Saturday, 26 October 2013

Review of 'Something of Myself: Friends Known and Unknown' by Rudyard Kipling

Something Of Myself: For My Friends, Known And UnknownSomething Of Myself: For My Friends, Known And Unknown by Rudyard Kipling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's a shame that those who have little of interest to tell us release the third volume of their biographies by the age of 30, whilst others with a fascinating history leave it until the final countdown before starting their first volume. Such is the case with Kipling who did not leave enough time to complete his auto-biography before being called onto a greater place.

Where that greater place would be is difficult to say. From the first paragraph Kipling invokes Allah,and later states that as Islam was his first taste of religion he found it the sweeter taste. And so begins the slim volume, contradicting the racist colonialist impression that many post-colonialists force upon him and any of their readers.

Kipling was a product of his time, and a staunch colonialist but that does not mean that his works represent any race that is non-white, European as second class. Kipling had a genuine love for India, though his views of Hindus were negatively influenced by the Islamic outlook of his early life, and this is reflected in his works.

Kipling lightly touches on each of his works showing how his experiences shaped them, leaving some legwork for the reader. He met Hardy, Theodore Roosevelt, Cecil Rhodes and many other lumninaries of the time and the insight into their worlds is enlightening.

This is a witty, light-touch biography that is tantalising in its incompleteness.

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