life of her childleads her step by step to lay each and all of them aside.Chastened and enlightened--matured--Ameera at the lastexamines her existence face on, without the veil of bazaar-stall mysticism to shield her eyes. Holden, too, in grief forthe death of his son and fear for the health of his wife,finds even the British traditions of hard work and stoicresignation, though comforting at first, eventually lose theirpotency to "[fill] up his mind for nine or ten hours a day"(B&W 125) and drive away the pain of his loss. Though hecontinues to maintain the secrecy of his relationship toAmeera, as required by Anglo-Indian mores, when word of herimpending death comes he lays aside the last vestiges ofconvention and abandons his post to rush to her side. Eventhe final ritual of mourning, abbreviated for Holden by theappearance of the "four sheeted ghosts" who must promptly14remove cholera victims in accordance with civic necessity, isdefiled by the greed of Ameera's mother who "in her anxiety totake stock of the house-fittings forgot to mourn" (B&W 135).As disaster is heaped upon disaster for Kipling's characters,the rituals of faith, magic, hope, and eventually even routineare all discarded.In his essay quoted above, entitled "A Farewell toRitual," Dr. Gilbert contends, "What is so remarkable aboutAmeera [and he could say the same of Holden] is that each blowthat life inflicts on her makes her not more and more aprisoner of the superstitions she started with, but somehowmore and more free of them" (Gilbert 37). He concludestherefore that Ameera's farewell to Holden, a seeminglyblasphemous paraphrase of the Moslem profession of faith, isher final rejection of the last and most deeply rooted ofritualistic beliefs. And yet . . .Ameera's last words are, in fact, ritual. Her statement,"I bear witness . . . that there is no God but--thee,beloved!" are couched in the diction of ritual, and spoken inthe expectation of understanding as ritual. Likewise Holden'sretention of the red-lacquered bedstead, his visit to theempty and desolate house, and his determination that it shouldeither remain empty or be pulled down and obliterated, isequally ritualistic. It is, in fact, a reflection of thecommon Victorian ritual of saving only very personal keepsakesof the dead and destroying all other possessions to preventtheir being pawed over by strangers (see "Mary Postgate").What Kipling has illustrated in his story is not a rejection15of all ritual, but a winnowing out of meaningless ritual inorder to revitalize that which retains its value. The finalacts of both characters suggest not a "farewell to ritual,"but a renewed commitment to a new and meaningful form.Ameera's last profession of faith and Holden's cloistering ofher memory are the ritual recognitions of love as the finaland appropriate locus of belief, and the only means of defenceagainst the random violence of a blind and soulless universe.Kipling's approach to the themes of homelessness,isolation and abandonment in this early story are grounded inhis experience of the Empire and in the common Victorian sensethat science and technology had increased knowledge buteliminated faith, leaving man to work out not his salvation,but bare survival in fear and trembling before an empty altar.Vestiges of the Romantic fascination with mysticism and theoccult remain, but only to be exposed and discredited in thecontext of a void and uncaring universe. It is an approachreminiscent of Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach," which describesa newly explicated world "so various, so beautiful, so new,"but which in its soulless anonymity "Hath really neither joy,nor love, nor light,/Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help forpain;/And we are here as on a darkling plain" (Arnold 401).Kipling's domestic tragedy, played out upon the plains ofIndia's fearful summer heat, is reflective of his Victorian,Anglo-Indian experience. Alone and isolated, not only fromtheir respective societies but in the universe, Holden andAmeera would sob quietly in Arnold's words, "Ah love, let usbe true/To one another . . . " (Arnold 401).16*^*^*"The Knife and the Naked Chalk" is an example fromKipling's middle career of a story of isolation. By 1910, thetime of the story's publication, Kipling had been away fromIndia for more than 20 years. In the interim both he and hisfiction had moved a considerable distance from the imperialatmosphere that had brought him forth. While Kipling wouldalways remain a Victorian Imperialist ideologically, the"Puck" stories contained in Puck of Pook's Hill (1906) andRewards and Fairies (1911), which give a fanciful account ofBritish history as magically revealed to a pair of children,indicate a growing perception on the author's part thatEngland, too, had in the past been an outpost of empire. Afew years earlier Conrad's Marlow observed in "Heart ofDarkness," "This, too, has been one of the dark places of theearth," (Conrad 5). Kipling's exploration of isolation andabandonment in "The Knife and the Naked Chalk," however, hasconsiderably less to do with any physical separation fromsociety, the starting point of "Without Benefit of Clergy,"and much more to do with the intellectual and spiritualseparation of the superior man from his fellows. While theduty to govern by service, a clearly Victorian concept,remains and is strongly manifest in the story, it provides thepoignancy of the tale as well. It is the lead character'sdesire to belong and to "serve the people," in fact, thatseparates and isolates him from them.17Like most of the Puck stories, and many others in variouscollections, "The Knife and the Naked Chalk" is bracketed withverse that introduces and comments upon the story. Theprologue poem, "The Run of the Downs," is particularlysignificant to this study as a presentation of the story'stheme in antithesis. Consistent with the formal, pastoralframing of the tale, "The Run of the Downs" is a ballad of theland. The folk rhythm of iambic tetrameter chants in the oraltradition. The poem is a list of geographic and historicsites on the Weald and the Downs of Sussex, such as might berecited to children to help them appreciate and identify withtheir local heritage. The closing couplet, "The downs aresheep, the weald is corn,/ You be glad you are Sussex born!"is an explicit statement of invitation, virtually by command,into the community.Likewise the frame of the story speaks of belonging. Danand Una, children of a man who left the Downs "to live amongthem messy trees in the weald" (R&F 142) (and of the same agesas Kipling's own son and daughter at the time), have returnedto the Downs for their summer holidays. Their acceptance byMrs. and especially Mr. Dudeney, the old shepherd who knewtheir father as a boy and who takes the role of caretaker andinterpreter of events, is a matter of natural course. Whenthe retired sheep dog, Old Jim, brings Dan and Una to wherethe flock is grazing, Mr. Dudeney acknowledges both thechildren and their reason for coming. "You come to talk withme," he says, "same as your father used. He didn't need nodog to guide him to Norton Pit" (R&F 141). Mr. Dudeney's18recognition of the children as descendants of the Downs, andeven his mild chiding of their lack of a significant communalskill (finding their way across the waving grasslands of theDowns), contributes to a sort of antithetical pre-theme (asopposed to the main theme found in the central narrative) ofcommunity and ancestral belonging. This careful constructionof antithesis serves by contrast to give greater emphasis tothe opposing main point.To the flint worker who is the central character andspeaker of the story, his inclusion in the community is ofcritical importance. Conjured up by Puck--Shakespeare's ownfairy spirit--for the amusement and education of the children,this ostensible antecedent of Mr. Dudeney finds greatercomfort in the sense of belonging than Dan, Una or any of theframe story characters can compass. His upbringing was at thecenter of his society. He was the son of a priestess, andknew the signs, the language and the ceremonies of theirreligion. When he was old enough, he took his place in thesheepguard and assumed his portion of responsibility for "thepeople." Indeed, to his sorrow, he knows more and feels moreof the true nature of his society than others among hiscompanions can guess, and his desire to obtain knives from theChildren of the Night, is based on that knowledge.Their priestess said, "For whose sake have you come?"I answered, "The sheep are the people. If the beastkills our sheep, our people die. So I come for amagic knife to kill the beast! (R&F 153)19His words are a reiteration of his basic contention: "It isnot fit that the beast [the wolves of the Downs] should masterman" (R&F 150). The resulting sacrifice of his position asone of the people by means of his elevation to the status of agod becomes the more poignant because of his awareness.The sum of his fear is change. Upon entering the trees hefears the change that is wrought, in his mind, by the spellsof the woodland inhabitants--a fever against which, as astranger in the woods, he has built up no immunity. The lossof his right eye, required by the gods as earnest for his goodmotives in trading for the knife, represents another and moredreadful change. But the greatest and most devastating changeis that of the attitude of his own people, who "thought [him]to be a God, like the God Tyr, who gave his right hand toconquer a Great Beast" (R&F 158). Their reverence is suchthat they will not tread upon his shadow or speak to him inthe common tongue. It is a reverence that limits as much asit exalts the man. He is not free to speak or move among hispeople as before, and when a man of his companions asks leaveto take his maiden, the new god observes, "He was full of thefear of a God, but of me, a man, he had no fear" (R&F 159).This stone age man's exceptional willingness to face fear, toendure loss, in the end to embrace change ("for the people;the sheep are the people"), sets him apart from his society.As Tyr, the God, the Buyer of the Knife, his voice is lost.Priests now speak for him. His seed is lost, as another takeshis wife. His self is lost, as the significance of his single20act overwhelms every other aspect of his character. As heintuitively feared, the exchange had terms that were hidden.His isolation is in fact a double damnation. Havingassumed responsibility to master The Beast for the sake of ThePeople, he is required to retain that responsibility in otheraspects of his life as well. "He who has done a God-likething," his mother declares, "must bear himself like a God. . . The People are your sheep now till you die. You cannotdrive them off" (R&F 160). Moreover, having himself attainedthe status of a God, there is no priest or deity to whom hecan look for help or comfort. The people place their faithupon him as a burden, "a heavier sheep than [he] can lift"(R&F 160), while his own faith has no place to rest. Thatburden, too, he must bear.The pain of isolation, whether redeemed by revitalizedritual as in "Without Benefit of Clergy," or bitterly enduredas in "The Knife and the Naked Chalk," crystallizes inKipling's late work into a larger theme: the