larryhammer: photo of Enceladus (the moon, not the mythological being), label: "Enceladus is sexy" (astronomy)
Meanwhile, have some linkies:

A complete rotation of the moon, stitching together high-resolution photos from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.* So you can see the back side in HD. (via)

Making a dugout canoe by hand. (via)

Beautiful trolling. Feel free to poke around at some of the other explanations.


* One of the few robots in space that TBD isn't interested in ... the name is not exactly small-child-friendly.


---L.

Subject quote from "Solsbury Hill," Peter Gabriel.
larryhammer: a symbol used in a traditional Iceland magic spell of protection (iceland)
Visions and revisions which another will reverse:

Disney princesses as Marvel heroines. SOLD. (via)

Adding selfies to Western art. (via)

Placebo's awesome cover of "Running Up That Hill." Though now I want a cover with an explicitly trans reading. (via) (link fixed)

Join Aikin speculates at length on how Jane Austen might have revised Northanger Abbey if she hadn't shelved the project because of her final illness -- starting with much insightful commentary on Austen's art and methods. (via?)

---L.

Subject quote from "Running Up That Hill," Kate Bush.
larryhammer: a wisp of smoke, label: "it comes in curlicues, spirals as it twirls" (curlicues)
PSA: a couple hours playing around with the Pete Seeger station in Pandora reveals that Simon & Garfunkle are really earwormy.

A Comprehensive Guide to Dinosaur Feathers and Scales -- who had 'em and who didn't, based on fossil remains discovered so far. (via)

An early dramatic monologue (almost exactly 250 years before "My Last Duchess") in the voice of Richard III. Full on Tudor smear campaign, of course.

All of my issues with the Goodnight Moon bedroom.
5. The idea that anyone would keep a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush on the same table.
Come for the vivisection of the colors, stay for the dialog of the bears in couples therapy. (via)

---L.

Subject quote from "Patterns," Paul Simon.
larryhammer: Tara from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" with Sappho painted on her back - label: "Greek poetry is sexy" (classics)
A bit of literary criticism for a warm Wednesday morning:
Two voices are there: one is of the deep;
It learns the storm-cloud's thunderous melody,
Now roars, now murmurs with the changing sea,
Now bird-like pipes, now closes soft in sleep:
And one is of an old half-witted sheep
Which bleats articulate monotony,
And indicates that two and one are three,
That grass is green, lakes damp, and mountains steep:
And, Wordsworth, both are thine: at certain times
Forth from the heart of thy melodious rhymes,
The form and pressure of high thoughts will burst:
At other times -- good Lord! I'd rather be
Quite unacquainted with the A.B.C.
Than write such hopeless rubbish as thy worst.
—James Kenneth Stephen,
pub. 1891, written as a Cambridge undergraduate
Testify, brother.

---L.

Subject quote is the final lines of "On Entering Douglas Bay" by William Wordsworth in his half-witted sheep mode.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Iceland)
Department of scary non-news stories: on April 25 two American jets nearly collided over the Pacific Ocean and the airlines didn't report it to the FAA for two weeks. (via)

YOU ARE SUPER GREAT. (via)

The significance of plot without conflict, including a Japanese-style yonkoma example and a critique of Derrida's Eurocentrism. (via?)

---L.

Subject quote from Henry IV 2, William Shakespeare.
larryhammer: a wisp of smoke, label: "it comes in curlicues, spirals as it twirls" (curlicues)
[H]ad Swinburne practised greater concentration his verse would be, not better in the same kind, but a different thing. His diffuseness is one of his glories. That so little material as appears to be employed in The Triumph of Time should release such an amazing number of words, requires what there is no reason to call anything but genius.

— T.S. Eliot, "Swinburne as Poet

Which is a rather odd essay wherein Mr. High Modernist himself argues that Swinburne was, in effect, a post-modernist.

---L.

Subject quote from "Waiting Under the Waves," Kris Delmhorst.
larryhammer: pen-and-ink drawing of an annoyed woman dressed as a Heian-era male courtier saying "......" (annoyed)
Bah. Chest cold. *cough cough* All I have to offer, before I curl back up on the couch, is a note jotted down a couple days ago:

The more Elizabethan/Jacobean poetry I read, the more I'm convinced that all the period portraits lie and women of the time routinely went around topless. Passages like:
Hide, oh, hide those hills of snow
    Which thy frozen bosom bears,
On whose tips the pinks that grow
    Are of those that April wears
where breasts are described complete with nipples are all over the place. While the snowy hills thing continues after the Civil War, the nipples disappear, as if covered over.

