How The Just So Stories Were Made

Kathryn Hughes at The Guardian:

It is always tricky writing about Kipling. By the time of his death in 1936 his jingoism, with its babble about the “white man’s burden” in Africa, made many moderate souls feel queasy. Batchelor is too scrupulous a scholar to ignore what came after the Just So Stories – indeed he points out that within two years of the book’s publication the satirist Max Beerbohm was drawing Kipling as an imperial stooge, the diminutive bugle-blowing cockney lover of a blousy-looking Britannia.

Nonetheless, Batchelor urges us to see the stories as evidence that as a young man Kipling was an imaginative artist of the first rank. Full of bustling linguistic ingenuity, conjured by a man whose first language was actually Hindi rather than English, the stories themselves are hopeful, expansive, joyfully attentive to a world where difference and separation can be mended by imaginative acts.

more here.