quest forhealing. Certainly he is not alone among the writers of thisperiod in pursuing such a theme. In the destruction of theGreat War and the political, physical and emotionaldislocation of those who survived, a chronicle of pain was nolonger sufficient to address the issues of isolation andabandonment. A nearly obsessive quest for healing marks theliterature of the post-War period. Hemingway's Jake Barnesvainly seeks relief from the pain of his storied wound in TheSun Also Rises. Fitzgerald's Charlie Wales pursues healingand redemption from the long alcoholic binge of the 20's in21"Babylon Revisited," and Faulkner probes the wounds thatrefuse to heal in The Sound and the Fury.In 1926 "The Eye of Allah" was published in Debits andCredits, Kipling's penultimate collection of short stories.In beautifully descriptive language, perhaps the richest inall Kipling's body of work, the tale tells of the experiencesof John Otho, or John of Burgos, an artist in the 12th centuryEnglish monastery of St. Illod's. Though not a churchmanhimself, John travels about the western world on behalf of hisbrethren, obtaining drugs for the infirmary; rich and rarepigments and earths for the illumination of their hand-copiedtexts; and for himself, models for his art. In Moorish Spainhe finds devils to torment the Gadarene Swine of his "GreatLuke" revealed in a single drop of water through a primitivemicroscope, which the Moors call the eye of Allah, and whichhe brings back to the monastery in England. While in Spain,he also loses his wife (or mistress) and their infant son inchildbirth. On his return to St. Illod's, he attempts to findsolace in his craft. The tale may also be one of Kipling'smost mature explorations of the themes thus far discussed, forit addresses not only the pain of isolation and the quest forhealing, but the clear cognizance of authorship--artistry--relative to those questions.Not all of the stories in the Debits and Creditscollection can be measured as mature Kipling, but then hisunevenness is well established. "The United Idolaters" ismerely a further adventure of the Stalky and Co. characters towhich George Orwell so strenuously objected. So too, in22spirit, is "The Janeites." The names of the participants aredifferent from the Stalky stories, though familiar fromearlier tales, but the attitudes are definitely products ofthe "Old School" experience. The familiar author-as-narratorcharacter, too, appears in "A Madonna of the Trenches" and "Inthe Interests of the Brethren." Nevertheless, along with "TheWish House" and "The Gardener," "The Eye of Allah" remains anexemplary piece of Kipling's mature work addressing the themesof pain and healing, and of artistic self-consciousness inthat context.At this point in his career, in his better stories,Kipling works his themes not on one or two levels, butthroughout the story, weaving them into every aspect of thepattern. In "The Eye of Allah" each character suffers to somedegree the pains of physical injury or disease, age,incapacity or sin, and each character must bear his or herpain in isolation. John Otho endures first separation from,and at last the utter loss of, his wife and child. BrotherThomas, the Infirmarian, suffers in fear that his privatethoughts might constitute sin, while Roger of Salerno, thevisiting surgeon, savors the bitterness of vain pride, knowingwith assurance that he dare not publicly pursue his thoughtslest Mother Church declare them heresy. Anne of Norton, theAbbot's Lady, must be carried whenever she goes abroad, as shewastes from immedicabile cancer as diagnosed by her medievaldoctors, and Stephen de Sautre himself is lame, his share inan unlucky Crusade and "two years captivity among the Saracensat Cairo" (D&C 312).23For all that it follows the travails of John of Burgos,"The Eye of Allah," however, is not John Otho's story, but thestory of Stephen de Sautrê, Abbot of St. Illod's, and of thehealing that occurs under his hands. His monastery is asanctuary of order, authority and compassion, presented as aship of refuge "moored on the edge of the banked shoals ofsunset" (D&C 331), a sea that is vast and unknowable. WhenJohn prepares to leave for Spain, it is Stephen gives him"generous absolution to cover lapses by the way; for he[Stephen] did not hold with chance-bought Indulgences" (D&C312). The absolution would cover not only the sins incidentalto John's acquisition of drugs for the infirmary and colorsfor the scriptorium, but also his meeting with one, who in theeyes of the Church can only be a mistress, whether Moorish orHebrew. Under Stephen's authority the affection John bearshis lady can carry no taint of sin. When John returns, having"left all in the hands of God," while Anne of Norton exhortshim to "remember there is no jealousy in the grave" (D&C 315),it is Stephen who counsels him "for pain of the soul, thereis, outside of God's grace, but one drug; and that is a man'scraft" (D&C 315-316). Accepting Stephen's counsel inmeekness, John applies his art to serve his grief and, layingall other work aside, declares, "My Magdalene has to come offmy heart first" (D&C 317)."Physicus before sacerdos, always" (D&C 319), Stephen'secclesiastical ministry is an exercise in healing. Whensaintly, 70-year-old Brother Martin, "who spoke about once afortnight," accepts from John some stolen sweet meats as a24reward for particularly good work, "then confessed andinsisted upon penance," Stephen "set him a book called DeVirtutibus Herbarum" (On the Virtues--or Powers--of Herbs,another text on healing) to "fair-copy," a "crabbed text" ofthe "gloomy Cistercians, who do not hold with pretty things"(D&C 317). That the text would have to be copied anyway isclear, as is the implication that in this, as in all cases,the penance set by Stephen bears no hint of malice but isdetermined solely to satisfy the needs of the sinner.It is consistent then with Stephen's character that the"wisdom dinner" he assembles would likewise present anopportunity for the participants to find salve for theirprivate wounds. It is characteristic of Kipling's tightlywoven structure, as well, that all of them should seeksalvation through the same implement--John's primitivemicroscope.With the Abbot Stephen's ring of office laid aside, theafter dinner discourse is unfettered. In freely speakingtheir minds, three of the company reiterate the sources oftheir pain: Thomas' fear that certain unbidden thoughts may besin; Roger of Salerno's vain pride in knowledge condemned bythe Church; and Roger Bacon's related frustration that anyknowledge should be withheld or suppressed. Stephen'ssuffering is suggested (it is enough) in the sob of his unseenlady as she passes through the halls, as is John's in thedisplay of his Magdalene, pale, "almost transparent," and25weakened by the banishment of her devils. 1 But as theconversation turns to John's devils and the microscope throughwhich he first perceived them, each man perceives that, likeJohn, he may find the means to assuage his troubles under theglass. Thomas finds blessed relief in the knowledge that "thesmall animals that the eye cannot follow" of which he haddreamed are in fact "Life created and rejoicing," and that "itwas no sin for me to dream" (D&C 331). Bacon, in a passionover this newly revealed world, desires to believe that withthe "English-hearted Foulks made Pope" (D&C 322) the windowmay not be closed, yet Salerno knows better. "It is a newworld," he says assuredly, but "What of Mother Church? . • •If it comes to her ears that we have spied into her Hellwithout her leave, where do we stand?" he asks (D&C 332). AndStephen de Sautre answers: "At the stake." In Kipling's worldunder the Eye of Allah, who is God, the artist and the man offaith may find salvation, while the scientist and philosopherfind only tantalizing and frustrating hints of forbiddentreasure.This is not a contradiction of Kipling's well-documentedadmiration for, or emulation of, the insider, the man-who-Salerno the physician, incidentally, marvels at theartist's powers of observation and describes the symptoms ofepilepsy as displayed in the portrait. The model of course forJohn's masterwork was his pregnant wife. What Kipling's medievaldoctor identifies as epilepsy may more likely be an advanced caseof eclampsia, a condition which occurs in pregnant women causingfluid retention, weakness and, if untreated, seizures and othersymptoms which mimic epilepsy. The seizures can be fatal to bothmother and child. In John Otho's Magdalene, the disease Salernotakes to be epilepsy might also provide a natural explanation ofher "possession," consistent with the religious/naturalistsensibilities of Kipling and his contemporaries.26knows. Rather, in this particular story, Kipling is assertingthat there are circumstances in which the observer sees andgrasps more from the outside than the expert can from within.The outsider becomes the ultimate insider. Indeed, to judgeby "The Eye of Allah," Kipling places greater faith in theability of art to save than in the efficacy of faith, and farmore than in the works of technology. Yet the artist, asalways, is limited in his powers: "My trade's the outside ofthings," says John (D&C 333). He may observe, but neverinfluence. Consequently the question of whether to preserveor suppress the instrument of revelation must be debatedbetween the cleric and the scientist. Though all hold theinstrument dear, those with experience of the world recognizenot only its power, but its danger.Ironically, Stephen, the one man who is both physicus andsacerdos, is the one who must decide. Well knowing thatscience may bring truth and that truth comes from God, Stephenalso knows that a world unprepared for the truth will notaccept it from science or from God. Finally, recognizing thatthe prevention of suffering, though it may be briefly painful,is the most effective form of healing, Stephen makes hisdecision. "This birth is untimely, my sons," he says,recalling the recurrent image of untimely and tragic birthsthat run through the story. "It will be but the mother ofmore death, more torture, more division, and greater darknessin this dark age" (D&C 335). So saying, he destroys the lensof the instrument.27Kipling provides an intriguing support for Stephen deSautre's contention that greater light may bring forth greaterdarkness, by providing a companion piece in the Debits andCredits collection, that is an exploration of the same themein mirror image. In this light, Kipling's commitment tostructural integrity in his late short story collections isworth noting. Not only are the collected stories generallyrelated to the book's title (the question of balance in "TheEye of Allah" certainly reflects the concept of Debits andCredits), but the stories within the collection are arrangedin a very specific order. In Debits and Credits a sort ofchiasmus is employed, with pieces of similar theme andintensity placed first and last in the book, and lighterpieces in the middle. Additionally, the stories in theirplacement often reflect and comment upon their opposite (firstand last; second and next to last) or companion (first andsecond; last and next to last) numbers, or on both. (It is anarrangement which Pound might have admired, had he looked.)In