The Long Recessional by David Gilmour
The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling

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Synopsis

A major new biography of Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was a unique figure in British history, a great writer as well as an imperial icon whose life trajectory matched that of the British Empire from its zenith to its final decades. Kipling was in his early twenties when his first stories about Anglo-Indian life vaulted him into celebrity. He went on to be awarded the Nobel Prize, and to add more phrases to the language than any man since Shakespeare, but his conservative views and advocacy of imperialism damaged his critical reputation -- while at the same time making him all the more popular with a general readership. By the time he died, the man who incarnated an era for millions was almost forgotten, and new generations must come to terms in their own way with his enduring but mysterious powers.

Previous works on Kipling have focused exclusively on his writing and on his domestic life. Here, the distinguished biographer David Gilmour not only explains how and why Kipling wrote, but also explores the themes of his complicated life, his ideas, his relationships, and his views on the Empire and the future. Gilmour is the first writer to explore Kipling's public role, his influence on the way Britons saw themselves and their Empire. His fascinating new book, based on extensive research (especially in the underexplored archives of the United States), is a groundbreaking study of a great and misunderstood writer.

 

About David Gilmour

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David Gilmour is the author of several highly acclaimed works of literary and political history, including two prize-winning biographies, Curzon and The Last Leopard: A Life of Giuseppe di Lampedusa. He lives in Edinburgh.
 
Published June 11, 2003 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 368 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

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(Strangely, Gilmour spends little time discussing what may be Kipling’s best short story, “The Man Who Would Be King,” which shows what happens when empires stretch too thin.) Treading political minefields carefully, the author takes pains to distinguish Kipling’s global-level politics from his a...

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Publishers Weekly

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Gilmour attempts the difficult task of distinguishing Kipling's (1865–1936) concepts of English patriotism and the civilizing mission of the British empire from those of his jingoistic c

Apr 29 2002 | Read Full Review of The Long Recessional: The Imp...

The Guardian

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The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling David Gilmour John Murray £22.50, pp362 The point about Kipling is that - chronologically, instinctively - he was a journalist first.

Mar 10 2002 | Read Full Review of The Long Recessional: The Imp...

Publishers Weekly

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If Kipling warned against "the Hun" before the Great War, the bitterest irony of his last phase was that after the Tommy Atkinses he celebrated in Barrack-Room Ballads had been wiped out in Flanders, as Gilmour keenly observes, Kipling's only lasting literary contribution to the war was the War ...

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London Review of Books

He wasn’t much loved in his own time, apparently, even by people – schoolmates, for example, and neighbours in Vermont – with whom he thought he was rubbing along well.

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Project MUSE

Long unpopular in academic circles, Kipling's reputation has undergone a sea change since 9/11 provoked American sabre rattling, and David Gilmour could not have picked a better time to publish his latest work, The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling, a sympathetic look at the...

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