The Meaning of Things: Kipling's Formative Journey 'Home" in 1889 and the Late Victorian Imperial Tour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

779 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The ‘seven years’ hard’ Rudyard Kipling spent as a journalist innorth India are generally seen as the making of both hispoetic and his politics. But, important as origin, community,identity and ‘my father’s house’ are to Kipling, he shouldalso be seen as a wayfarer of no fixed abode. In 1889 heused his first royalties to return to metropolitan fame bythe long way round: Burma, the Straits, Japan, the Pacificand a transcontinental journey past landmarks of hisAmericanophile boyhood reading. Both distressing andexhilarating, it was a journey that stimulated the productivetension in him between the parochial and the universal. Ifan upcountry Punjab station had impressed him with thenecessity of colonial rule, it was this voyage thatengendered his all-embracing imperial vision. If he hadhoned his eye for ‘local colour’, this trip intimated to himthat his metier would lie in culturally translating disparateportions of the empire to one another. Anticipating Baden-Powell’s call to ‘look wider’, vagabonding proved to be anagreeable mode of existence, but metropolitan arrival wasto hold its own unforeseen challenges and anxieties. At atime when English writers like Arthur Symons aestheticisedtheir sensation of cultural rootlessness in the figure of thevagabond, Kipling sought to foreground his ownvagabondism with a persuasive claim to belonging.

© 2016, published by Taylor & Francis. The attached document (embargoed until 26/11/2017) is an author produced version of a paper, uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link below. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-396
JournalJournal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Volume44
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2016

Cite this