Well, it made sense at the time. *honk*

---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Yotsuba runs)
An interesting analysis of the visual rhetoric of the opening of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Good discussion in comments, too. (via)

A useful comic explaining the transgender experience with a simple analogy. (via)

An awesomesauce alt.country cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice." (via)

---L.
larryhammer: a wisp of smoke, label: "it comes in curlicues, spirals as it twirls" (curlicues)
Every Facebook political argument. (via)

A long post detailing several arguments for why singular they is grammatically correct when more than one gender is referred to or implied. (via)

Quote of the day:
"[I]n an age where every cultivated person was expected to perform as a poet, it is not surprising that when originality faltered, versifying might become a private folly and a public nuisance."

—Brower & Miner, Japanese Court Poetry, p175,
on the second-rate poets of the Kokinshu era


---L.
larryhammer: a woman wearing a chain mail hoodie, label: "chain mail is sexy" (chain mail is sexy)
It occurs to me that if you claim to be writing about events that no one has attempted to set down in neither prose nor poetry, you cannot also claim that it's all absolutely true because everything's taken from Turpin's contemporary account (with occasional additions gleaned from later historians).

This is not Ariosto's only rhetorical foul, nor even the worst* -- it warrants a free kick, perhaps, but not a yellow card. But it stands out, given the first claim is right up there in the second stanza of Orlando Furioso. It's like a bad tackle on the first pass of the game.


* I'm more than a little pissed about what Ricardetto did to Fiordespina -- that Ianthe wanted Iphis herorhimself, not Iphis's identical twin brother substituted in like instant coffee.


---L.
larryhammer: a woman wearing a chain mail hoodie, label: "chain mail is sexy" (chain mail is sexy)
It occurs to me that if you claim to be writing about events that no one has attempted to set down in neither prose nor poetry, you cannot also claim that it's all absolutely true because everything's taken from Turpin's contemporary account (with occasional additions gleaned from later historians).

This is not Ariosto's only rhetorical foul, nor even the worst* -- it warrants a free kick, perhaps, but not a yellow card. But it stands out, given the first claim is right up there in the second stanza of Orlando Furioso. It's like a bad tackle on the first pass of the game.


* I'm more than a little pissed about what Ricardetto did to Fiordespina -- that Ianthe wanted Iphis herorhimself, not Iphis's identical twin brother substituted in like instant coffee.


---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (completed)
Books recently devoured upon arrival in-house:

Cross Game v7, Mitsuru Adachi - Contains v14-15 of the Japanese edition -- one more volume to go. I am once again reminded of just how good Adachi is at storytelling, as the implications of the events of v6 continue to reverberate and the characters prepare for the climactic summer qualifying tournament. (I use "reverberate" deliberately -- echoes, structural and ironic, are a major tool in his kit.) Highly recommended, still.

Girl Meets Boy, Ali Smith - This is billed as a retelling of Iphis and Ianthe, but it's not so much that as a genderqueer romance with characters conscious of Ovid -- including two separate summaries of Ovid's version, one told in character. A fun, breezy read, though the partial implication that one solution to the problems of the world is to go Brazil-ending is not as encouraging as was probably intended.

Fly by Night, Frances Hardinge - I want to sit this book down in a locked room with Westmark and then eavesdrop as they try to figure out whether how much to trust each other, and what's to be gained by turning the other in. Wonderful evocation of pre-modern espionage, even though too much time is spent without the goose. I am inexplicably without the sequel.

The Sound of Waves, Yukio Mishima - I gather this is the Mishima novel I'm most likely to connect to. I must say, it's a good unraveling of exactly why secret lovers in Japanese poetry angst over discovery so much. I get the very strong impression that, even though the heroine is (like the hero) so very much An Ideal it's not even funny, Mishima did not like women. I also get the impression Mishima preferred the unreflective type in his boy-toys. All carping aside, I like the story itself -- I'm guessing it's in some sense based on Daphnis and Chloe? The parallels are too strong to not be deliberate, but was it direct or indirect influence is the question.