Debits and Credits, "The Enemies to Each Other" and "TheGardener," first and last in the collection, deal with Adamand Eve as casualties in the War of Satan against God, andwith Christ and Magdalene figures coping with the losses ofWorld War I. The stories balance each other in terms of thedebit of Adam's Fall and the credit of Christ's Atonement.Moreover, the Magdalene of "The Eye of Allah," the next to thelast story, prepares the reader for her allegorical presencein "The Gardener." What answers, then, does the second story28of Debits and Credits offer for the questions raised atStephen de Sautrd's banquet?"Sea Constables: A Tale of '15" is a bitter story of thepursuit to the death of a mercenary minded "neutral"attempting to sell oil to the German Navy offshore, by middle-aged pleasure mariners drafted with their vessels into thecoast guard service. While Edmund Wilson and others dismissit as simply another, slightly more mature revenge story, whenviewed as a comment upon "The Eye of Allah," "Sea Constables"is much more revealing. The burden of the tale, as told byKipling's narrator, Maddington, is that the failure of theNeutral to take the War seriously and his attempt to bend andtwist the laws of society for his own purposes, forcesMaddington to apply the letter of the law in its strictestsense. The result is a polite and deadly gamesmanship, at theend of which the Neutral, in terror at the onset of bronchialpneumonia in a small Irish port without medical facilities,concedes and requests transport to London for care. Shockedat his own cold blooded response, Maddington refuses. Hislast comment on the episode describes his view of theneutral's ship, "his flag half-masted" (D&C 40).The "sea constables," at their long-awaited dinner in townwhere the tale is told, are civilized men, no strangers to theworlds of either business or culture. At need they put offthe trappings of civilization to become savagely efficient inthe defence of their country. They drink "Damnation to allNeutrals" (D&C 22) who would have them put the concerns andcourtesies of business before the lives of the soldiers and29sailors they support. The men at de Sautre's banquet are,conversely, men of action in their natural state, who put oncivilization within the walls of the monastery. As Abbot ofSt. Illod's, Stephen is compassionate and dedicated to therelief of suffering, both physical and spiritual; but in hisyouth he bore a sword in the service of the Church, crusadingagainst the Saracens. Salerno intimates that he has, or atleast has desired, to raise the skin of corpses he has seenlittering the roads in the wars of the Bishops in Italy, "tolook at God's fabric beneath" (D&C 323). His secretautopsies, whether real or only fancied, are dark and furtiveprocedures prohibited by the Church on pain ofexcommunication. John Otho is most open of all about hisharsher outside life. More cognizant of this dichotomy thanhis fellows, he is not ashamed to challenge the brethren ofthe Scriptorium: "Have you ever thought how I lie and stealdaily on my travels--yes, and for aught you know, murder--tofetch you colors and earths?" (D&C 318). The sea constablesgo out from civilization to do savage battle to preserve lifeand prevent further bloodshed. The men of de Sautre'smonastery retreat from the savage world to find balm for theirprivate wounds, but are forbidden to carry it out into theworld lest the cure of enlightenment be more deadly than thedisease of ignorance.Yet, though Stephen may put off his ring to hear thethoughts of the scientists, artists and philosophers he hasgathered about him, he knows he must also resume thatauthority. To avert the carnage that would ensue from the30publication of legitimate proofs of a heretical idea, he mustcrush the lens which represents the civilized hopes of hiscolleagues. Like Maddington, Stephen de Sautre must lay asidecivility, and ruthlessly destroy to prevent suffering on awider scale.The themes of homelessness, isolation and abandonment, therandom violence of an uncaring universe, and the quest forhealing all come together in one of Kipling's most beautifuland haunting stories, "The Gardener." This late tale, the endpiece of Debits and Credits, presents us with the character ofHelen Turrell whose illegitimate son, known to the world asher nephew, "her only brother's unfortunate child" (D&C 339),has been killed in the War. Throughout his life, Helen hasbeen mother in all but name to the boy, and even in name "atbed time as a [secret] pet-name between themselves" (D&C 341).When the young man is reported missing in action, Helen,certain that "missing always means dead" begins with subtlecognizance the process of "being manufactured into a bereavednext-of-kin" (D&C 345). In her visit to the Belgian cemetery,where the lately recovered body of her nephew/son has beeninterred, Helen is engulfed by the "merciless sea of [twentythousand] black crosses, bearing little strips of tin at allangles across their faces" (D&C 351). On the strips areimprinted the "intolerably nameless names" for which SiegfriedSassoon grieved. The bare chance of her son's death, and theoverwhelming anonymity of his grave leave the bewildered woman31to fall back on the familiar habits of more than 20 years.Denying herself the title, and thereby the legitimate prideand pleasure of her station, when Helen is asked whose graveshe would visit:"Lieutenant Michael Turrell - my nephew, " saidHelen slowly, word for word, as she had many thousandsof times in her life. The man lifted his eyes andlooked at her with infinite compassion before heturned from the fresh sown grass toward the nakedblack crosses."Come with me," he said, "and I will show youwhere your son lies."When Helen left the cemetery, she turned for alast look. In the distance, she saw the man bendingover his young plants; and she went away supposing himto be the gardener.(D&C 351-2)The universe in which Helen Turrell moves, theimperturbable workings of which proceed oblivious of her son'sdeath, is as aimless and violent as that of "Without Benefitof Clergy." Helen's isolation is as complete and hopeless andintimate as that of the flintworker of "The Knife and theNaked Chalk," and her need for healing is as intense as thatof any of the characters of "The Eye of Allah." And yet thereis a difference.There is a God in Helen's universe, made manifest in theman she takes to be the gardener. His powers are limited. Hecannot, or will not, govern so minutely as to prevent the32chance death of one soldier more or less. Yet in the world of"The Gardener," the God that Kipling reveals is cognizant ofthat death and of the void it leaves in a life such asHelen's. While Holden and Ameera must establish the meaningof their existence with a love that functions in defiance ofan unconcerned universe, Helen is the recipient of a seeminglydivine offer of redemption, an opportunity to lay aside theconstraints of secrecy and openly acknowledge her love for herson. In Helen's universe there is cognizance of suffering,hope for isolation, and balm for pain, if only she is able toreceive it.The difference is significant and more subtle than itappears, for while God may, as in "The Gardener," or may notbe present in the worlds which Kipling creates (for all hisunorthodoxy and skepticism, Kipling was not an atheist), theresponsibility to make peace with life and find meaning inexistence rests entirely with the individual. There is solacefor John Otho in his craft, if he can find it. The conquestof the beast gives meaning to the sacrifice of the flintworkerof the chalk, but it is a meaning as much to be endured assavored. Like Holden and Ameera, the redemption offered toHelen Turrell is dependent upon her identification andperformance of ritual in a renewed and vital form. Thestandard rituals of grief are unavailable to Helen in herofficial capacity as aunt rather than mother. The dispatchingof documents and requests for information regarding themissing "nephew" merely leave her confused and numb. But thecompassion and guidance of the man tending plants at the33cemetery represent an open door. For Helen, whose namesake isa Christian saint thought to be a British princess and thediscoverer of the "true cross" of Christ, the quest formeaning and hope for reconciliation is dependent, as was MaryMagdalene's nearly two millennia before, on her recognition ofthe "Gardener" as "Rabboni; which is to say, Master," (John20:16) and of his divine authority to name Michael her son.34Chapter TwoStructureI used to think seeln' and hearin' was the only regulationaids to ascertainin' facts, but as we get older we get moreaccomodatin'"Mrs Bathurst,"Traffics and Discoveries I reckon there's more things told than are true.And more things true than are told."The Ballad of Minepit Shaw,"Rewards and Fairies In 1904, in the midst of what is generally considered hismiddle period, Kipling published two stories, "They" and "Mrs.Bathurst," which demonstrate a "highly organized and almostincredibly complex pattern of parallelisms, cross referencesand interconnections. . . where one must expect practicallyevery word and sentence to be [as] indispensable to the wholeas a sequence of bars in a Beethoven quartet" (Bodelsen 121).In short, the complexity, the sheer density of these storiesmark them as the beginnings of a decidedly Modernist tendencyin Kipling's work.It was a development well before its time, if contemporaryresponses are any indication. A review of "They" in TheLiterary Digest (October 1, 1904) emphasizes the confusion thestory wrought in its readers and offers excerpts ofexplications from a number of journals. Reviews of Traffics and Discoveries, the volume that contains "They" and "Mrs.Bathurst," in The Contemporary Review (November 1904) and TheTimes Literary Supplement (October 7, 1904) likewise complainof Kipling's change in style. The anonymous author of the TLS35article especially laments the loss of "life, colour, form,even simplicity, as Mr. Kipling had them years ago" in hisstories, and contends with photographic images that make ussuspect he was thinking of "Mrs. Bathurst":These hard, over exposed photographs are not pictures;the details are far too harsh; they drag the eye indifferent directions. Where is Rossetti's"fundamental brain work," that should take all thesescattered bits and fuse them as that instantaneousclick of the shutter can never do? (TLS 304)In fact, as C. A. Bodelsen points out, this new technique"baffled most of his readers, and lost him [much of] hisformer popularity." The response was so strong and so clearlynegative that "for some time after 1904 Kipling did notcontinue his experiments in his new technique, and when heresumed it in Rewards and Fairies (1910), he handled it withmuch more moderation than in 'Mrs. Bathurst'" (Bodelsen 120-121). Nevertheless, these stories mark a startlingly matureintroduction of complex Modernist structure in Kipling's work.There is no dearth of examples of "color, form, [and]simplicity" in the structure of Kipling's early stories. ThePlain Tales From the Hills, 28 of which appeared first as"filler" in the Civil and Military Gazette of Allahabad, aswell as most of the Soldiers Three and Military Tales, followa straight-ahead journalistic