Tuesday, 30 November 2010

More Rudyard Kipling Fun!


Kipling had quite a wicked sense of humour. A smattering of quotations from the book Kipling Abroad:

  • On Calcutta, one city on the subcontinent of his birth which he despised:
[p. 62] "When I had disgusted all who knew me, I fled to Calcutta, which, I was pained to see, still persisted in being a city and transacting commerce after I had formally cursed it one year ago. That curse I now repeat, in the hope that the unsavoury capital will collapse."

  • On the city of Oakland, East of San Francisco:
[p. 108] "We pulled out at the wholly insignificant speed of twenty-five miles an hour through the streets of a suburb of fifty thousand, and in our progress among the carts and the children and the shop fronts slew nobody; at which I was not a little disappointed."

  • On Yellowstone National Park, which provoked all Kipling's favourite bugbears, primarily "tourists," whom he scorned with an intensity completely unmatched by even the most vociferous travel-snob of today:
[pp. 112-3] "To-day I am in the Yellowstone Park, and I wish I were dead... The tourists -- may their master die an evil death at the hand of a mad locomotive!"

  • On Chicago, which reminds him of the first city he truly despised. [While there he witnessed the slaughterhouse industry, which in a few years would be the subject of Upton Sinclair's famous exposé The Jungle (1906) ]:
[p. 116] "It holds rather more than a million people with bodies, and stands on the same sort of soil as Calcutta. Having seen it, I urgently desire never to see it again. It is inhabited by savages. Its water is the water of the Hughli, and its air is dirt."

Read more reflections on history, idleness, and the art of living from the Idle Historian in To The Idler The Spoils 

1 comment:

H Temple said...

Now I know why his cousin and novelist Angela Thirkell had such a sharp tongue! It was clearly something in their heredity!

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