Category: Rudyard Kilpling

book of books – The Best Short Stories


A friend of mine pointed out that if you want to read some really good short stories then those by Rudyard Kipling are worth further investigation. Unfortunately because of the timing of his writing it has become deeply unfashionable because it is associated with the empire and has slight connotations of something bordering on the embarrassing and even slightly racist.

It is of its time but there is little in these stories that glamorises the past and most of the Empire tales are charactised by sun, sand and madness rather than a jolly good time.

As well as enjoying some cracking stories this collection inspires creative writers because of a real sense of adventure with different styles and for those contemplating some of their own writing there are some real lessons to learn here:

Lesson one – the narrative voice
In most stories it is not only human beings that talk but the quote marks only get handed out to the major characters. There is a great deal of inventiveness here with polo horses discussing tactics for a cup game in The Maltese Cat and the rivet, steam and various parts of the engine moaning about an Atlantic crossing in The Ship that Found Herself.

Lesson two – the twist
Getting a twist across in a story that might only be twenty pages long is quite an achievement but it is on display here with the slow twist of the children being ghosts in ‘They’ and the short sharp ending that the narrator has also suffered a loss of a child. Then there is the magical moment in ‘Wireless’ when it is not the messages coming across the Marconi machine that matter but the inspired words of poetry that come to a consumptive chemist in a trance.

Lesson three – paint it black
There are some brutal stories here that show life in all its darkness and as a result have a tension and sadness. The Record of Badalia Herodsfoot tells the story of a charitable worker who is kicked to death by her husband for not sharing the church monies. The Limitations of Pambe Serang recounts a tale of revenge that leads to both men dying – one from a stab wound and the other from the hangman’s noose. But At the End of the Passage shows that it is possible to mix the misery of loneliness and heat exhaustion with the supernatural to produce quite a disturbing result.

Kipling might have dated but his writing is fluid, inventive and deserves to be read. Just because a writer is unfashionable does not detract from the lessons they can give readers and there is enough in this volume to keep you thinking for quite a while.

Version read – Wordsworth Classics paperback

book of books – The Best Short Stories


A friend of mine pointed out that if you want to read some really good short stories then those by Rudyard Kipling are worth further investigation. Unfortunately because of the timing of his writing it has become deeply unfashionable because it is associated with the empire and has slight connotations of something bordering on the embarrassing and even slightly racist.

It is of its time but there is little in these stories that glamorises the past and most of the Empire tales are charactised by sun, sand and madness rather than a jolly good time.

As well as enjoying some cracking stories this collection inspires creative writers because of a real sense of adventure with different styles and for those contemplating some of their own writing there are some real lessons to learn here:

Lesson one – the narrative voice
In most stories it is not only human beings that talk but the quote marks only get handed out to the major characters. There is a great deal of inventiveness here with polo horses discussing tactics for a cup game in The Maltese Cat and the rivet, steam and various parts of the engine moaning about an Atlantic crossing in The Ship that Found Herself.

Lesson two – the twist
Getting a twist across in a story that might only be twenty pages long is quite an achievement but it is on display here with the slow twist of the children being ghosts in ‘They’ and the short sharp ending that the narrator has also suffered a loss of a child. Then there is the magical moment in ‘Wireless’ when it is not the messages coming across the Marconi machine that matter but the inspired words of poetry that come to a consumptive chemist in a trance.

Lesson three – paint it black
There are some brutal stories here that show life in all its darkness and as a result have a tension and sadness. The Record of Badalia Herodsfoot tells the story of a charitable worker who is kicked to death by her husband for not sharing the church monies. The Limitations of Pambe Serang recounts a tale of revenge that leads to both men dying – one from a stab wound and the other from the hangman’s noose. But At the End of the Passage shows that it is possible to mix the misery of loneliness and heat exhaustion with the supernatural to produce quite a disturbing result.

Kipling might have dated but his writing is fluid, inventive and deserves to be read. Just because a writer is unfashionable does not detract from the lessons they can give readers and there is enough in this volume to keep you thinking for quite a while.

Version read – Wordsworth Classics paperback

book of books – The Best Short Stories


A friend of mine pointed out that if you want to read some really good short stories then those by Rudyard Kipling are worth further investigation. Unfortunately because of the timing of his writing it has become deeply unfashionable because it is associated with the empire and has slight connotations of something bordering on the embarrassing and even slightly racist.

It is of its time but there is little in these stories that glamorises the past and most of the Empire tales are charactised by sun, sand and madness rather than a jolly good time.

As well as enjoying some cracking stories this collection inspires creative writers because of a real sense of adventure with different styles and for those contemplating some of their own writing there are some real lessons to learn here:

Lesson one – the narrative voice
In most stories it is not only human beings that talk but the quote marks only get handed out to the major characters. There is a great deal of inventiveness here with polo horses discussing tactics for a cup game in The Maltese Cat and the rivet, steam and various parts of the engine moaning about an Atlantic crossing in The Ship that Found Herself.

