Monday, July 30, 2007

Exceedingly Good Prose

I recently read Kipling's autobiography Something of Myself, which contrary to the introduction by Richard Holmes isn't a Modernist masterpiece but a reticent and traditional memoir, but no less fascinating for that. How about this for a sparkling aside:

"(Also, by pure luck, I had sight of the first sickening uprush and vomit of iridescent coal-dusted water into the hold of a ship, a crippled iron hulk, sinking at her moorings.)"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

He was a brilliant writer in some ways. A great coiner of quotable phrases and a fine stylist generally. It's an interesting exercise (assuming you agree with the premise) to try to complete this sentence:

'Kipling was exceptionally talented but in the end he doesn't measure up to the true greats because...'

6:50 PM  
Blogger Tony Williams said...

Quite right, Harry. Randall Jarrell touches on this subject in the section on Kipling in 'Kipling, Auden & Co. I wonder if it is partly do to do with Kipling's professionalism - his great technical skill may have been acquired through working as a journalist under pressure, but the same conditions might also have had negative effects. But I would need to read more of him than I have done to be confident of any judgment.

8:19 PM  

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