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Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 09:31AM
So, which of these two classic horror stories hits the similar thematic nail on the head most effectively? Are the narrators' points of view the key difference, and which one exhibits the most effective style? I favor Kipling on the basis of style, but at one point he slips up by having the narrator wonder out loud if the Mark could be some sort of latent birthmark. The tension of not wanting to believe in the curse is stretched too far by his absurd conjecture--or is it?

jkh

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 11:19AM
OK, I just read Beast. This was maybe the 2nd time. I'm going to do each story separately, then try to do the comparison separately, as well.

Overall, I'd say that the story is way, way over-the-top, not so much subject matter (for me, it's hard not to think that the entire fantasy genre is over-the-top by definition, the reader knows this going in, is OK with it, so conceptually anything goes) as the manner of narration. This may in large part be due to the voice Kipling used as the narrator--essentially, a 19th C English adventurer in India. He is as over-the-top as the stereotypical contemporary Australian. Crocodile Dundee, normed for the British Raj.

But Kipling is of course responsible for choosing not only the voice--although the narrative flow required a direct witness of some kind, and this would likely be, yep, a Victorian Englishman of the era. But the extent to which the character falls readily into cliche is unnecessary. An overdrawn character.

I'd say that this story has "commercial product" written all over it--it feels like a shaggy dog story at times. No actual authorial involvement, intellectually, philosophically, or aesthetically. It's a *very* talented writer punching the clock.

There's no sense of anything deeper going on than the notion of "east is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet." There is no hint of supernatural mechanisms in place, different cosmologies at work, etc. Very much like the common knowledge that gypsies can tell fortunes, and are light fingered.

Amusing at a very superficial level, relying heavily on repulsive imagery.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 11:49AM
I'll want to reread "Mark of the Beast." In the meantime, I'll mention that it was the Kipling selection for a one-shot course on Late Victorian and Edwardian Fantasy that I prepared for 1996. In case a description of it would be out of place here, I'll start a thread of its own on that.

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 12:54PM
Re-read Lukundoo now. This, too, is probably the second or third time.

I think White's method of narration is better than Kipling's in Beast. He chose a less overcooked narrator (Singleton), and told much of the story in dialog--which seems highly unlikely that Singleton, in recounting to story to the others, would have used dialog, but..."poetic license" :^) .

This, too, is a sort of never the twain shall meet story, in that there is no real explanation of what supernatural mechanisms are in play, or what sort of cosmos would permit them, but that's OK for this kind of story.

White does a very interesting thing with characterization. He sets this in a private club, looks like (BTW, this is how I see the ED forum... :^) ), and a sort of alpha male (Twombly) is holding forth by the fire. Then Singleton, a wallflower by comparison, interjects his story, and here's what's important in establishing a sort of enhanced credibility: by comparing a blustering bullshitter (Twombly can easily be imagined to be like that) to a reserved observer, when the observer speaks, we *listen*, and his views have a sort of default credibility.

Then we get Van Rieten, who is a Euro-centrist, if ever there was one--proud, arrogant, and Echtam, who is:

Quote:
White

Even though he was in tatters and had five days' beard on, you could see he was naturally dapper and neat and the sort of man to shave daily. He was small, but wiry. His face was the sort of British face from which emotion has been so carefully banished that a foreigner is apt to think the wearer of the face incapable of any sort of feeling; the kind of face which, if it has any expression at all, expresses principally the resolution to go through the world decorously, without intruding upon or annoying anyone.

Salt of the earth, that.

This makes him a lot like Singleton--relatively high credibility, which is needed to plausibly get the Van Rieten expedition to go one week out of its way to help Stone, Echtam's leader, and the veritable model of the 19th C British gentleman's manly ideal, complete with the sin of hubris.

(Here I'll note what I think is a plot flaw: why was Echtam traveling with two tiny heads? Sure, it turned out that he needed to show them to Van Rieten to finally motivate him to go to Stone--but how in the world would he have clearly known in advance that this might be needed? I mean, he did a forced march thru terrible conditions for a week, bringing along with him two tiny heads?

...but this falls *just barely* within what I'll accept, if the payoff is sufficient. Yet there was no real reason that White had to do it that way--he did it to advance the plot in a manipulative fashion, so far as I can see.)