Books taking longer to digest:

Uncovering Heian Japan: An Archaeology of Sensation and Inscription, Thomas LaMarre - The odd subtitle obscures that this is really a study of the poetics of Kokinshu-era poetics and its entanglement with calligraphic styles (so nothing as expansive as the main title suggests). It's thinky enough that I have to take time off every five pages to process. It probably helps that I was already, in my own unsystematic way, already working toward some of the author's arguments (regarding the relationship between pivot-words and names-of-things poems), but other parts, I don't yet understand enough to evaluate.

A Waka Anthology, volume 2: Grasses of Remembrance, Edwin Cranston - 1100 folio pages do not go down in a single gulp. Or even two.

Tsunaide Tsukurou: Yunitto Origami (roughly,* "Let's Connect and Make: Unit Origami"), Tomoko Fuse - It is likewise impossible to rush through an origami book -- all the more so for unit origami.** Fuse is one of my three favorite origami artists,*** and this book hasn't been translated, that I'm aware of -- found in used book store's foreign-language section, along with several Japanese origami books from the library of someone from Alberta. I kept myself to under five, but snagged all of Fuse's, and I started on this as the looking the most interesting.

Haiku: The Poetry of Nature, ed. David Cobb - On the other hand, while it's possible to read a haiku collection in a single sitting, doing to so pretty much misses the point. This one has a pretty good mix of traditional and modern poets, generally in reasonable translations, plus lots of pretty pictures from the Japanese collection from The British Museum.


* This can probably be rendered more idiomatically.

** The domain of such implied instructions as "Now make 19 more of those so we can assemble them."

*** Robert Lang and John Montroll.


---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (completed)
Books recently devoured upon arrival in-house:

Cross Game v7, Mitsuru Adachi - Contains v14-15 of the Japanese edition -- one more volume to go. I am once again reminded of just how good Adachi is at storytelling, as the implications of the events of v6 continue to reverberate and the characters prepare for the climactic summer qualifying tournament. (I use "reverberate" deliberately -- echoes, structural and ironic, are a major tool in his kit.) Highly recommended, still.

Girl Meets Boy, Ali Smith - This is billed as a retelling of Iphis and Ianthe, but it's not so much that as a genderqueer romance with characters conscious of Ovid -- including two separate summaries of Ovid's version, one told in character. A fun, breezy read, though the partial implication that one solution to the problems of the world is to go Brazil-ending is not as encouraging as was probably intended.

Fly by Night, Frances Hardinge - I want to sit this book down in a locked room with Westmark and then eavesdrop as they try to figure out whether how much to trust each other, and what's to be gained by turning the other in. Wonderful evocation of pre-modern espionage, even though too much time is spent without the goose. I am inexplicably without the sequel.

The Sound of Waves, Yukio Mishima - I gather this is the Mishima novel I'm most likely to connect to. I must say, it's a good unraveling of exactly why secret lovers in Japanese poetry angst over discovery so much. I get the very strong impression that, even though the heroine is (like the hero) so very much An Ideal it's not even funny, Mishima did not like women. I also get the impression Mishima preferred the unreflective type in his boy-toys. All carping aside, I like the story itself -- I'm guessing it's in some sense based on Daphnis and Chloe? The parallels are too strong to not be deliberate, but was it direct or indirect influence is the question.

Books taking longer to digest:

Uncovering Heian Japan: An Archaeology of Sensation and Inscription, Thomas LaMarre - The odd subtitle obscures that this is really a study of the poetics of Kokinshu-era poetics and its entanglement with calligraphic styles (so nothing as expansive as the main title suggests). It's thinky enough that I have to take time off every five pages to process. It probably helps that I was already, in my own unsystematic way, already working toward some of the author's arguments (regarding the relationship between pivot-words and names-of-things poems), but other parts, I don't yet understand enough to evaluate.

A Waka Anthology, volume 2: Grasses of Remembrance, Edwin Cranston - 1100 folio pages do not go down in a single gulp. Or even two.

Tsunaide Tsukurou: Yunitto Origami (roughly,* "Let's Connect and Make: Unit Origami"), Tomoko Fuse - It is likewise impossible to rush through an origami book -- all the more so for unit origami.** Fuse is one of my three favorite origami artists,*** and this book hasn't been translated, that I'm aware of -- found in used book store's foreign-language section, along with several Japanese origami books from the library of someone from Alberta. I kept myself to under five, but snagged all of Fuse's, and I started on this as the looking the most interesting.