narrative form. This, inaddition to the mannerisms about which many critics habituallycomplain, including his direct address to the Reader and the11 . . . but that is another story" tease, clearly identify the36early tales as the newspaper columns they were originallyintended to be. Much of the freshness and vitality, "life andcolor" of these early stories, which lifted into relief thestrangely familiar and yet mystic Indian subcontinent for theVictorian Englishman at home, originates in the journalisticrealism of Kipling's early style.As the stories in the early collections progress andKipling's journalistic "I" begins to relinquish the role ofprimary narrator, frequently to dialect speakers such as theIrish, Cockney and Yorkshire privates of the military tales, aframing process begins to appear in the stories. Theorchestration of themes between frame and story is asignificant aspect of structure in Kipling's early work, andis deftly handled in "The Courting of Dinah Shadd."The serial reader of Kipling's stories in 1895 would havebeen very familiar with the character of Terrance Mulvaney,one of the author's three spokesmen for the private soldiersof the Victorian Empire, but would have known little of hisfictional background. The central narrative of "The Courtingof Dinah Shadd" is Mulvaney's explanation of the traumas ofhis life, and that of his wife, as the result of a curse laidon them by "ould Mother Sheehy," the mother of Judy Sheehy,whose affections Mulvaney had toyed with and rejected. Theburden of Terrance's story, the theme, is the terrible andlifelong impact of this meaningless and irresponsible,flirtation. For balance, and to prepare the reader for thatwhich is to come, the frame story then, is a natural37progression of examples of unforeseen results flowing fromseemingly insignificant incidents.The narration begins with Kipling's "I" narrator observing"the camp of exercise," a war game held among the severalregiments stationed in this particular corner of India.Through the kindness of the officers in providing a few younggoats for the men, the government's experiment with"Erbsenwurst, tinned beef of surpassing tinniness, compressedvegetables, and meat biscuits" (MT II 103) to nourish thetroops, is made of no effect. The failure of the Southernarmy to secure and guard their lines of supply andcommunication before rushing forward toward their seeminglyunguarded objective results in the capture and loss of anentire regiment. Even the unlovely sight of a private"strategically greasing his feet" by firelight leads thenarrator to "reflect on the exact proportion of the 'might,majesty, dominion and power' of the British Empire whichstands on those feet" (MT II 105). In the clearest imagery ofall the frame examples, the narrator, sensing Mulvaney'stroubles, encourages the Irishman to talk:"Begin at the beginning and go on to the end," Isaid royally. "But rake up the fire a bit, first."I passed Ortheris's bayonet for a poker."That shows how little we know what we do," saidMulvaney, putting it aside. "Fire takes all the heartout av the steel, an' the next time, maybe, that ourlittle man is fighting for his life his bradawl'llbreak, an' so you'll ha' killed him, manin' no more38than to kape yourself warm. 'Tis a recruity's thrickthat. Pass the clanin'-rod, Sorr." (MT 110)By means of this series of items and incidents in the frame,not only does Kipling foreground his theme,--in Mulvaney'swords "for all we take we must pay, but the price is cruelhigh"--he also very deftly and subtly passes the narrativethrough the hands of various characters, adding a significantbreadth of dimension and color within each entry. Though thefull potential of this technique of multiple narrators wouldbe realized later, particularly in "Mrs. Bathurst," thenarration of Mulvaney's story must rest at last with Mulvaney.Through this central character's recollections of the past andobservations of the story's present, Kipling ties all togetherinto a powerful evocation of his theme.The tenderly haunting images of "They" (the more tender,perhaps, because of the freshness of the wound--Kipling's ownbeloved daughter Josephine died just five years before thestory's publication in 1904) are presented in the narrativewithout a frame. Rather, while the narration is carried byKipling's "I," the clues to the meaning of the story aresupplied by a variety of characters, each of whom seems to bemore knowledgeable than the narrator, but reticent to say allthat he or she knows.Bodelsen posits this "veritable cult of indirectness andconcealment" as a structural marker of Kipling's "late manner"(Bodelsen 100), and indeed Kipling uses it to great effect in39heightening the mystic enchantment that pervades the story.While the narrator confesses early on that there may be "oneor two reasons" for his fondness of children, the knowledge ofhis loss and consequently the motive for his compassion andthe depth of his pain are concealed until the moment ofrelief. The result is that the reader experiences theaccumulated blend of emotion in a single rush of discovery,rather than in stages as a companion to the main speaker.Likewise the blind woman, the narrator's guide in the way-house of children's spirits, confesses her consuming love "forthe children" at every stage of the story, but for a greatwhile can only express wonder at his limited perceptions. Inthis she is supported by the butler and certain charactersfrom the village whose attitudes assure the narrator, and thereader that, eventually, they will come to understand. Theverbal explication of concepts must wait on the narrator'senlightenment through experience.If the narrator's sense of confusion, of being excludedfrom specific knowledge of circumstances, even while beingincluded within their influential realm, is lost on thereader, the author/narrator seems quite willing to get alittle of his own back in certain obscure references withinthe text. I admit my own mystification at the figure of "theEgg" 1 the blind woman "traced on the rug" (T&D 354) inWith Kipling, the first suspicion must be that this is aMasonic symbol. A. G. Mackey, however, compiler of TheEncyclopedia of Free Masonry, after a long appreciation of theegg as a symbol of new or renewed life, dispels this idea withthe observation: "It is strange that it [the egg] has found noplace in the symbolism of Free Masonry." If the symbol is drawn40illustration of the colors she "feels" in the emotions ofothers. The concept is communicated with sufficient claritythat the reader is left to wonder, along with the narrator,just how the knowledge was acquired and what more it mightmean.Nevertheless, if indirection, reticence and concealmentcomprise one structural aspect of Kipling's more mature, moreModernist work, the use of clues, or "pointers" as Bodelsencalls them, subtly embedded in the work form another. In"They," he points out:The phrase that the narrator comes from "the otherside of the county" is repeated six times. Itsignifies, of course [along with his passage through adark, tunnel-like grove carpeted with dead leaves],that he is a visitor from the country of the living tothe country of the dead. (Bodelsen 110)The narrator's view of the spirit children, moreover, isalways obscured by distant windows, screens or panels, orhedges of yew, wreaths of which are traditional in mourning.The living must be separated, if only transparently, from thedead. Indeed, the narrator's entry road to the other worldlyrealm is guarded by great knights of clipped yew, and the eyesof his guide are dead as to the flesh, but alive to thespirit. As Virgil to the Dante of "They," the blind women isloquacious of speech, yet mysteriously reticent of meaning.from the mystic practices of Hindu, Buddhist, or other Indianbeliefs to which Kipling was exposed as a child, he does not seemto feel any compulsion to reveal the source.41In keeping with the general tenor of the story, theambiguity and reticence of "They" is more gentle certainlythan that of "Mrs. Bathurst" or others of the late stories.The narrator's inability to perceive, much less describe, whathappens to him invites us to fill in the story with what wecan feel. We cannot say precisely what occurs, but sharinghis tender sorrow leads us to imagine things that mightproduce such a feeling in ourselves.The use of indirection, concealment and obscurity in aModernist text such as "They," in addition to the meaningsrevealed by Dr. Bodelsen's pointers, working on asemiconscious or even subconscious level, often carriesmeaning in itself. The very presence of doubt, when it isbuilt into the story structure, becomes an element of meaning.Of all Kipling's stories, "Mrs. Bathurst" may be the richestin this type of meaning, as it is certainly the most indirect,the most concealed, and the most obscure.Bodelsen calls his chapter on "Mrs. Bathurst," "TheHardest of All the Stories". Gilbert refers to it as "soelusive, so astonishingly reticent in [its] structure andsyntax. . . that [its] very existence constitutes a puzzlewhich seems forever beyond solution" (Gilbert 94). Indeed, toclass it, as Gilbert has, "among some of the most doggedlyinexplicable fiction written in the 20th century" (Gilbert 77)may be quite accurate and no overstatement, though he proceedsto give an extended and creditable explication. Martin42Seymour-Smith finds "the 'meaning' of the story as dense asthat of a Shakespeare play or a Hardy novel," and as such"'Mrs. Bathurst' comes into the category of supremeliterature" (Seymour-Smith 310). And while David Lodge admitsthat Kipling does not indulge in the kind of stylisticexperiment by means of which writers like Joyce, Woolfand Lawrence attempted to render the workings of thesubjective consciousness and the unconscious. . . therelationship between the story and the telling of itin Kipling's work is often highly unorthodox, makingit as teasingly ambiguous, as difficult, and"polysemous" as that of the acknowledged ModernMasters. (Lodge 71)Lodge's examination of "Mrs. Bathurst" as an example of"Indeterminacy in Modern Narrative," provides not only asummary of the chain of communication that operates in awritten narrative, but a "Chinese box" diagram of thenarrative structure, demonstrating what he sees as theintegration of the stories of the various narrators into aseries of frames for the elusive kernel of the story. Whilethe issues of real and implied authors and readers figurestrongly in Lodge's argument, it is the presence of multiplenarrators and narratees in "Mrs. Bathurst," an extension andextremely complex development of techniques already examinedin "They" and "The Courting of Dinah Shadd," that are mostsignificant to the meaning that Bodelsen says "must exist" in"Mrs. Bathurst."43The obscurity of the story makes it difficult to summarizeeffectively, and that difficulty is compounded by the factthat at no point does either Mrs. Bathurst or Warrant OfficerM. "Click" Vickery, the story's central characters, ever turnup to give their own accounts. The complex relationshipbetween Mrs. Bathurst, the gracious keeper of a seaman'stavern in Hauraki, New Zealand, whose image somehow appears inan early cinematograph, debarking at Paddington station, andher obsessive admirer (and by