So Van Rieten--who,if you think about it, is a lot like Van Helsing, if Van Helsing had decided to explore Africa instead of becoming the world's leading expert on vampires--sees the heads, goes to Stone (otherwise, he ignores Stone, and so Singleton would have no tale to tell at the club, later), sees the eruption of the latest head, lops it off, and has a deathbed discussion with Stone, who bravely faces his deserved fate, then expires.

And if this all sounds unlikely to you, Singleton realizes it and says, at the end:

Quote:
"I did not expect you to believe it," he said; "I began by saying that although I heard and saw it, when I look back on it I cannot credit it myself."

Too, the story scores even *higher* on The YUK! Factor scale than Beast. It's hard to top a terminal leper in repugnance, but the "carbuncles" do it for me.

Still, I feel that the story conveyed more care and author commitment to the finished product than Kipling showed in the Beast.

My opinions, only.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 02:14PM
The fate of Dumoise is told in Kipling's "By Word of Mouth."

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 02:33PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The fate of Dumoise is told in Kipling's "By Word
> of Mouth."


Yep, he managed to indirectly plug another story, if you've got five extra shillings.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 02:40PM
So I didn't much care for Mark of the Beast, which was no doubt evident, but what about this one?

The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows

[en.wikisource.org]

Quite short, not supernatural by any stretch, but the story blew me away. Completely and utterly.

I have read it only once, maybe two years ago.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 02:45PM
I'm still on "The Mark of the Beast," which prompts me to suggest (a bit facetiously) that Horror stories come down to one or more of these four situations:

1.Something wants to kill/eat me.
2.Ewww! Look what's happened to him/her -- no, don't.
3.Oh no -- what have I/they done?
4.I think I'm going nuts.

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 03:25PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'm still on "The Mark of the Beast," which
> prompts me to suggest (a bit facetiously) that
> Horror stories come down to one or more of these
> four situations:
>
> 1.Something wants to kill/eat me.
> 2.Ewww! Look what's happened to him/her -- no,
> don't.

!!!

> 3.Oh no -- what have I/they done?
> 4.I think I'm going nuts.


Hah!

"The Beginner's Guide to Horror"

Good one! Get your name on it, Dale! ;^)

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 04:30PM
I haven't read "Lukundoo" (unless long ago). I would prefer to go on to "The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows" next.

"Mark of the Beast" again impressed me. It doesn't become a farce of horror, and yet several sources of horror converge in it.

1.The natural revulsion evoked by the unfortunate Silver Man's advanced leprosy
2.The supernatural or preternatural horror of Fleete's lycanthropic sufferings
3.The physical horror of the torture inflicted upon the Silver Man

The deployment of these several elements and the author's discreet management of them are far above what one would expect from the imagination of a writer of routine pulp.

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 04:37PM
The Kipling Society posts thorough notes on the stories:

[www.kiplingsociety.co.uk]
[www.kiplingsociety.co.uk]

[www.kiplingsociety.co.uk]
[www.kiplingsociety.co.uk]

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 05:30PM
You toil at writing, you aspire to Literature. Then you read "The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows," written by Kipling when he was 18. You might be tempted to lay down your pen and take up stamps.

But seriously, what an impressive piece, and one that, I should think, would have appealed to CAS. It's a horror story for all the gentleness of its telling, the confession of a man who sees death is approaching but is paralyzed by apathy. Wheww!

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 06:29PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> You toil at writing, you aspire to Literature.
> Then you read "The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows,"
> written by Kipling when he was 18. You might be
> tempted to lay down your pen and take up stamps.


HAH!!!

Great, great ironically comic response, Dale!

Yep, I had taken one or two creative writing classes, liked some of the stuff I did, even, but realistically...

I don't really have the creative gene, I'm afraid...

>
> But seriously, what an impressive piece, and one
> that, I should think, would have appealed to CAS.
> It's a horror story for all the gentleness of its
> telling, the confession of a man who sees death is
> approaching but is paralyzed by apathy. Wheww!

I hoped you might like it, and not waste your time...

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 06:40PM
I can hardly imagine that anything by Kipling would be a waste of time to read.

Next story?

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 07:12PM
I don't know; not my thread to direct.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

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