Monday, April 17, 2017

Rudyard Kipling and the House of Desolation: Part II

 Part 1 described how Rudyard Kipling and his younger sister were consigned to the care of Mrs Holloway, a committed Evangelical and a bigoted and ignorant woman who took a dislike to Kipling and treated him very badly. He endured many years of her cruelty and neglect, not to mention hell-fire Christianity.

There are some more questions to be asked.

Why didn’t Rudyard Kipling say anything?
Kipling said that his beloved aunt asked him this question many times.

He gave two reasons for his not telling anyone how he was being treated. He said that children accept everything that happens to them as inevitable and eternal; he also said that they sense what they will get if they betray the secrets of the prison-house before they are well clear of it.

These are good answers – as far as they go.

Children in general do think that whatever adults do is normal behaviour; children are often threatened with dire consequences for speaking out, perhaps verbally or perhaps with unspoken but well conveyed and understood intention. They may be afraid of losing what little they have.

However, there may be more to it.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Rudyard Kipling and the House of Desolation: Part I

There is an episode in Rudyard Kipling's childhood that is of great interest to me: the miserable years of torment spent in what he later called ‘The House of Desolation’.

He endured five and a half years of calculated neglect, persecution, punishment and humiliation at the hands of a horrible, cruel, religious fanatic of a women called Mrs Holloway and her awful bully of a son. Some of the damage that this prolonged and constant torture caused was permanent.

He wrote about his ordeal in the short story Baa Baa, Black Sheep, in his novel The Light that Failed and in his autobiographical work Something of Myself. It makes very painful reading, at least for people who have experienced something similar.

This nightmare interlude in Kipling's childhood has also been described and discussed extensively in many biographies, reviews, essays and articles; there is no need to reproduce all the details and cover the same ground here. I just want to concentrate on a few aspects of this case, on some unseen but familiar influences and some connections that I have noticed.

First, a few questions.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Today is the 25th anniversary of Isaac Asimov's death

Isaac Asimov died at the age of 72 on 6th April 1992. His death was a great loss to the world.

I enjoyed reading his Science Fiction novels and stories very much; I bought an old 2-volume pack of his autobiography at a big discount a while back, and found In Memory Yet Green and In Joy Still Felt just as good.

I like information, and these books are packed with it. He describes his early life so well that reading about it made me feel as though I had grown up in a poor area in 1930s New York myself.

I like the way he puts his life into the context of the times; he comes to realise that while his family were poor, they were not destitute like others in the Depression era. He also puts his life and personality into the context of other people's; he is balanced and objective when interpreting his earlier behaviour and explaining himself to his readers.