inference, but never clearstatement, much more), is communicated in the course ofconversation between four narrators, each of whom possessesonly fragments of the presumed full story. Worse, the sum oftheir intelligence in the matter is fragmentary still, and thereader is left to speculate with the narrators what, ifanything, it all may mean.Kipling's narrators in "Mrs. Bathurst" include:"I:" primarily a receptor and interpreter of thenonverbal signals produced by the other narrators. Healso provides the external frame of the story withdescriptions of setting and current circumstances;Marine Sergeant Pritchard: who introduces the maincharacter of Mrs. Bathurst through personalrecollection;Naval petty officer Pyecroft: who in like fashioninforms of Vickery's background and of his strangebehavior and eventual disappearance, and;Inspector Hooper of the Cape Government Railways: thediscoverer of two bodies charred by a lightening44strike beside a remote section of rail, one of whichanswers to Vickery's physical description.In Lodge's analysis, "I's" account of their surroundings andthe other information he provides, frames the narratives ofeach of the succeeding narrators. Pritchard's frames that ofPyecroft and Hooper. Pyecroft, with the preceding two, framesHooper's account of the discovery, and the four together frame"a hole, an absence, an insoluble enigma" (Lodge 77), thatexists where the crucial, closure providing incident oughtto be.The narrative line, too, without consideration of thespeakers, describes a series of frames that emphasize orilluminate the central events. The fortuitous gathering ofall four narrators on the beach at False Bay is the result ofvarious missteps, misunderstandings and false starts.Kipling's "I" is present because the H.M.S. Peridot he wassupposed to tour (named for an olivine stone occasionally usedas a faux gem), left without him. His meeting with Hooper ispurely accidental, as is their discovery by Pyecroft andPritchard in the sidetracked rail car Hooper uses as anoffice. At first the sailor and Marine are mistaken by Hooperfor "dirty little Malay boys, " and their noisy presenceoutside the car interrupts his account of finding what arepresumably Vickery's false teeth. As introductions are madeand Hooper offers the servicemen bottles of cheap local beer,Pyecroft produces a quart of "Bass" obtained by Pritchard'sintrigue with a housemaid down the rail line. This, too, hemodestly dismisses as a mistake: "I shouldn't wonder if she45mistook me for MacLean. We're about of a size" (T&D 382).The resulting discussion leads the men to recount the infamousdeception perpetrated upon them and others by "Boy Niven, wholured seven or eight able-bodied seamen and marines into thewoods of British Columbia" (T&D 384), on the promise of freefarmland if they would desert with him. This, they discover,is another false lead. "'A day an' a night--eight of us--followin' Boy Niven round an uninhabited island in theVancouver Archipelago! Then the picket came for us an' a nicepack o' idiots we looked!'" (T&D 384). At the resulting courtmartial the officers determined, wrongly, it was the "ableseaman an' promisin' Marines 'ad misled Boy Niven" (T&D 384),and were to be punished. Each circumstance leads--ormisleads--to the next as the participants proceed step by steptoward the eventual intimacy of a shared narrative.The subject of desertion brings Vickery to Pyecroft'smind, and after a misunderstanding regarding Hooper'scuriosity about the missing warrant officer, he begins hisnarration of Vickery's strange behavior in Capetown. Thestory again is sidetracked when Pritchard interrupts with adescription and defense of Mrs. Bathurst's character. (Forthat matter, the lives of both Vickery and Mrs. Bathurst mustbe viewed as an example of false starts. Mrs. Bathurst is awidow of long-standing, Vickery becomes a widower, and the twotogether seem to be engaged in an illicit affair--we must say'seem to be' because we aren't permitted to know.) WhenPyecroft resumes, he recounts in full all that he knows ofVickery's obsession with Mrs. Bathurst, or rather with her46image as exhibited in an early, and to 1903 audiences noveland extremely real, cinematograph, and of his eventualdisappearance "up-country," presumably in pursuit of thatimage. The collection of partial narratives culminates inHooper's report on the charred remains of two tramps foundbeside the tracks in "the dead end of a siding," far up in theteak, struck by lightening. Hooper's description of the onestanding body, including his tattoos--"You know how thewriting shows up white on a burned letter? Well, it was likethat, you see" (T&D 408)--fits Vickery, completely. The falseteeth we are led to believe he has in his pocket he does notproduce, and we and the narrators are left to puzzle out whatwe can of the lives of Vickery and Mrs. Bathurst.In analyzing the story, or collection of stories, Lodgedefends his concept of a hollow, four-framed enigmaeffectively. "Paradoxically," he contends, "indeterminacy ofmeaning leads to an increase of meaning, because it demandsmore interpretive effort by the reader" (Lodge 71). Nor isLodge alone in his belief that the event, whatever it may be,that resides at the core of the story is unknowable. Gilbertholds that "the newsreel itself and the newsreel-likestructure of the story," wherein characters and incidentsappear briefly in frame then disappear leaving no hope of anyfurther enlightenment, a structure modern both by trope and bydefinition, "supports Kipling's theme of the accidentalness oflife" (Gilbert 98). Philip Mason concurs, describing "Mrs.Bathurst" as "an interrupted series of fragmentary pictures,the kind of tantalizing glimpses that in real life we do47suddenly get of other people's lives, and the effect of thefragmentation is cumulative and powerful" (Mason 144). Theimages of "Mrs. Bathurst" are harsh and overexposed, as notedby the anonymous TLS reviewer in 1904. They do, indeed, "dragthe eye in different directions," as they were intended to do,to replicate the gathering of information as it naturallyoccurs, in unconnected bits and irreconcilable snatches.Regarding the question that "for some reason [whichobviously eludes him] has always been the most controversialof all the 'Mrs. Bathurst' problems, the identity of thesecond tramp" (Gilbert 111), Gilbert is certain that blindfate has provided a mere random companion to call attention toVickery's standing posture by sitting. It is yet anotherexample of a universe as hollow as the story itself. Seymour-Smith agrees enthusiastically:"The ultimate secret!" he says. "That is whatGilbert omits to mention, as I also do . . . That iswhat lies behind this masterpiece: The secret thathas not yet been discovered. There is somethingfactual here, a circumstantial truth, which is soterrifying that we should be unable to bear it if weknew. (Seymour-Smith 321)It is the eternal mystery of our neighbors' lives, artfullyrevealed as we would naturally see it: Fragmentary,unexplained, and in this particular case, horrific.48The ambiguity of "Mrs. Bathurst," however, is not builtupon the single structural component of indeterminatenarrative. As in "They," the elusive clues for which Kiplingis justly famous abound in this story and enhance itspolysemous nature by admitting, though not necessarilyconfirming, other readings.Nora Crook, in her study of Kipling's Myths of Love andDeath, notes that one of the difficulties to be overcome inany current analysis of "Mrs. Bathurst" is an absence of thesame "mental furniture" that Kipling's contemporary reader mayhave had. This "furniture" would have included, of course, aknowledge of the Boer War and its recent settlement; the stateof transportation and communication technology, (as ships,trains and the infant cinema figure prominently in the story);and, according to Crook, the "once-celebrated militarytragedy" of Major-General Sir Hector MacDonald (Crook 71).The circumstances of the tragedy are connected to Kiplingin many ways and give every indication of his awareness of theevents. MacDonald began his military career as a privatesoldier, a "Tommy" who rose by "courage and ability" (Crook72) to his position of command. He served in Afghanistan andlater in South Africa, parts of the Empire in which Kiplingwas emotionally invested, and had been promoted by Kipling'sfriend and hero, Lord Roberts. All three, Kipling, Robertsand MacDonald, shared a "passionate belief in the necessityfor a conscript army" (Crook 73), which MacDonald hadsupported with lecture tours just as Kipling supported it withhis story "The Army of a Dream." Moreover, MacDonald was the49surname of Kipling's maternal family line, "and though the twomen were not related, Kipling regarded himself as a member ofthe clan" with apparent pride (Crook 173). His cognizance ofsuch a prominent contemporary figure with whom he shared somany ties of interest would be expected and natural.In February 1903, a date very close to the fictitiousevents of "Mrs. Bathurst," MacDonald was recalled to Londonfrom Ceylon (where he had been transferred at the end of thewar) to face an in camera hearing at the War Office,reportedly regarding his alleged homosexual activities withCeylonese boys in a railway carriage. This, of course, isreminiscent of Hooper's reference to "dirty little Malay boys"outside his rail car office (T&D 380-81). At the conclusionof the hearing, MacDonald was ordered back to Ceylon to endurea court martial. Instead, the General stopped at the ReginaHotel in Paris and committed suicide with a pistol.Crook's conclusion, which she supports in far more detailthan can be recounted here, is that the story of "Mrs.Bathurst" is in part a reaction to, or inspired by, the eventsof the MacDonald case. While her analysis is admittedlybiographical, or at least has biographical footings, thisshould neither surprise nor make us wary. Many of Kipling'sstories and characters were clearly drawn from his lifeexperience. "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" he presented as and nodoubt believed to be autobiography. Florence Garrard, thereluctant object of his youthful devotion, appears in variousstories always as the selfishly ambitious female, incapable oflove. Indeed, as Seymour-Smith points out, part of the early50appeal of Kipling's Anglo-Indian stories was the Simla parlorgame of identifying the originals of his characters.Nevertheless, his stories were never mere recountings ofactual occurrences. Always Kipling's art and craft come intoplay, transplanting real characters into fictive circumstancesand nurturing the seed of an incident into a fully developedcreative work. Certainly the timing of this story and theincidental details admit Crook's interpretation. Likewise,her assertion that Vickery's companion in the teak is BoyNiven fits well as a comment on the MacDonald tragedy. It isa possibility permitted but not necessarily required by theaccounts of two of the narrators.Boy Niven's function in the story is that of a corruptor.His seducing of the seamen and Marines to desert, "very youngan' very curious. . . but lovin' an' trustful" (T&D 384), isrepresentative of other seductions to which sailors andmarines long at sea have traditionally