[ilds] Kipling's Kim v. Forster's Passage

Richard Pine pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com
Wed Oct 5 09:36:03 PDT 2016


"Yes, Durrell identified with Kipling’s *Kim* as a model for his boyhood
experiences in India.  That’s Romanticism on a superficial level—that’s
postcard India."
Absolutely not! If it was a postcard, it was a postcard born inside his
head - a veritable smile in his mind's eye. It wasn't at all romantic, with
or without a capital 'R' and it wasn't in the slightest superficial. India
MEANT something to him at first-hand and it imbued his entire life and
life-vision. Read what he wrote about the lamas in his introduction to the
(first) biog of Alexandra David-Neel by the Foster couple.
RP

On Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 7:04 PM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
wrote:

> Yes, Durrell identified with Kipling’s *Kim* as a model for his boyhood
> experiences in India.  That’s Romanticism on a superficial level—that’s
> postcard India.  As Rick points out, Kipling also taught Durrell a lot
> about storytelling—and both are expert storytellers.  But I would argue
> that Forster’s *Passage to India* provided a more profound model for the
> Indian “metaphysics” Durrell later explored in his allegorical fiction.
>  (Forster’s *Alexandria* and *Pharos and Pharillon* also fit in here.)
>  This is the India Ravi Nambiar discusses.  Consider Forster’s opening to
> *Passage*—the Marabar Caves and whatever it is that happens inside them.
> Durrell uses caves to similar effect in *The Dark Labyrinth* and the
> *Quintet*.  Those kinds of mysterious or mystical experiences permeate
> his work.
>
> Bruce
>
>
>
> On Oct 4, 2016, at 11:03 PM, Richard Pine <pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> I think what continued to resonate with LD about "Kim" was the fact that
> like Kipling LD had been born there and as we know deeply resented 'losing'
> his Indian childhood; that Kim was, as LD supposed himself to be,
> Anglo-Irish; and that he had known something of Kim's early years - Walsh
> in Pied Piper of Lovers has a lot in common with Kim. On the other hand,
> Forster was a 'travel writer' in India and however much he empathised with
> Indians, he didn't have that background. See what LD says about Kim, quoted
> in my book "Mindscape" (readable online on the DLC website - pp. 43-46 and
> 123-126 especially).
> RP
>
> On Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 1:29 AM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
> wrote:
>
>> Richard, you’ve mentioned Kipling’s *Kim* before in this context.  I’ll
>> have to reread it in the way you suggest.  I must have missed something,
>> but I can imagine what Said probably said.  I wonder why Durrell didn’t
>> keep Forster’s *Passage to India* as a “bedside book.”  It seems equally
>> relevant.  Forster, by the way, didn’t like Durrell and his brand of
>> Romanticism and didn’t say nice things about him in private.  Durrell, on
>> the other hand, was very gracious towards E. M.
>>
>> Bruce
>>
>
>
>
>> Rick Schoff on 10/5/2016:
>>
>
> I'm reading "Kim" for the first time as an adult. It's not hard to see the
> east/west contrast. I imagine LD loved the boisterous and colorful aspects
> of it (is this part and parcel of the "romanticism" Forster didn't like?).
> Also, I think, the idea of a "Great Game" as the armature and animator of a
> story impressed Durrell. I first read the Quartet for its overall lushness
> and the interactions and thoughts of the characters. But "Palestine" ruled
> over all the action, gave shape and defined the parameters of the story. In
> the Quintet it's the Templars and their rumored treasure. In addition to
> other aspects, I think "Kim" taught Durrell some key lessons about pure
> story-telling. Sure, "Kim" might be just a boy's adventure book (how it was
> first presented to me), but both elements are in there: good story-telling
> and depiction of different world views.
>
>
> On Oct 4, 2016, at 6:29 PM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
> wrote:
>
> Richard, you’ve mentioned Kipling’s *Kim* before in this context.  I’ll
> have to reread it in the way you suggest.  I must have missed something,
> but I can imagine what Said probably said.  I wonder why Durrell didn’t
> keep Forster’s *Passage to India* as a “bedside book.”  It seems equally
> relevant.  Forster, by the way, didn’t like Durrell and his brand of
> Romanticism and didn’t say nice things about him in private.  Durrell, on
> the other hand, was very gracious towards E. M.
>
> Bruce
>
>
>
> On Oct 4, 2016, at 2:29 PM, Richard Pine <pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> To appreciate the east-west tension in LD - and particularly the Quintet -
> it's helpful to look at Kipling's *Kim* - which LD called his 'bedside
> book' - and to look also at the ways western critics have tried to engage
> with this tension - and then to look at the ways non-western critics like
> Said and Chaudhuri have read *Kim*.
> RP
>
> On Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 12:19 AM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
> > wrote:
>
>> Ravi,
>>
>> I like the contrast between Durrell’s *Constance* and Tennyson’s
>> “Ulysses”:  to yield v. not to yield.  I think you’re absolutely right in
>> this.  That’s the Indian metaphysics of Durrell’s philosophy, which is very
>> un-Western.  As to the rest of the *Quintet,* it has so many aspects
>> (and defects) that readers will be puzzling over these for years to come.
