Monday, 30 January 2012

PLAIN TALES FROM THE HILLS – Rudyard Kipling, 1888

It took me a long time to come to Kipling. Disney may be somewhat to blame, but if I’m honest, it would probably come down to ‘If.’
‘If’ seemed too good to be true. It provided the sort of advice that I just didn’t want to hear. There is a reason why it is quoted above the entrance to the Centre Court at Wimbledon but I think you have to experience a certain amount of your own triumph and disaster to really appreciate why.
I’ve been coming round to him for a while now. In the summer I read his partial autobiography and thought it was so interesting that it revealed most by what it left out. I’ve been reading more since.
Plain Tales from the Hills is a collection of short stories, written during his formative years in India and published in The Civil and Military Gazette.
The stories often end abruptly. Rarely are they brought to the sort of conclusion with which we are now familiar.  But this makes them seem so real. How often do we know only part of the story? What happened next is so often a mystery.
The whole of India is here. All classes, castes and ranks are revealed and all are exposed.

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