Haiku: The Poetry of Nature, ed. David Cobb - On the other hand, while it's possible to read a haiku collection in a single sitting, doing to so pretty much misses the point. This one has a pretty good mix of traditional and modern poets, generally in reasonable translations, plus lots of pretty pictures from the Japanese collection from The British Museum.


* This can probably be rendered more idiomatically.

** The domain of such implied instructions as "Now make 19 more of those so we can assemble them."

*** Robert Lang and John Montroll.


---L.
larryhammer: a wisp of smoke, label: "it comes in curlicues, spirals as it twirls" (curlicues)
Random observations:

Just how lonely are the clouds in the Lake District, anyway? And do they wander about? Given the climate, I would think they'd be many and close together, and travel the wind's straight path.

(Yes, yes, I know: in context Wordsworth's saying he was apart from others the way a high cloud is apart from the earth, with an emotional distance. But he's the one who chose to use ambiguous syntax and break the line where he did, creating the easy alternate reading.)

Meanwhile, in the Department of Feeling Uncultured, I hadn't realized that Laurence Alma-Tadema was a woman. Her name was originally Laurense, which is apparently the female form of Laurens, the Dutch Laurence.

(Memo to self: just because I am a male Laurence, doesn't mean it's always a male name.)

If you're in a meeting that includes people of a certain generation, and someone says "Anybody?" and gets no response, the odds are, someone will finally say, "Bueller?"

(My cultural literacy: let me show you how dated it is.)

---L.
larryhammer: a wisp of smoke, label: "it comes in curlicues, spirals as it twirls" (curlicues)
Random observations:

Just how lonely are the clouds in the Lake District, anyway? And do they wander about? Given the climate, I would think they'd be many and close together, and travel the wind's straight path.

(Yes, yes, I know: in context Wordsworth's saying he was apart from others the way a high cloud is apart from the earth, with an emotional distance. But he's the one who chose to use ambiguous syntax and break the line where he did, creating the easy alternate reading.)

Meanwhile, in the Department of Feeling Uncultured, I hadn't realized that Laurence Alma-Tadema was a woman. Her name was originally Laurense, which is apparently the female form of Laurens, the Dutch Laurence.

(Memo to self: just because I am a male Laurence, doesn't mean it's always a male name.)

If you're in a meeting that includes people of a certain generation, and someone says "Anybody?" and gets no response, the odds are, someone will finally say, "Bueller?"

(My cultural literacy: let me show you how dated it is.)

---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (La!)
Last year, it was a scary pumpkin. This year's pumpkin said :-). We had trick-or-treaters anyway.

Recently read:

Early Auden and Later Auden, Edward Mendelson - Illuminating and compelling interpretations of the works of my favorite 20th century poet, but gah the last couple chapters are depressing. What Chester Kallman did to Auden did not scarify but ulcerated, and by the 1960s it was eating him up, leaving him a hollow man. No wonder I find little he wrote after "About the House" worth remembering.

The English and Scottish Ballads songs 1-50, James Francis Child - I'm currently reading through all the variants, at the rate of one or two ballads a day. Of the first 50, the creepiest is probably "Proud Lady Margaret," in which the title lady is scornful of a scruffy suitor who then bests her at riddling, and when she admits he's her match reveals that he's her dead brother, then says no, she can't follow him into the grave because she's too dirty, delivers a homily against pride, and finally disappears. Which almost merits a poll: which is worse, getting pregnant by your unrecognized brother or being knowingly courted by your dead brother?

Also, I can only conclude that "wee pen-knife" meant something different in northern England two centuries ago than it does in the States today.

Strange Stories from the Lodge of Leisures - Being selections from a 18th-century collection of classic Chinese ghost stories and other tales of the supernatural. Quoth the translator: "European students ... have worked from generation to generation in order to translate more and more accurately the thirteen classics, Confucius, Mengtsz, and the others. They did not notice that, once out of school, the Chinese did not pay more attention to their classics than we do to ours: if you see a book in their hands, it will never be the "Great Study" or the "Analects," but much more likely a novel like the "History of the Three Kingdoms," or a selection of ghost-stories." From which you can get an idea of his prosecraft and orientalizing. The ghost stories are genuinely creepy regardless. (The others, not so much.)