been rumored to besusceptible. The character's name, "Boy" Niven, itself hashomoerotic implications, and the beating to which he istreated when his companions "came out of cells" is thetraditional reward for the seducer of lonely sailors when atlast they come ashore.A further support to Crook's argument, at least as toNiven's nature if not as to his presence, is to be found in aconsideration of the names of the ships in which Pyecroft,Pritchard and others involved in the Vancouver incident laterserved. The name of the vessel from which they attempted todesert is not given, but from there, Pyecroft was transferred51to the Palladium, a safeguard, and Moon and possibly Quigleywere sent to the Astrild, called after a South African birdoften kept as a caged pet. Those sailors we have knowledge ofwere sent, after Vancouver, where they could be watched andprotected. As he recounts his portion of the story, Pyecroftis assigned to, and refers to himself as, a Hierophant orinterpreter of events. Pritchard serves aboard the Agaric,named for a fungus used to transform oak, the wood from whichMen-of-War are constructed, into punk, a material used toignite the fuses of explosives, but also a well knownEdwardian slang term for homosexuals. Given Kipling's habitof referring to homosexuality as "perversion," the result of"unclean microbes" (SofM 22), it is not at all beyond him torepresent homosexual temptation as a fungus to transform theoaken strength of the senior service into "punk," theperverted igniter of explosive trouble.Crook contends then, that the logical candidate for theposition of Second Tramp, the one most clearly hinted at bythe clues, is Boy Niven, and that Niven had become inVickery's deranged mind a substitute for Mrs. Bathurst.Vickery had warned Pyecroft that he felt entirely out ofcontrol of himself, and Pyecroft worried that, "deprived of'is stimulant," the film of Mrs. Bathurst, Vickery mightbecome violent. That he was deprived of the cinematic specterof his obsession while wandering up country is a given. Thathe was unable to withstand the torment the events of his lifehad produced, and was therefore not to be held responsible for52his actions, would form a plausible explanation, for Kipling,for the alleged missteps of the admired MacDonald.But the attitude of the corpses shows that he has notmurdered his companion. There is, however, anotherviolent act which someone in his position might commitespecially if, deprived of the film ("'is stimulant"),he had filled the void with his own fantasies and cometo mistake his 'mate' for his dead mistress restoredto life. This is sodomy, which in 1904 was a crime.Vickery and his companion standing in the 'dead end'of the siding would have both participated and henceboth incurred the Biblical punishment - destruction byfire from heaven. (Crook 71)The voluntary, explosive, and self-obliterating nature ofVickery's death, standing upright by the tracks to draw thelightening that would kill him, would be a reflection too ofMacDonald's violent death in a room of Kipling's favoriteParis hotel.In the end however, it must be emphasized that whereverthe clues and allusions may lead, they do not provide evidenceof a single definitive interpretation. Here again, theindeterminacy of the narrative comes into play, casting asdeep shadows on a critic's interpretation of the components ofthe story, as it does upon that of Pyecroft, Pritchard andHooper. For if Nora Crook, or for that matter Elliot Gilbertor Martin Seymour-Smith, had hit upon that absent something atthe story's core "so terrifying that we should be unable tobear it," how should we know? The horror of the narrators,53which Crook attributes to their presumed discovery of theVickery/Niven/Bathurst liaison, is founded upon theirdemonstrably fallible judgment, and is questionable in themost literal sense. We dare not believe their conclusions, aswe know their understanding to be incomplete. We dare notdisbelieve them, not knowing what else they may know or whatthey may not. Certainly Hooper betrays a greater knowledgethan he is willing to explain when he responds to Pyecroft'saccount of Vickery's wanderings with the exclamation, "Whatwalks! . . . Oh, my soul, what walks!" (T&D 420).Ultimately, "Mrs. Bathurst" is an essentially Modernist,even Post-Modernist, narrative about narratives, demonstratingnot only how little we know, but how little it is possible forus to know of the minds and souls of those around us. If, asCrook postulates, this is Kipling's reaction to the tragedy ofGeneral Sir Hector MacDonald as it well may be, it is also anexploration of a much wider principle expanding far beyond anddeep within the world of the story itself: That the greatineffable horror at the core of the story is as muchunnameable in its horror as it is horrible for being unnamed.The impressive pairing of theme and structure in "Mrs.Bathurst" demonstrating the inability to know by the honestignorance of the four narrators, and the horror of theunknowable by our inability to understand their horror, isgenerally held as a bench mark of density in Kipling'sfiction. While its reputation as "the hardest of all the54stories" is well founded, there are others which approach thishigh standard, but which have not, perhaps, been appreciatedin that respect, "The Gardener" and "Mary Postgate" amongthem. In this light, and of "Mary Postgate" in particular,Norman Page has written, "There are good grounds for believingthat, nearly 70 years after the story's first appearance,Kipling's intentions [in this context his "art"] are still notfully and generally appreciated" (Page 41).The questions Kipling leaves open in "The Gardener" inviteus to apply ourselves to the interpretation with no guaranteeour answers will be confirmed. Indeed, the clear intent ofthe story is to mislead, up to the crucial point ofrecognition. Whether the gardener is a Christ figure in theform of a tenderly compassionate mortal, or the Christ figuremistaken yet again for "the gardener" as Mary Magdalene hadmistaken him millennia before, makes little difference toKipling's theme of the pain of repression and the burdenVictorian society imposes upon its straying members topreserve decency. Whether this man who plants flowers amongthe "merciless sea of black crosses," (D&C 351), is divinelycognizant of naming Helen's "nephew" her son, or whether he isan uncomprehendingly inspired agent, he extends to Helen agreat mercy in the permission to grieve openly for her child.Whether this mercy is beyond her capacity to receive, wecannot know.In "Mary Postgate" Kipling offers a more bitter treatmentof similar characters and themes. As domestic companion toMiss Fowler, the bland and ungainly Mary is de facto governess55and surrogate mother to Miss Fowler's nephew, Wynn. (Thepossibility raised by Crook that Wynn is Miss Fowler's nephewas Michael is Helen's, seems remote and is in any caseinconsequential). The natural maternal affection she lavisheson the boy is thoughtlessly repaid in abuse and scorn, evenwhen he returns home from training in the Flying Corps,presumably a mature young man. Wynn's death during a trainingflight leaves Mary, like Helen, to devise and deal with therituals of grief. With Miss Fowler, she sorts through Wynn'sbelongings, sets aside a very few keepsakes, and prepares toburn all that remains.In town to buy paraffin for the pyre, Mary witnesses thedeath of little Edna Gerritt. Though the local doctorcontends that the collapse of the barn which killed the childresulted from rotting timbers, Mary is certain that Edna isthe victim of a German bomb. The Germans to her are paganmonsters, and she is certain "Wynn was a gentleman who for noconsideration on earth would have torn little Edna into thosevividly colored strips and strings" (DofC 438). As she setsalight the artifacts of Wynn's young life, with "the matchthat would burn her heart to ashes" (DofC 435-36), the firereveals to Mary an injured German flier groaning at the footof the tree in the garden. Rather than summoning aid, Maryassumes the role of woman whose "business was to make a happyhome for - for a husband and children. Failing these - it wasnot a thing one should allow one's mind to dwell upon - but -"(DofC 440). Standing by in cold passion, Mary watches herenemy's death with unflinching satisfaction.56For most of Page's "nearly seventy years," the standardresponse to "Mary Postgate" has been dismissive, ranking it asmerely another of Kipling's revenge stories. Yet here again,as in "Mrs. Bathurst," a more careful consideration of theclues implanted in the story-- for "the rigorously andsometimes excessively economical art of Kipling's laternarratives tolerates no irrelevance, however trivial" (Page42)-- reveals the possibility of a much more subtle andpowerful story than such narrow interpretations admit.A close look at Mary's German flier provides some of theclearest indications that more is going on in the story thanthe taking of revenge. To appreciate them, however, we needfirst to look at the relationship between Mary and her Englishflier, Wynn. Crook very correctly points out, "There are goodreasons for Mary to hate Wynn. He has never said anaffectionate or grateful word, for all her slaving for him,but on the contrary has thumped her and torn strips off her"(Crook 136-7) reminiscent of "those vividly coloured stripsand strings" into which little Edna was torn. And althoughMary preserves in her own mind the fiction that "Wynn was agentleman [which he certainly was not] who for noconsideration on earth" would have done such a thing asdropping bombs, she ignores the fact that his training in theFlying Corps was to teach him to do just that. Thecallousness and cruelty which kindles Mary's hatred of theGerman flier and his special pleading for her favors at hisneed, which infuriates her, are typical of Wynn. They are, infact, the heinous causes of offense that Mary holds, and57vehemently denies holding, against her young and now vanishedcharge. The pain that Wynn has caused in Mary's life and herhabitual repression of her tender feelings toward him, whetheroffered in love or smarting in rebuke, lead both Crook andPage to conclude that the German flier is a phantom of Mary'sown creation, and an acceptable means for her to vent her rageagainst Wynn.Considerations of the "German's" dress, his speech, andhis suspiciously coincidental appearance in Miss Fowler'sgarden offer further support for the flier as a product ofMary's hysteria. Upon her discovery of the injured airman,Mary notes "he was dressed. . . in a uniform something likeWynn's with a flap buttoned across the chest" (DofC 436). Yetthe German uniform of the era was single-breasted, with a highcollar. The only image of an air-warrior that Mary'simagination could produce would necessarily wear the onlyFlying Corps uniform she had ever seen, Wynn's and that of the"two young men [at the funeral] in buttoned-up uniforms [who]stood beside the grave and spoke to her afterward" (DofC 427).Indeed, at first she wonders if the fallen aviator might beone of them.When the broken ("tout casse6" - all broken) Prussianspeaks, it is significant that he does not speak German. Hiswords are an amalgam of German-accented English, addressingMary as "Laty!" and very bad, nearly indecipherable, French.His only German word, "Toctor" is an English cognate whichMary might readily be expected to understand. With herelementary understanding of the German language, as58demonstrated by her flawed but intelligible reply to thespecter, Mary could not be expected to understand theemotional pleadings of the native speaker. Neither could hersubconscious imagination provide words for her hystericalcreation in a language she did not command. It must thereforeprovide the most foreign sounding concoction it is able todredge up, a combination of words from three languages, allspoken with German pronunciation.The appearance of the hallucination, moreover, occurs juston the heels of Mary's thought that Wynn would have enjoyedthe light of such a fire. The explanation of the fallenflyer's presence, that it is "quite possible for people tofall out of aeroplanes. . . [and] that trees were usefulthings to break an aviator's fall" (DofC 437), had likewisebeen provided by Wynn in idle and flamboyant conversation.Even the airplane from which Mary is certain her specter musthave fallen had dubious beginnings in the spinster'simagination as she walked into town. "She could almost hearthe beat of his [Wynn's] propellers overhead" (DofC 432), shethought. But by the time the doctor tries to convince herthat the barn which killed Edna collapsed of dry rot, hersuggestion has grown into a certainty. "'I saw it,' said Maryshaking her head. 