Rudyard Kipling World Literature Analysis
Although Robert Louis Stevenson was the first British writer to build his career on the short-story form, Kipling was the first to stimulate a considerable amount of criticism, much of it adverse, because of his short fiction. In fact, much of the negative criticism that Kipling received is precisely the same kind of criticism that has often been lodged against the short-story form in general—for example, that it focuses only on episodes, that it is too concerned with technique, that it is too dependent on tricks, and that it often lacks a moral force.
Henry James was perhaps the first to note that the young Kipling realized very early the uniqueness of the short story, seeing what chances the form offered for “touching life in a thousand different pieces . . . each a specimen and an illustration.” Yet it is just this appreciation for the episode, according to Edmund Wilson, that prevented Kipling from becoming a great novelist:You can make an effective short story, as Kipling so often does, about somebody’s scoring off somebody else; but this is not enough for a great novelist, who must show us large social forces, or uncontrollable lines of destiny, or antagonistic impulses of the human spirit, struggling with one another.
Moreover, it is not simply because Kipling could not “graduate,” as it were, to the novel that critics have found fault with him. Critic Randall Jarrell says that Kipling lacks a “dispassionate moral...
(The entire section is 3859 words.)
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