Politics and Awe in Rudyard Kipling's Fiction  book cover
1st Edition

Politics and Awe in Rudyard Kipling's Fiction

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ISBN 9780754661641
Published February 28, 2008 by Routledge
204 Pages

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Book Description

There has been a resurgence of interest in Kipling among critics who struggle to reconcile the multiple pleasures offered by his fiction with the controversial political ideas that inform it. Peter Havholm takes up the challenge, piecing together Kipling's understanding of empire and humanity from evidence in Anglo-Indian and Indian newspapers of the 1870s and 1880s and offering a new explanation for Kipling's post-1891 turn to fantasy and stories written to be enjoyed by children. By dovetailing detailed contextual knowledge of British India with informed and sensitive close readings of well-known works like 'The Man Who Would Be King',' Kim', 'The Light That Failed', and 'They', Havholm offers a fresh reading of Kipling's early and late stories that acknowledges Kipling's achievement as a writer and illuminates the seductive allure of the imperialist fantasy.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction: guilty pleasures; 'In all this tumult': Rudyard Kipling's university year; Let the sovereign speak; Attending to cultural context; For to admire; The uncomplicated soul; Dayspring mishandled; Appendices; Works cited; Bibliography; Index.

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Peter Havholm is Professor of English at The College of Wooster in Ohio, USA, where he teaches English literature, literary theory, and new media and has won the Sears Award for Innovation in Teaching. He has published in Critical Inquiry, Computers and the Humanities, Academic Computing, The Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies, Children's Literature, and The Kipling Journal and has received the EDUCOM/NCRIPTAL Award for Distinguished Curricular Innovation.


'Peter Havholm's Politics and Awe in Rudyard Kipling's Fiction is a fascinating and provocative study of the forms, ethics, politics, and aesthetics of Kipling's fiction. Havholm both traces the sources of Kipling's imperialist ideology and persuasively demonstrates how and why his fiction so often brings genuine pleasure to readers who violently disagree with that ideology.' James Phelan, Ohio State University, USA ’Havholm’s book presents a powerful argument, is full of informed detail about British India, and offers resourceful readings of stories.’ Times Literary Supplement ’... Havholm has produced an impressive array of information, documentary evidence, and background detail...’ Kipling Journal 'The most impressive aspect of his project is the detailed reconstruction of this ''habitus'' by contextualising Kipling's work in relation to the discourse of Anglo-Indian newspapers, reports and debates, notably the controversy over the Ilbert Bill and his father Lockwood's writings. In doing so, Havholm not only mounts some successful challenges to certain ''postmodernist'' readings of Kipling's narratives but establishes persuasive ones of his own, which any serious Kipling scholar will have to engage with.' European Legacy