'I heard it too'" (DofC 432). While wecannot doubt Mary's belief in what she saw, neither are wefree from doubt that her experience is anything other than thehysterical product of repressed anger, frustration and rage.Like the critics who puzzle her story out, Mary is entirelycapable of constructing her own interpretation of events.59It is only through a very careful reading in fact, thatthe clues which reveal Mary's hysteria become apparent. Sosubtle is the reticence of Kipling's narrator, so integral arethe clues to the narrative process, so transparent, as Eliotsays, is the writing, that it can hardly be called a matter ofmisreading to believe the reality that Mary herself creates.It seems unlikely that such perceptive critics as GeorgeOrwell and Edmund Wilson, both of whom took the tale at facevalue and reviled it as a mere revenge story, could easilyfall into the trap of the unreliable narrator. Rather, whatKipling has created is such a perfect emulation of derangedfantasy, that the ambiguity, or ambivalence, exists as much inthe mind of the reader as on the page. Our entry into Mary'sworld is so seamless and real that we are hardly prepared, andnearly prevented, from seeing the aberrations of self delusionin which we almost feel we have participated.As in "Mrs. Bathurst," the indeterminacy of the narrativestructure enhances the ambiguity of both "The Gardener" and"Mary Postgate," and entices the reader to look carefully atthe deeper tints and hues. There is a difference, however, inthe narrator's role in creating ambiguity between "Mrs.Bathurst" and the two later stories. While "Mrs. Bathurst"'stheme of the incompleteness of narrative is illustrated bynarrators whose knowledge is both individually andcollectively incomplete, in "The Gardener" and "Mary Postgate"the theme of repression is abetted by a narrator whose60ambiguous neutrality permits us, if we will, to continue inpossible error, while scrupulously not hindering our discoveryof possible truth. Consequently, while the trail offalsehoods that covers the facts of Michael Turrell'sillegitimate birth are recounted in the opening paragraph of"The Gardener," the narrator does not tell us it is so. Hetells us only that "everyone in the village" knew it to be so.While providing good and sufficient reason to doubt theidentity and even the existence of the German flier in "MaryPostgate," the narrator assures us that "There was no doubt asto his nationality" (DofC 436). The question of whether thatunspecified but indisputable nationality was actually Germanor Mary's hysterical construction of a German, goesunanswered. Once again, as in "Mrs. Bathurst," the narrativestrategy in telling the tale is remarkably well suited to thetheme.Finally, there is a certain cosmic significance, withinthe context of his works, to Kipling's use of reticence,ambiguity and indeterminacy as structural components. Whilethe themes of repression and the horror of the unknowabledominate "The Gardener," "Mary Postgate" and "Mrs. Bathurst,"implicit within those themes are the themes of abandonment andisolation. Helen Turrell is isolated in her secret grief forher son just as Holden is for the loss of his wife and childin "Without Benefit of Clergy." The position of "MaryPostgate" is as grossly misunderstood and unappreciated asthat of the flintworker in "The Knife and the Naked Chalk,"and the necessity to turn aside an abortive attempt at healing61by Stephen de Sautrê in "The Eye of Allah" is little differentfrom the suggested inability (though Kipling leaves thequestion open) of Helen Turrell to perceive proffered solacein "The Gardener."As the themes of isolation and abandonment within a randomand oblivious universe, or in the case of "The Gardener" auniverse that is minded but not necessarily governed by God,pervade Kipling's work, so it is necessary for Kipling ascreator of this universe to maintain a detachment, a distancepermitting the random universe to remain random, and notimpose a controlling order. This is certainly not to say thatKipling's stories lack order or control. The multitudinouslayers of meaning, "double-and-treble-figured, giving a newpattern in a shift of light" (PTH xi) require the moststringent organization and control and are the patterns ofgenius. The abandonment and isolation of the reader by adetached and unconcerned narrator, to struggle with the talejust as the characters also struggle in their search formeaning, is a component of that genius.62L'EnvoiSomething I owe to the soil that grew--More to the life that fed--But most to Allah Who gave me twoSeparate sides to my head."The Two-Sided Man"KimMartin Seymour-Smith is adamant in his opinion thatKipling "was not a part of" mainstream Modernism (Seymour-Smith 352). On balance he is probably correct not only inhis assessment, but in his approach to the definition.The complexity and the contradictions embodied in Kipling'swork suggest that in many ways it may be easier to definewhat Kipling is by what he is not. Eliot's 1941 essay inintroduction of his Choice of Kipling's Verse begins andends with the assertion that Kipling is not a poet,dedicated to the art form itself, but with intent a writerof verse whose work at times transcends the limits andbecomes poetry. Just how and when and why that transcendenttransformation occurs he cannot say. George Orwell's replyto Eliot puts the idea in different terms, but the criticstill finds it useful to define Kipling by what he is not.With qualified admiration for a "vulgar thought vigorouslyexpressed" (Orwell 159), Orwell contends that while Kiplingis not a good poet, his abilities lift him above the run ofbad poets. "One can perhaps," he says, "place Kipling moresatisfactorily . . . if one describes him as a good bad poet"(Orwell 156). Even his charge that Kipling "is a jingo63imperialist" is made only in support of the argument thatKipling is "not a Fascist" (Orwell 141).The same line of argument, however, can be followed towholly different conclusions. Kipling is not a jingoimperialist. Yes, he is belligerent. His attack on Irishactivists in Parliament in the poem "Cleared" is harsh, bitterand confrontational. Yes, he is chauvinist and imperialist,singing in his poetry the praises of England and the Empire ashe saw them, with division unthinkable and dissolutionunconscionable. "The Enlightenments of Paggett, M. P." detaila long list of reasons why this must be so. Yet Kipling isnot wholly belligerent and chauvinist. "Recessional," asdiscussed earlier, is a warning to his nation that the mereexercise of imperial power, in the absence of what Conrad'sMarlow terms the "idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea"(Conrad 7), invites the judgement of God, and that the Empireitself eventually will pass as "one with Nineveh and Tyre!"(FN 202). "The Man Who Would be King," among other stories,raises questions of competence and even of right in the ruleof one nation over another. If Kipling in one light is ajingo imperialist, a shift of the light reveals in him acritic of Empire and a moralist and Jeremiah to a nationprone, in his eyes, to "put her trust/ In reeking tube andiron shard" (FN 202).Kipling is not a racist, or again, at least not wholly so.The love he bears for India and his carefully cultivatedunderstanding of the people, their customs, beliefs andcharacter, are not consistent with the bigotry of racism.64Nirad C. Chaudhuri, whom Kipling's characters would havecalled a "Babu," while confessing his hurt at the "excessivedisplay of Anglo-Saxon pride" and contempt in many ofKipling's Indian stories, nevertheless considers Kim "not onlythe finest novel in the English language with an Indian theme,but also one of the greatest of English novels in spite ofthat theme" (Chauglhuri 47). The greatness of the novel heattributes, not to any dispassionate observation on Kipling'spart (Kipling is almost never dispassionate about India), butto:Kipling's vision of a much bigger India, a visionwhose profundity we Indians would be hard put to it tomatch . . . He had arrived at a true and moving senseof that India which is almost timeless, and had cometo love it.This India pervades all his books in greater orlesser degree and constitutes the foundation on whichhe weaves his contrapuntal patterns. (Chaudhuri 49)Kipling, whose slanderous characterizations of "natives" andwhose condescending dialogue in the mouths of "sahibs" givespainful offense, displays at the heart of his stories a lovefor India that gives birth to profound understanding. ShamsulIslam in his study of Kipling's Law, while acknowledgingKipling's apparent dislike of Hinduism as a system of belief,finds "that Kipling was deeply aware of Islamic literature andreligion, and that he made frequent use of these sources"(Islam 37). "The Head of the District," which Chaudhuri findsoffensive and Islam defends, demonstrates not only Kipling's65understanding and respect for Islamic culture, but an attitudethat speaks of Indian, not Anglo-Indian, prejudice. IfKipling is guilty of racism, it is of a curious varietymingled with knowledge and a brutal affection, the morehurtful because of its intimacy.The same defining process may be applied to Kipling'swork. Whatever else they may be, the stories are neithersimple nor trivial. I hardly dare to mention an exception toprove this rule, for fear of having overlooked thesignificance of what appears to be an example of simplicity ortriviality. As mentioned before, Boris Ford's analysis of"Mary Postgate" as merely a vehicle for Kipling's anti-Germanhysteria appears very shallow in the light of a closerreading. As a psychological study the story offers supportfor a number of interpretations, yet resists definitiveexplication. Crook sees similarities and specific allusionsto Chaucer's