English Literature Of The 19th Century:
James Matthew Barrie
Mrs. Humphry Ward
George Du Maurier
Read More Articles About: English Literature Of The 19th Century
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The Nineteenth Century was drawing to a close; students of literature lamented the passing of the great masters of song and story; watchful critics noted with sorrow the signs of decadence; careful judges pronounced that henceforth in this age of science and materialism the spirit of poetry and imagination was extinct, nor could it possibly be revived; when lo ! from the far East was heard a voice like a trumpet, waxing louder and stronger and sweeter, and the cry arose, "The new genius has arrived; Kipling is here." "Plain Tales from the Hills" (1888) was the unexpected herald of a new era. The stories were realistic in a new style, of new characters, new scenes, new life. Other tales quickly followed, treating of English private soldiers and native Hindoos and Mohammedans, sometimes pathetic, sometimes tragic, always startlingly real, and strongly masculine. In the humorous group of "Soldiers Three" came a revelation of the inner and outer man of the British private, previously unknown even to those most concerned. Again came touching stories of children in "Wee Willie Winkie" (1888). After some preliminary tuning there arose in the air also a burst of soldiers' songs, gay, reckless, warlike, irresistible, in "Departmental Ditties" (1891) and "Barrack-Room Ballads" (1892).
Rudyard Kipling is the son of John Lockwood Kipling, principal of the school of industrial art at Lahore, and was born at Bombay in December, 1865. He was sent to school in England, but returned to India in 1882, and became sub-editor of a newspaper at Lahore. Here he learned to write swiftly and effectively, and soon produced stories and verses that were circulated through India. From these a selection was made in the "Plain Tales from the Hills," his first challenge to the outer world. The response of welcome was clear and unmistakable. In '889 Kipling went to England and soon afterwards made a tour across the United States, writing descriptive letters as he journeyed. Then he married Miss Balestier, the sister of Wolcott Balestier, with whom he had collaborated in a novel, "The Naulahka" (1892). He built a house at Brattleboro, Vermont, and settled there for a few years, but went back to England in 1897.
Besides his Anglo-Indian stories, Kipling in 1894 produced an entirely unique kind of fables in "The Jungle Book." These are dialogues and stories of the life of the wild beasts of India from their own point of view. For these almost a special dialect was invented, marvelously appropriate and suggestive. Compared with AEsop's simple moralizings and the grotesque German stories of "Reineke Fuchs," these jungle stories are in-tensely realistic, yet are not lacking in ethical suggestions. "The Light that Failed" (1890), Kipling's first novel, included a graphic account of an Egyptian campaign, with a sketch of studio life in London. "Captains courageous" (1897) is a breezy narrative of the perilous adventures of the fishermen of Gloucester, Massachusets. In some short stories Kipling has availed himself of his observations in America. His quickness in perceiving and accuracy in reproducing details of new subjects are equally astonishing. Yet he leaves the impression of being able to tell more if it were necessary. His poems, even the coarse soldiers' ballads, are full of imagination and patriot-ism. He has proved himself, without appointment, the inspired poet laureate of England. His "Seven Seas" is a glorification of the British imperial policy; his "Recessional" was an appropriate hymn of humble praise for the celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of Queen Victoria's accession; the "Truce of the Bear" was a startling yet genuine British response to Czar Nicholas' suggestion of the disarmament of nations; "The White Man's Burden" is a thrilling presentation of the unavoidable duty of the capable white race to the incapable, unreliable colored races of the world, in spite of all the inherent difficulties of the glorious task. With this royal leader in prose and verse, England grandly enters a new literary era.