Rudyard Kipling, like a burning diamond

The English writer Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), portrayed around 1900.adoc-photos (Corbis via Getty Images)

Not long ago, an expert in Indian art berated me, in a relaxed talk, for saying “India”, instead of what is now politically correct: just India. He explained to me that, for example, you don’t say “Paris” or “France.” I replied with laughter that “the United States” or “the Bahamas” is used instead. She was crestfallen and insisted that this “it” makes you think of a remote, fantastic, unreal, inferior and, ultimately, not very modern country. That using it is pejorative and that it is typical of colonialism and imperialism of past centuries. On the fascism, which are returning, he added nothing.

For Rudyard Kipling, the great writer, journalist, poet and Nobel Prize winner for Literature at the age of 41, born in Bombay in 1865 and died in London in 1936, this chicken talk would have killed him with laughter. How much linguistic pomp, and what little appreciation for the daimon. Yes, that tutelary genie of each one, sometimes buzzy, is a luminous and elusive friend, even irritable, who has the patience to bring each one’s discarded life to fruition. And in that of the writer it never failed him. But everything changes as soon as you are careless. Kipling, read with enthusiasm during childhood, but crushed by adults who have hardly enjoyed a movie inspired by many of his works, has been like a ping-pong ball among souls short of breath and joy. Serious and fair people, it would be missing more!

His inherited colonialism, his titles and honors, his triumphs and his popularity gave rise to a classist, old or uncomfortable character. It went out of style, yes. Nor did they forgive him for being a Mason, much less for checking daily if his feng-shui it was aligned with that of the rooms in which he stayed for more than an hour. Kipling himself recounted that his daimon He got, in addition to spiritual tools, healing wonders, or magic, and even some element so difficult to catch in our civilized world today as “a bright burning.” By now, you may have guessed that Kipling would not be part of the mob of pragmatists today or the fold of fashionable people, who literally plug our already stifled imagination every day. That is why it must be read now, as an act of bravery, never sentimentality or capricious snobbery.

Today, Kipling would not be part of the mob of pragmatists who block our asphyxiated imaginations every day. That is why it must be read now, as an act of bravery, never sentimentality or capricious snobbery

With that intention I choose, among all his famous stories, as Kim from India or The man who wanted to reign, his posthumous memoirs, entitled Something of myself. He wrote it a year before he died. It is a book that was not translated in our country when it came out and that I handle in the first Spanish edition of Pre-Texts, translated and prefaced by Álvaro García in 1998. In this beautiful and caustic account of his life, among other direct indications, He announces that he should not be treated like a flying feather, but with attention, when he wants to clarify the laws of his writing profession. His father, who was an artist, had advised him that “things should work out wisely by themselves.”

The son kept the promise and got to it: words with weight, flavor, and, if necessary, smell. Later he would confess: “I learned that, in a story, removing lines is like stoking the fire.” And another quote: “The mere act of writing has been for me, and continues to be, a physical pleasure.” Only on the last page he acknowledges: “My way of treating books, which I considered work tools, was popularly regarded as barbaric. But I saved a lot on penknives and my index finger didn’t hurt. Some books I respected because they were on lockable shelves. The rest, distributed throughout the house, they gambled ”.

I would like not to forget these exact and exciting lines that Fernando Savater, a great Kipling addict, wrote a long time ago: “Golden son of imperialism, whose poetic courage discovered (or invented) the wonders of India for a fascinated Europe.” Whenever I talk about Fernando, great things happen to me. I just came across some old India ink illustrations depicting a prehistoric creature, almost a dragon, and illustrating the following fact. I examine them cautiously. What else could a savage debugger like Kipling expect! Apparently, they have named a prehistoric crocodile after him, whose fossils were scattered, and later found and collected in England. Its scientific name is Goniopholis Kiplingí. This is how the story ends: yes non è vero è ben trovato.

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Rudyard Kipling, like a burning diamond