Prioress' Tale, presenting "Mary Postgate" as aMiracle of the Virgin genre tale. Roger Lancelyn Greenreports that Andrew Lang, who would later become one ofKipling's earliest and most ardent proponents, found hisintroduction to Kipling's work distasteful. Of "The Mark ofthe Beast" Lang wrote, "I would gladly give Ian [General SirIan Hamilton] a fiver if he had never been the means of myreading this poisonous stuff, which has left an extremelydisagreeable impression on my mind" (Green 14). Yet BonamyDobrêe finds in the story a complex example of Kipling'sattitude of respect toward all creeds and a forceful, ifgruesome, examination of how events "sometimes force people to66do what they would normally revolt from doing" (Dobrêe 136).Somewhat schizophrenically, Elliot Gilbert characterizes "TheBull That Thought" as both "the one [story] which most fullyexplores the relation of brutality to art . . . a moving anddelightful tale" and one which "may at any moment lapse into agrotesque 'portrait of the artist as a young bull'" (Gilbert169).There are stories that Kipling himself considered unworthyof print. The authorized edition of Abaft the Funnel was onlypublished to squelch an unauthorized American version in theabsence of international copyright agreements. Yet even here,"Sleipner--Late Thurinda" is an interesting tale of thesupernatural, drawing on sources in Norse mythology. Whilenone but the most mediocre authors' work is of consistentdensity throughout, and Kipling is hardly mediocre, it isdifficult to feel confident in pointing out examples ofmediocrity in his work. His deceptively unobtrusive themesand allusions, and the seamlessness of antithetical levels ofmeaning in his narrative structure make us wary, wondering ifperhaps what was read in full sun requires a lamp in a closeroom to reveal its finer patterns.Finally, Kipling is not a Modernist. There are, asdemonstrated, elements of theme and structure that appearthroughout his work as important and clearly Modernistcomponents of his distinctive style. Yet, as one who began topublish his work in the 1880's, chronology at the very leastis against the inclusion of Kipling among the Modernists.There are, moreover, certain "Victorian" elements to his work67as well. His subject matter certainly, his expansiveness andenergy, and his consistent fascination with the interactionbetween cultures have roots in the 19th century, even if theybear fruit, as they continue to do, in the 20th. Thisblending of Modernist themes and techniques with Victorianexperience, emphasizing as it does the issues that continue tochallenge us--nationalism, racial interaction, isolation andabandonment, and the incapacity of man's understanding--is thekey to Kipling's significance as a literary figure, in termsof both art and meaning, at the end of the 20th century asmuch and perhaps more than he was at the beginning.Elliot Gilbert theorized2 that Kipling, like Dante who wasalso born in a year numbered 65, was aware that his biblicallyallotted span of "three-score years and ten" would beprecisely divided between the two centuries in which he wouldlive. Consequently, Gilbert concluded, his works wouldreflect of division of style, a conscious effort todifferentiate his work of the 19th century from that ofthe 20th.Whether this particular theory holds up is open toquestion, but Gilbert is certainly not alone in noticing aform a duality in Kipling's work. Dobree styles Kipling asboth "Realist and Fabulist." Edmund Wilson contends that thepain and anger of the stories stem from the division of21n a discussion in his office, my first ever academicdiscussion of Rudyard Kipling.68Kipling's early childhood between the Eden of his parents'home in India and the purgatory of his boarding houseexistence in Southsea; a separation the child Rudyard couldnot logically comprehend and the adult Rudyard could notconfront. Seymour-Smith speculates (his word) that thedivisive tension is sexual, the result of homosexual urgessuppressed by heterosexual conventions. And Salman Rushdiepostulates a perpetual conflict between "Ruddy Baba" whosechildhood was spent in India and "Kipling Sahib" who wroteabout it from an Imperial perspective. The result, Rushdiesays, is that, "There will always be plenty in Kipling thatI will find difficult to forgive; but there is also enoughtruth in these stories to make them impossible to ignore"(Rushdie 80).The gem that is the art of Rudyard Kipling seems to be notbrilliant-cut--round, with every facet obliquely reflectingseveral others--but emerald-cut, with each facet having itsopposite parallel. The strident imperialism of Kipling'spublic pronouncements is reflected in mirror image in hisstories of the fate of empire. The cold physical brutality of"Sea Constables" illuminates by contrast the intellectualviolence of "The Eye of Allah." Even within individualstories such as "Mary Postgate" or "Mrs. Bathurst," the hardsurface of meaning in one interpretation bears on its face theshadowy reflection of another, opposing meaning. And though aparticular facet may flash brightly from one angle, we cannotbe sure that, in a shift of light, its counter will not appearof equal brilliance, quality and proportion, or that yet69another facet may not catch the light. The double- andtreble-figured creations of Kipling's art are of just such anunpredictable and delightful nature.0 there'll surely come a dayWhen they'll give you all your payAnd treat you as a Christian ought to do.So, until that day comes round,Heaven keep you safe and sound,And, Thomas, here's my best respects to you!"To T.A."Barrack-Room Ballads70WORKS CONSULTEDArata, Stephen D. "A Universal Foreigness: Kipling in theFin-de-Siecle." English Literature in Transition. 36:11993.Arnold, Matthew. The Poems of Matthew Arnold: 1840-1867. Ed.Sir A. T. Quiller-Couch London: Oxford U. P., 1913.Bentley, Eric, ed. The Importance of Scrutiny: Selections From Scrutiny: A Quarterly Review, 1932-1948. New York:New York UP, 1964.Berman, Marshall. All That is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity. New York: Simon & Schuster,1982.Carrington, C. E. The Life of Rudyard Kipling. Garden City,New York: Doubleday, 1956.Chaudhuri, Nirad C. "The Finest Story About India - InEnglish," Encounter, #43 v8 (April 1957): 47-53.Clayton, John J. Gestures of Healing: Anxiety and the ModernNovel. Amherst, Massachusetts: U of Massachusetts P,1991.Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: Norton, 1963.Cowley, Malcolm. Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the1920's. New York: Penguin, 1951 (1976).Dobr6e, Bonamy. Rudvard Kipling. London: Longmans, Green,1951.Eliot, T. S., ed. A Choice of Kipling's Verse. London:Faber & Faber, 1963.---, "The Unfading Genius of Rudyard Kipling," KiplingJournal. March 1959.Faulkner, Peter, ed. The English Modernist Reader, 1910-1930.Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 1986.Faulkner, Peter. Modernism. London: Methuen, 1977.Foot, Timothy. "Fifty Years On, '0 Best Beloved' Kipling IsMaking a Comeback." Smithsonian, v16 (January 1986): 34.Gilbert, Elliot L. The Good Kipling. Oberlin, Ohio: Ohio UP,1970.---, ed. Kipling and the Critics. New York: New York UP,1965.71Grant, Patrick. Six Modern Authors and Problems of Belief.London: Macmillan, 1979.Green, Roger Lancelyn, ed. Kipling: The Critical Heritage.London. Routledge, 1971.Gross, John, ed. The Age of Kipling. New York: Simon andSchuster, 1972.Hoffman, Frederick J. The Twenties: American Writing in thePost-War Decade. New York: Free Press, 1962.Islam, Shamsul. Kipling's Law: A Study of His Philosophy ofLife. New York: St. Martin's, 1975."Just So." Rev. of Just So (a musical review). TimesLiterary Supplement 30 Nov. 1990.Kamra, Sukeshi. Kipling's Vision: A Study in the Short Story.New Delhi: Prestige, 1989.Kipling, Rudyard. The Writings in Prose and Verse of RudyardKipling. Vols. I-XXV. New York: Scribner's, 1897-1911.Korg, Jacob. Language in Modern Literature: Innovation andExperiment. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1979.Levenson, Michael H. A Genealogy of Modernism: A Study of English Literary Doctrine 1908-1922. Cambridge: CambridgeUP, 1984.Lodge, David. "Indeterminacy in Modern Narrative." KiplingConsidered. Ed. Phillip Mallett. New York: St. Martin's,1989.Mason, Philip. Kipling: The Glass, The Shadow and The FireLondon: Jonathon Cape, 1975.Meyers, Jeffrey, ed. Hemingway: The Critical Heritage.London: Routledge, 1982.Moss, Robert F. Rudyard Kipling and the Fiction of Adolescence. New York: St. Martin's, 1982.Orel, Harold. "Adapting the Conventions of HistoricalRomance: Rider Haggard's Eric Brighteyes." EnglishLiterature in Transition. 36:1 1993.---,"Kipling and Children's Literature." English Literaturein Transition. 36:2 1993.---, A Kipling Chronology. Boston: Hall, 1990.---, ed. Kipling: Interviews and Recollections. Totowa, NewJersey: Barnes & Noble, 1983.72Orwell, George. "Rudyard Kipling." Dickens, Dali, and Others: Studies in Popular Culture. New York: Reynal, 1946.Page, Norman. A Kipling Companion. London: Macmillan, 1984.Pound, Ezra. Guide to Kulcher. Norfolk, Connecticut: NewDirections, 1952.Rao, K. Bhaskara. Rudyard Kipling's India. Norman, OK: U ofOklahoma P, 1967.Rev. of "They," Rudyard Kipling. The Literary Digest 1 Oct.1904.Rev. of Traffic and Discoveries, Rudyard Kipling. TheContemporary Review Nov. 1904.Ricketts, Harry, ed. Kipling's Lost World. Cornwall: Tabb,1989.Rushdie, Salman. Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism, 1981-1991. London: Granta Books, 1991.Seymour-Smith, Martin. Rudyard Kipling. London: Papermac,1990.Simon, John. "The Story of the Gadsbys." New York, v13(December 22, 1980): 57.Wilson, Edmund. The Wound and the Bow. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1941.---, Letters on Literature and Politics: 1912-1972.  Ed. ElenaWilson. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1957.Wilkinson, Frederick. Battle Dress: A Gallery of MilitaryStyle and Ornament. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1970.Withycombe, E. G. The Oxford Dictionary of English ChristianNames. Oxford: Clarendon, 1977.73APPENDIXABBREVIATIONS OF KIPLING'S WORKS CITEDB&W^In Black and WhiteD&C Debits and Credits DofC^A Diversity of Creatures FN The Five Nations MT^Soldiers Three and Military Tales, vol. 1PTH^Plain Tales From the Hills R&F^Rewards and Fairies SofM^Something of Myself T&D Traffics and Discoveries 

Cite

Citation Scheme:

        

Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics

Share

Embed

Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                        
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            src="{[{embed.src}]}"
                            data-item="{[{embed.item}]}"
                            data-collection="{[{embed.collection}]}"
                            data-metadata="{[{embed.showMetadata}]}"
                            data-width="{[{embed.width}]}"
                            async >
                            </script>
                            </div>
                        
                    
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:
http://iiif.library.ubc.ca/presentation/dsp.831.1-0086300/manifest

Comment

Related Items