Yotsuba&! chapter 76, Kiyohiko Azuma - There is something astonishingly dissonant about seeing the series tag-line "Today is always the most enjoyable day" on a chapter title page of a dejected Yotsuba in pajamas. There's also something rather touching about Yotsuba spending almost an entire chapter dejected.* This is no longer the character of chapter 7, described by her father as "Nothing can get her down -- nothing."


* The voice box of her beloved beddy-tear broke, and was being held overnight by Asagi for "surgery."


---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (La!)
Last year, it was a scary pumpkin. This year's pumpkin said :-). We had trick-or-treaters anyway.

Recently read:

Early Auden and Later Auden, Edward Mendelson - Illuminating and compelling interpretations of the works of my favorite 20th century poet, but gah the last couple chapters are depressing. What Chester Kallman did to Auden did not scarify but ulcerated, and by the 1960s it was eating him up, leaving him a hollow man. No wonder I find little he wrote after "About the House" worth remembering.

The English and Scottish Ballads songs 1-50, James Francis Child - I'm currently reading through all the variants, at the rate of one or two ballads a day. Of the first 50, the creepiest is probably "Proud Lady Margaret," in which the title lady is scornful of a scruffy suitor who then bests her at riddling, and when she admits he's her match reveals that he's her dead brother, then says no, she can't follow him into the grave because she's too dirty, delivers a homily against pride, and finally disappears. Which almost merits a poll: which is worse, getting pregnant by your unrecognized brother or being knowingly courted by your dead brother?

Also, I can only conclude that "wee pen-knife" meant something different in northern England two centuries ago than it does in the States today.

Strange Stories from the Lodge of Leisures - Being selections from a 18th-century collection of classic Chinese ghost stories and other tales of the supernatural. Quoth the translator: "European students ... have worked from generation to generation in order to translate more and more accurately the thirteen classics, Confucius, Mengtsz, and the others. They did not notice that, once out of school, the Chinese did not pay more attention to their classics than we do to ours: if you see a book in their hands, it will never be the "Great Study" or the "Analects," but much more likely a novel like the "History of the Three Kingdoms," or a selection of ghost-stories." From which you can get an idea of his prosecraft and orientalizing. The ghost stories are genuinely creepy regardless. (The others, not so much.)

Yotsuba&! chapter 76, Kiyohiko Azuma - There is something astonishingly dissonant about seeing the series tag-line "Today is always the most enjoyable day" on a chapter title page of a dejected Yotsuba in pajamas. There's also something rather touching about Yotsuba spending almost an entire chapter dejected.* This is no longer the character of chapter 7, described by her father as "Nothing can get her down -- nothing."


* The voice box of her beloved beddy-tear broke, and was being held overnight by Asagi for "surgery."


---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (wanderweg)
So I've been on something of a Kipling kick, aided and abetted most recently by spending the last week hanging out and hammocking up in remote mountains of western New Mexico. Reservoirs in ponderosa grasslands seems to be conducive to Kipling (especially the one only reachable by driving two hours over gravel roads). I'd already read most of his short fiction written before he left India in 1889, but after that, only those stories that make it into selected volumes. (Though of course I grew up on Just So Stories and Mowgli and Puck.)

I already posted about rereading Kim (1901). Before that, there was The Story of the Gadsbys (1888), Under the Deodars (1888), and The Phantom Rickshaw (1888). Since then, it's been Stalky & Co. (1899), Plain Tales from the Hills (1888), Life's Handicap (1891), Many Inventions (1893), The Day's Work (1898), and Traffics and Discoveries (1904), and I'm now partway through Actions and Reactions (1909).

One thing that strikes me is that while he lived in imperial India,* he wrote about people living as imperialists, but after he left, he started writing about imperialism -- always in favor. Kim is the great exception to this, of course, as there he seems to have rediscovered his knack of getting under the skin of people other than his own. Life's Handicap is the turning point -- its stories set in India are largely of a sameness with earlier stories (close enough in memory to write it fresh?), while those set outside it are of later stories. Not that everything is imperialistic -- but it is indeed notable that his better stories are not About Imperialism, and rarely touch on it. Traffics and Discoveries is particularly telling, for as a whole it's rather dire (two words: Boer War) but it contains three of his best stories up to then: "Wireless," "Them," and "Mrs. Bathurst."