>> I don’t think, however, that Durrell himself was ever “happy.”  In this
>> regard, he was Odyssean, “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
>>  What he advocated was not necessarily what he practiced.
>>
>> Bruce
>>
>>
>>
>> On Sep 28, 2016, at 8:14 PM, Ravi Nambiar <cnncravi at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> Bruce
>> Thanks for your expert comments. You are hundred percent right.* The
>> Quintet* may/will get the fate of *The Revolt*. I don't speak
>> authoritatively at all. I am a humble admirer of Durrell. I just quoted
>> Durrell's own words (so that I can escape) only to show that he had not
>> anticipated a Quartet-type audience for his Quintet ("The book is really
>> written for learned people."); and, in spite of that, he claimed this
>> novel his best. My only contention is that it is too early to write off
>> this novel as a failure. Also, there are some fine parts which our young
>> scholars could/should pursue. Our negative (final) judgement should not, I
>> feel, discourage anyone from going into its by-lanes. For example, I liked
>> the contrast Durrell made to the concept of Victorian heroism with a/the
>> modern heroism: replacing the slogan, "to strive, to seek, to find and not
>> to yield" with the slogan, "to surrender, to yield, to abdicate and
>> receive" (*Constance* 269). I don't think substituting the  heroism of
>> Ulysses with that of a Yogi is any kind of philosophy or a bad philosophy.
>> Yoga is popular now. Durrell's concern was to make his character seek
>> happiness, inner happiness, a kind of"bliss-side up" life (the first half
>> of the novel was the war-ridden world). That is why I called his novel
>> "Eudaemonistic" novel, the type of novel making its theme as a system of
>> ethics that evaluates actions (heroism) in terms of their capacity to produce
>> happiness. The Quintet may be a failure, but, it certainly gives some
>> narrative clues to future writers. We have had enough of realism,
>> surrealism, magic realism, and so on. Why not try metarealism also?
>> My apology to all those who disagree with me. Let us agree to disagree
>> for the sake of literature.
>> Best
>> Ravi
>>
>>
> _______________________________________________
>
>
>>
>> On Oct 4, 2016, at 2:29 PM, Richard Pine <pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>> To appreciate the east-west tension in LD - and particularly the Quintet
>> - it's helpful to look at Kipling's *Kim* - which LD called his 'bedside
>> book' - and to look also at the ways western critics have tried to engage
>> with this tension - and then to look at the ways non-western critics like
>> Said and Chaudhuri have read *Kim*.
>> RP
>>
>> On Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 12:19 AM, Bruce Redwine <
>> bredwine1968 at earthlink.net> wrote:
>>
>>> Ravi,
>>>
>>> I like the contrast between Durrell’s *Constance* and Tennyson’s
>>> “Ulysses”:  to yield v. not to yield.  I think you’re absolutely right in
>>> this.  That’s the Indian metaphysics of Durrell’s philosophy, which is very
>>> un-Western.  As to the rest of the *Quintet,* it has so many aspects
>>> (and defects) that readers will be puzzling over these for years to come.
>>> I don’t think, however, that Durrell himself was ever “happy.”  In this
>>> regard, he was Odyssean, “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
>>>  What he advocated was not necessarily what he practiced.
>>>
>>> Bruce
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> On Sep 28, 2016, at 8:14 PM, Ravi Nambiar <cnncravi at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>
>>> Bruce
>>> Thanks for your expert comments. You are hundred percent right.* The
>>> Quintet* may/will get the fate of *The Revolt*. I don't speak
>>> authoritatively at all. I am a humble admirer of Durrell. I just quoted
>>> Durrell's own words (so that I can escape) only to show that he had not
>>> anticipated a Quartet-type audience for his Quintet ("The book is
>>> really written for learned people."); and, in spite of that, he claimed
>>> this novel his best. My only contention is that it is too early to write
>>> off this novel as a failure. Also, there are some fine parts which our
>>> young scholars could/should pursue. Our negative (final) judgement should
>>> not, I feel, discourage anyone from going into its by-lanes. For example, I
>>> liked the contrast Durrell made to the concept of Victorian heroism with
>>> a/the modern heroism: replacing the slogan, "to strive, to seek, to find
>>> and not to yield" with the slogan, "to surrender, to yield, to abdicate and
>>> receive" (*Constance* 269). I don't think substituting the  heroism of
>>> Ulysses with that of a Yogi is any kind of philosophy or a bad philosophy.
>>> Yoga is popular now. Durrell's concern was to make his character seek
>>> happiness, inner happiness, a kind of"bliss-side up" life (the first half
>>> of the novel was the war-ridden world). That is why I called his novel
>>> "Eudaemonistic" novel, the type of novel making its theme as a system of
>>>  ethics that evaluates actions (heroism) in terms of their capacity to produce
>>> happiness. The Quintet may be a failure, but, it certainly gives some
>>> narrative clues to future writers. We have had enough of realism,
>>> surrealism, magic realism, and so on. Why not try metarealism also?
>>> My apology to all those who disagree with me. Let us agree to disagree
>>> for the sake of literature.
>>> Best
>>> Ravi
>>>
>>>
>>
>
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