The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling

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

A major new biography of Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was a unique figure in British history, a great writer as well as an imperial icon whose life trajectory matched that of the British Empire from its zenith to its final decades. Kipling was in his early twenties when his first stories about Anglo-Indian life vaulted him into celebrity. He went on to be awarded the Nobel Prize, and to add more phrases to the language than any man since Shakespeare, but his conservative views and advocacy of imperialism damaged his critical reputation -- while at the same time making him all the more popular with a general readership. By the time he died, the man who incarnated an era for millions was almost forgotten, and new generations must come to terms in their own way with his enduring but mysterious powers.

Previous works on Kipling have focused exclusively on his writing and on his domestic life. Here, the distinguished biographer David Gilmour not only explains how and why Kipling wrote, but also explores the themes of his complicated life, his ideas, his relationships, and his views on the Empire and the future. Gilmour is the first writer to explore Kipling's public role, his influence on the way Britons saw themselves and their Empire. His fascinating new book, based on extensive research (especially in the underexplored archives of the United States), is a groundbreaking study of a great and misunderstood writer.

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About the Author:

David Gilmour is the author of several highly acclaimed works of literary and political history, including two prize-winning biographies, Curzon and The Last Leopard: A Life of Giuseppe di Lampedusa. He lives in Edinburgh.

From Booklist:

*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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David Gilmour
Editore: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2002)
ISBN 10: 0374187029 ISBN 13: 9780374187026
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