I am still puzzling over the anonymous first-person narrator who shows up in many tales. Often he has biographical details, when we get any, that suspiciously accord with Kipling's -- and indeed the narrator of "A Conference of the Powers" (from Many Inventions) is identified in Stalky & Co. as Beetle in later years, who we know from Kipling's comments is modeled on himself, and that story has at least one character who crosses over into other stories. The narrator of "Them" has, like Kipling, lost a daughter on a timescale commensurate with the date of publication. And yet sometimes, also, this narrator is a jerkass -- such as in "Brugglesmith" and sequels. One wants to, as much as possible, identify these narrators with Kipling, or at least a persona of him, despite the occasional supernatural story among them. Yet it's not at all clear that, crossovers and sequels aside, they are even the same narrator.

I must say, though, that although Kipling was supremely gifted at voices, his dialect writing can get kinda ow, especially when he gets aksenchual. If you thought his mix of Irish, Yorkshire, and Cockney of the Soldiers Three stories was bad enough, check out his handling of American accents in the mouths of horses.

At his best, Kipling is very, very good. At his less good ... well. Yeah. That.

It is probably not a good thing to realize that, thanks to those wonderful bits of technology known as "Project Gutenberg" and "cut-and-paste," it is possible to create one's own personal collection of Kipling's best. That way lies madness, or at least distraction.


* I should probably be explicit here and note that I use "India" here in the sense of his time, covering the entire region of eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan, modern India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Burma/Myanmar.


---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (wanderweg)
So I've been on something of a Kipling kick, aided and abetted most recently by spending the last week hanging out and hammocking up in remote mountains of western New Mexico. Reservoirs in ponderosa grasslands seems to be conducive to Kipling (especially the one only reachable by driving two hours over gravel roads). I'd already read most of his short fiction written before he left India in 1889, but after that, only those stories that make it into selected volumes. (Though of course I grew up on Just So Stories and Mowgli and Puck.)

I already posted about rereading Kim (1901). Before that, there was The Story of the Gadsbys (1888), Under the Deodars (1888), and The Phantom Rickshaw (1888). Since then, it's been Stalky & Co. (1899), Plain Tales from the Hills (1888), Life's Handicap (1891), Many Inventions (1893), The Day's Work (1898), and Traffics and Discoveries (1904), and I'm now partway through Actions and Reactions (1909).

One thing that strikes me is that while he lived in imperial India,* he wrote about people living as imperialists, but after he left, he started writing about imperialism -- always in favor. Kim is the great exception to this, of course, as there he seems to have rediscovered his knack of getting under the skin of people other than his own. Life's Handicap is the turning point -- its stories set in India are largely of a sameness with earlier stories (close enough in memory to write it fresh?), while those set outside it are of later stories. Not that everything is imperialistic -- but it is indeed notable that his better stories are not About Imperialism, and rarely touch on it. Traffics and Discoveries is particularly telling, for as a whole it's rather dire (two words: Boer War) but it contains three of his best stories up to then: "Wireless," "Them," and "Mrs. Bathurst."

I am still puzzling over the anonymous first-person narrator who shows up in many tales. Often he has biographical details, when we get any, that suspiciously accord with Kipling's -- and indeed the narrator of "A Conference of the Powers" (from Many Inventions) is identified in Stalky & Co. as Beetle in later years, who we know from Kipling's comments is modeled on himself, and that story has at least one character who crosses over into other stories. The narrator of "Them" has, like Kipling, lost a daughter on a timescale commensurate with the date of publication. And yet sometimes, also, this narrator is a jerkass -- such as in "Brugglesmith" and sequels. One wants to, as much as possible, identify these narrators with Kipling, or at least a persona of him, despite the occasional supernatural story among them. Yet it's not at all clear that, crossovers and sequels aside, they are even the same narrator.

I must say, though, that although Kipling was supremely gifted at voices, his dialect writing can get kinda ow, especially when he gets aksenchual. If you thought his mix of Irish, Yorkshire, and Cockney of the Soldiers Three stories was bad enough, check out his handling of American accents in the mouths of horses.

At his best, Kipling is very, very good. At his less good ... well. Yeah. That.

It is probably not a good thing to realize that, thanks to those wonderful bits of technology known as "Project Gutenberg" and "cut-and-paste," it is possible to create one's own personal collection of Kipling's best. That way lies madness, or at least distraction.


* I should probably be explicit here and note that I use "India" here in the sense of his time, covering the entire region of eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan, modern India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Burma/Myanmar.


---L.

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