Rudyard Kipling Born in Bombay, India Term Paper

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¶ … Rudyard Kipling

Born in Bombay, India, on December 30, 1865, Joseph Rudyard Kipling, one of the most influential British poets/novelists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was the only son of John Lockwood Kipling, a rather well-known pottery designer and collector of native Indian art. His mother, Alice Macdonald Kipling, was the daughter of a Wesleyan minister, and her sisters, being Lady Burne-Jones, Lady Poynter and Mrs. Alfred Baldwin, had many social connections with English royalty. In fact, Mrs. Baldwin's son Stanley became the prime minister of England and then was named Lord Baldwin.

Kipling's childhood, due to being born in India, was very much influenced by traditional Indian culture, for he had been raised in the care of native ayahs (a nurse or maid, usually employed by well-to-do British households) who taught him to speak Hindustani, the official language of India, along with English, his mother tongue. In such an environment, young Kipling became enamored with Indian culture and its literature which greatly influenced his later career as a poet, short story writer and novelist.

When Kipling was six years old, he was sent to England to live under the guardianship of an elderly relative at Southsea. In this place, Kipling experienced what has come to be called "culture shock," for his new life in England was radically different from what he had known in India. To make matters worse, his new guardian did not appreciate Kipling's precocious personality and treated him rather harshly.

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In 1878, at the age of twelve, Kipling was sent to school for the first time at the United Services College in North Devon, a public institution made up of students of mostly Anglo-Indian descent. Since he could speak Hindustani fluently, he soon took on the status of comradeship with his fellow students and became very popular. Academically, Kipling did not excel in his studies but after a short period of time, he became interested in literature and was soon editing the school magazine; he also tried his hand at poetry and was quite successful at it, for some of his earliest poetry was published in a local newspaper.

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In 1883, at the age of eighteen, Kipling was offered the opportunity to attend the university, but he decided against it and returned to India. Fortunately, at this time, Kipling's father had increased his status in Indian society by taking on the role as director of the prestigious Lahore Museum and through this position, he managed to have his son become a staff member for the Civil and Military Gazette, where Kipling learned the craft of journalism, a job that he soon discovered involved far more than just writing for the paper, for it entailed much hard work and personal sacrifice.

At this periodical, Kipling soon began to write short stories and have them published in the paper, and it was here as editor that he created some of his most memorable literary characters, such as Ortheris, Mulvaney and Learoyd which were later incorporated into his novel Plain Tales From the Hills in 1888. The chief editor for the paper was apparently very struck with Kipling's literary abilities and his unbounded energy as a writer. Also at this time, Kipling began his life-long exploration of Indian culture which was to serve him most appropriately in his later years when his skills as a novelist reached their peak.

As to Kipling's literary style, all of his short stories and novels embody a highly distinctive voice. As was often the case, this voice was provided by an unknown narrator and whether in an assertive or teasing style, this voice was always immediately recognizable and demanded the attention of the reader. Of course, the application of a knowing narrative voice, being similar to the "fly on the wall" method, was nothing new. For Kipling, it is obvious that he borrowed or perhaps imitated the voices of other authors, such as George Gordon, Lord Byron whom he had imitated in some of his earliest poems.

Another literary device which Kipling used to his advantage was to frame the central narrative, a technique that was to become an essential ingredient in his later fiction. As an experimental form, this framing was often accompanied by literary ventriloquism, meaning that the main voice is that of an anonymous narrator, often ironic and elusive.

Also, Kipling gradually extended his range of literary ventriloquism by inserting very elaborate and ornate English as spoken by most gentile and upright British gentlemen to convey the richness and texture of the English language. In a number of short stories with Anglo-Indian children, Kipling imaginatively wrote out the phonetic sounds of the children's speech; also, with the character of Mulvaney, Kipling inserted his Irish brogue which by itself is a very impressive literary achievement.

Another aspect that can be found in Kipling's tales, starting roughly in 1888, was his use of concealing his own literary skills. This technique was mainly accomplished by not giving the reader any indication that the writer himself was behind the words, a very good trick that required much psychological manipulation on the part of Kipling.

Between 1887 and 1889, Kipling served as writer and editor for other contemporary newspapers, most notably the Allahabad Pioneer. At this periodical, Kipling furthered his literary and journalistic ambitions by working on other novels and short stories which he hoped would encourage his future prospects in London as a well-known and respected author. Previously, Kipling had written and published a collection of poetry in 1886 which appeared in book form and then in the Civil and Military Gazette. This volume of poetry is currently a very sought-after collectible, and as a first edition, it has often brought very high prices at rare book auctions around the world.

Following the success of this collection of poetry, Kipling produced Soldiers Three, Under the Deodars and several other important works that focused on the Anglo-Indian civil and military life as it existed in Allahabad. In 1889, Kipling was chosen by the Allahabad Gazette to return to England via excursions in other foreign countries; out of this experience, Kipling produced Letters of Marque and From Sea to Sea.

Upon his return to London, Kipling occupied a house on Villiers Street near the River Thames which was then considered to be the newspaper center of London. Here, Kipling made up his mind to become a respected author and poet and could often be found frequenting the offices of important London newspapers and haunting the local bookshops in search of material and inspiration for his future novels.

During this time, Kipling met Caroline Starr Balestier, the sister of American author Charles Wolcott Balestier, and in 1892, after returning from a voyage to South Africa which resulted in the publication of the Light That Failed (1891), Kipling married Ms. Balestier. 1892 was also the year that Kipling's collection of poetry Barrack-Room Ballads was published.

After his marriage, Kipling and his new wife left England and headed for Vermont in the United States where Mrs. Kipling owned considerable real estate. Within a four-year period, two daughters were born, yet Kipling continued his literary endeavors. In 1893, he published the novel Many Inventions which introduced the character of Mowgli; between 1894 and 1897, Kipling produced such outstanding novels as the Jungle Book which attained international recognition, the Seven Seas (1896) and Captains Courageous (1897).

With the Jungle Book, Kipling relates the tale of Mowgli, the child hero/orphan which could be viewed from an autobiographical perspective, meaning that Kipling was re-writing certain aspects of his own childhood in India. The most prominent motif in the Jungle Book is Kipling's use of animals, especially those that serve as Mowgli's foster parents. For example, one finds the Father and Mother Wolf, Akela the Lone Wolf, Baloo the bear, Bagheera the black panther and Kaa the python.

All of these anthropomorphic characters (i.e. giving animals or other non-human objects the characteristics of a human being) are eager to care for Mowgli and each competes with each other for his affection and adoration. However, Mowgli reigns supreme as the master of the animals, much like Tarzan in Edgar Rice Burrough's great classic.

In 1896, Kipling and his family returned to England and settled in Torquay. In 1898, Kipling, his wife and two daughters, visited New York City which turned out to be a tragic time in the life of Rudyard Kipling, for his eldest daughter died there and he himself came precariously close to death after contracting double pneumonia. Following this close call, in 1900, Kipling decided to return to South Africa to witness the spectacle of the Boer War in order to obtain first-hand information on this devastating conflict. In 1901, Kipling wrote his literary masterpiece Kim, his first truly successful expanded novel which presented an accurate and expertly-written account of the social lives, traditional customs and religion of India and its people.

As a novel, Kim was Kipling's narrative ode to India and celebrated the cultural and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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