The Long Recessional : The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling

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9780712665186: The Long Recessional : The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling
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Rudyard Kipling was a unique figure in British history, a great writer and a great imperial icon. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature, he added more phrases to the language than any man since Shakespeare, yet he was also the Apostle of the British Empire, a man who incarnated an era for millions of people who did not normally read poetry. A child of the Victorian age of imperial self-confidence, Kipling lived to see the rise of Hitler threaten his country's existence. The laureate of the Empire at its apogee, he foresaw that its demise would soon follow his death. His great poem 'Recessional' celebrated Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897; his last poems warned of the dangers of Nazism. The trajectory of his life matched the trajectory of the British Empire from its zenith to its final decades. He himself was transformed from the apostle of success to the prophet of national decline, a Cassandra warning of dangers that successive governments refused to face. Previous works on Kipling have focused on his writing and on his domestic life. This is the first book to study his public role, his influence on the way Britons saw both themselves and their Empire. Based on extensive research in Britain and in the under-explored archives of the United States, David Gilmour has produced a brilliantly illuminating study of a man who embodied the spirit of his country a hundred years ago as closely as Shakespeare had done 300 years before.

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About the Author:

David Gilmour's books include the prize-winning biographies, Curzon and The Last Leopard: A Life of Giuseppe di Lampedusa. He is also the author of Cities of Spain, The Hungry Generations and several works on the politics of Spain and the Middle East. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a former Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford, he is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books.

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*Starred Review* For 50 years, Rudyard Kipling projected his political and social views in prose fiction and, more pointedly, in verse. He was a British imperial propagandist but also an artist who took no orders. As Gilmour presents him in a biography focused on his political life, but that cites and evaluates numerous poems and stories, noting their aesthetic qualities as well as their messages, Kipling was the greatest, because he was the most humane, British imperialist and also the empire's great, pessimistic prophet. His early working years in India convinced him that British rule there had to be paternal: guiding but not dominating, helping but not exploiting native peoples. The British in South Africa had similar duties, he thought, and needed also to restrain the Boers, whom he warned would establish a racist regime: apartheid. He despised liberals and socialists because he believed they would dismantle the empire, leaving India to be torn asunder by contending Hindus and Muslims--another accurate forecast. He undermined his own effectiveness with his ideological purity and permanent grudges. Still, as Gilmour makes abundantly clear, he was a major player in the affairs of the mightiest power on Earth, which lost its potency in tandem with his loss of practical influence. A remarkable man, a remarkable book. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780374528966: LONG RECESSIONAL

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ISBN 10:  0374528969 ISBN 13:  9780374528966
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003

9780374187026: The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling

Farrar..., 2002

9780719555398: The Long Recessional : The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling

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