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KIPLING'S BESTIARY

  • Parama Roy (a1)

Extract

The animal turn in studies of nineteenth-century imperialism has been a long time in coming. Scholars seeking to yoke together questions of nonhuman life and the domain of the colony have come to acknowledge, at long last, that the imperial landscape was not a purely human one. Only now, suggests John Miller, has the considerable scholarship on empire and the natural world made an impress upon Victorian literary studies (479). The animal turn, however, is not new in the scholarship on Rudyard Kipling. For Kipling, empire never was simply an affair of human beings; more perhaps than any other writer of the colonial experience, he saw imperialism as encompassing plural and multiply scaled orders of animate life. Henry James, an early admirer of Kipling's work, took disgusted note in 1897 of what seemed to him the simultaneous multitudinousness and diminution of the younger writer's fictional world: “My view of his prose future has much shrunken in light of one's increasingly observing how little life he can make use of. . . . In his earliest time I thought he perhaps contained the seeds of an English Balzac; but I have given that up in proportion as he has come down steadily from the simple in subject to the more simple–from the Anglo-Indians to the natives, from the natives to the Tommies, from the Tommies to the quadrupeds, from the quadrupeds to the fish, and from the fish to the engines and screws” (Page 49).

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KIPLING'S BESTIARY

  • Parama Roy (a1)

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