Lesson two – the twist
Getting a twist across in a story that might only be twenty pages long is quite an achievement but it is on display here with the slow twist of the children being ghosts in ‘They’ and the short sharp ending that the narrator has also suffered a loss of a child. Then there is the magical moment in ‘Wireless’ when it is not the messages coming across the Marconi machine that matter but the inspired words of poetry that come to a consumptive chemist in a trance.

Lesson three – paint it black
There are some brutal stories here that show life in all its darkness and as a result have a tension and sadness. The Record of Badalia Herodsfoot tells the story of a charitable worker who is kicked to death by her husband for not sharing the church monies. The Limitations of Pambe Serang recounts a tale of revenge that leads to both men dying – one from a stab wound and the other from the hangman’s noose. But At the End of the Passage shows that it is possible to mix the misery of loneliness and heat exhaustion with the supernatural to produce quite a disturbing result.

Kipling might have dated but his writing is fluid, inventive and deserves to be read. Just because a writer is unfashionable does not detract from the lessons they can give readers and there is enough in this volume to keep you thinking for quite a while.

Version read – Wordsworth Classics paperback

Lunchtime read: The Best Short Stories

The final story in this collection ends again showing just how clever Kipling is at laying down a twist, which catches you out at the end. The thing is with this tale you think that you know what is coming but then there is a kink in the final couple of pages that leaves you with a different ending from what you might have predicted.

‘They’

A man driving his motorcar drives into the grounds of a large house and sees children waving from the house and playing in the grounds but when he gets close no one is there except for a blind woman. She explains that the children are allowed to roam in her house and she loves them. The man comes a couple more times until a final encounter when he understands that the children are dead and because he has lost a child he cannot come back to visit again. The blind woman, realising that he understands, asks him if she thinks he is selfish, something he says she is not but he seems bitterly disappointed that he can never come back again.

You start to realise that the children are ghosts quite early on and it seems amazing that no one in the village tells the motorist or he doesn’t get it himself. But you never know that what is coming is that he has himself lost a child and that is why he has loved and lost and because his child might also walk among the others he has to leave.

This entire collection might be dated not just in terms of the Empire but also in the innocence of an earlier time. But there are several great ideas that a creative writer could take from the collection and throughout each story there is high quality writing from start to finish.

Full review to come shortly…

Lunchtime read: The Best Short Stories

The final story in this collection ends again showing just how clever Kipling is at laying down a twist, which catches you out at the end. The thing is with this tale you think that you know what is coming but then there is a kink in the final couple of pages that leaves you with a different ending from what you might have predicted.

‘They’

A man driving his motorcar drives into the grounds of a large house and sees children waving from the house and playing in the grounds but when he gets close no one is there except for a blind woman. She explains that the children are allowed to roam in her house and she loves them. The man comes a couple more times until a final encounter when he understands that the children are dead and because he has lost a child he cannot come back to visit again. The blind woman, realising that he understands, asks him if she thinks he is selfish, something he says she is not but he seems bitterly disappointed that he can never come back again.

You start to realise that the children are ghosts quite early on and it seems amazing that no one in the village tells the motorist or he doesn’t get it himself. But you never know that what is coming is that he has himself lost a child and that is why he has loved and lost and because his child might also walk among the others he has to leave.

This entire collection might be dated not just in terms of the Empire but also in the innocence of an earlier time. But there are several great ideas that a creative writer could take from the collection and throughout each story there is high quality writing from start to finish.

Full review to come shortly…

Lunchtime read: The Best Short Stories

Again the voices you hear are those of a collection of inanimate objects and animals. This is a clever story not just about mans fight with nature but the price of progress as a traditional mill is forced to embrace modern technology.

Below the Mill Dam
The water is gushing down and putting strain on the old Mill wheels and the cat and the rat watch the Mill struggle to cope with the pressure. At the same time the Mill owner is rigging up electricity using the power of the water. After initially pouring scorn on the whole idea of turbines and electricity the Mill changes its tunes and accepts that it will have to change and embrace the technology. The cat turns to talk to her old friend the rat about how things have changed but the rat has been stuffed by the engineer who labelled it as a Black Rat.

The fate of the rat brings a rye smile because of cause keeping the past stuffed and kept in jars is exactly one sort of fate that would have been left for the Mill had it not embraced change.

Last story to come tomorrow…

Lunchtime read: The Best Short Stories

Again the voices you hear are those of a collection of inanimate objects and animals. This is a clever story not just about mans fight with nature but the price of progress as a traditional mill is forced to embrace modern technology.

Below the Mill Dam
The water is gushing down and putting strain on the old Mill wheels and the cat and the rat watch the Mill struggle to cope with the pressure. At the same time the Mill owner is rigging up electricity using the power of the water. After initially pouring scorn on the whole idea of turbines and electricity the Mill changes its tunes and accepts that it will have to change and embrace the technology. The cat turns to talk to her old friend the rat about how things have changed but the rat has been stuffed by the engineer who labelled it as a Black Rat.

The fate of the rat brings a rye smile because of cause keeping the past stuffed and kept in jars is exactly one sort of fate that would have been left for the Mill had it not embraced change.

Last story to come tomorrow…