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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 07:26PM
Possibly the thread should be renamed, if that can be done, to something like "Kipling's Weird Fiction."

JKH/Kipling, this was your thread -- your thoughts about what to do next?

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 07:47PM
Sure.

SUPER THREAD: Kipling's Weird Fiction

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 09:13PM
May I suggest, as our next Kipling story, one of my favorites -- "At the End of the Passage"?

The confinement theme of the story might even fit our present Covid circumstances.

And, after that, "The Return / The Recrudescence of Imray"?

[www.kiplingsociety.co.uk]

DN

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2020 09:41PM
I'm going to need to get these (I will) and I'll also be out of town tomorrow (going to the Tacoma area to visit a relative) and will get to the first one on Sunday, most likely.

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: 26 September, 2020 11:14AM
Found both on Project Gutenberg last night and started Passage.

So far as establishing a "typical" character that worked under the British Raj (all of the card players are to this point similar), the heat, the lonliness, the homesickness, the sheer drudgery and misery of being in India and working there, from the POV of an Englishman, all this is superb, masterful.

No sign of the MacGuffin yet, though, and I now have to get going.

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: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 26 September, 2020 11:37AM
I'm curious about that 1996 course, Dale. Were Machen and/or M.R. James on the reading list? --"The essential quality of the ghost story is that it gives satisfying form to the unanswerable; to thoughts and feelings, even experiences, which are common to all imaginative people, but which cannot be rendered down scientifically into 'nothing but' something else"-- Robert Aickman

jkh

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 26 September, 2020 12:18PM
Kipling (JKH), there's a thread about the 1996 course that lists all the required readings -- yes, I included one story each for James and Machen.

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 26 September, 2020 12:29PM
"At the End of the Passage" is certainly a horror story. Kipling also makes it a story of "grace under pressure." These men don't particularly like each other, but they need each other and they recognize the imperative of duty. They try to do the right thing.

Kipling has been praised for being one of a relative few of authors who really wants to know about the work that his characters do. This can, on occasion, pose small challenges for readers who are not used to authors being interested in their characters' work, and who aren't familiar with the job or vocation in question. Happily, that need stop no one from understanding and enjoying Kipling, thanks to the detailed notes provided free by the Kipling Society online.

Kipling makes the preternatural or supernatural element of the story emerge from the convergence of specific elements -- character, isolation, oppressive heat, etc. Each of these elements is convincing in its own right, without running away with the story. Kipling hears the men's voices, he knows what their cards look like, he visualizes the layout of the bungalow clearly.

As in "The Mark of the Beast," one man becomes the locus of the frightening developments while others are witnesses (I'd rather say "witnesses" than "observers" or "spectators"). There seems to be no obvious reason why it should be he -- certainly no suggestion that he deserved what he experienced.

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 26 September, 2020 12:39PM
"The Return of Imray" is also a horror story, and here, I think, one might sense Kipling indulging more of an intention to write a shocker or flesh-creeper than with "At the End of the Passage." "Return" too is well furnished with authenticating details, but having read it one can see Kipling setting up his climax cleverly. To say this isn't to disparage the story. We can see what Kipling was up to & go along with it.

This one, though, is a little bit like Conan Doyle's "Speckled Band" in that, if not on a first reading, then later, one may realize that there is one or more great implausibilities -- which one doesn't notice, caught up in reading the tale. In "Band," one perhaps hardly pauses to consider the implausibility of the stepdaughter sleeping for many months in a bed that is bolted to the floor, but apparently without wondering why. She doesn't wonder what the deal is with the dummy bell-pull by the bed. And so on. I love that story, even so. Similarly, there's one big implausibility with "Return," which I am pretty sure I didn't notice on a first reading or two. Namely: there's this corpse up there overhead -- wouldn't there be quite a bad odor? Kipling may well have thought of that, but of course he can't have his characters wandering around the house talking about the stink; they'd have investigated long ago, & of course the reader would've twigged. I will go on liking this story even though there's that implausibility.

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 26 September, 2020 04:11PM
The way that the bodyservant fessed up so quickly reminded me of a joke told to me by a friend who had repatriated from 4 years' work in Japan, in the early mid-80s:

Question: How do the apprehend murders in Japan?

Answer: The murderer confesses after receiving a citation for jaywalking.


Cultural differences....ah, you gotta love 'em...

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: 28 September, 2020 12:29PM
Kipling Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> 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?

Ah! I'm getting back to it!

As I had written elsewhere, I preferred Lucas' story because I found Kipling's characters "overdrawn"--whatever that means. (To me, they are just a bit *too* much--distractingly so--and might have benefited from a less eccentric narrator, with other colorful characters intersperse--but this is a small complaint. It was a conscious artistic choice by a great master, and while I didn't agree with it, it was effectively executed.)

I also noted that Lucas slipped up, too, to my mind, by having a character carry around two shrunken heads on a forced march thru central Africa, for no good reason *other than to heavy-handedly resolve a problem with the plot*.

I don't know about the bite being tossed off as a birthmark as such a bad thing. By doing this, Kipling re-emphasizes the schism between the late 19th C British addiction to extreme materialism/Rationalism, as a sort of nod to contemporaneous convention. But the reader, by that point in the story, instantly sees it as a sort of last ditch grasping at straws...an attempt to deny the increasingly obvious.

What do you think?

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: 28 September, 2020 03:00PM
Interleaved, below:


Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "The Return of Imray" is also a horror story, and
> here, I think, one might sense Kipling indulging
> more of an intention to write a shocker or
> flesh-creeper than with "At the End of the
> Passage." "Return" too is well furnished with
> authenticating details, but having read it one can
> see Kipling setting up his climax cleverly. To
> say this isn't to disparage the story. We can see
> what Kipling was up to & go along with it.
>
> This one, though, is a little bit like Conan
> Doyle's "Speckled Band" in that, if not on a first
> reading, then later, one may realize that there is
> one or more great implausibilities -- which one
> doesn't notice, caught up in reading the tale. In
> "Band," one perhaps hardly pauses to consider the
> implausibility of the stepdaughter sleeping for
> many months in a bed that is bolted to the floor,
> but apparently without wondering why. She doesn't
> wonder what the deal is with the dummy bell-pull
> by the bed. And so on. I love that story, even
> so. Similarly, there's one big implausibility
> with "Return," which I am pretty sure I didn't
> notice on a first reading or two. Namely: there's
> this corpse up there overhead -- wouldn't there be
> quite a bad odor? Kipling may well have thought
> of that, but of course he can't have his
> characters wandering around the house talking
> about the stink; they'd have investigated long
> ago, & of course the reader would've twigged. I
> will go on liking this story even though there's
> that implausibility.

Let's see: by pure chance, it seems, the next resident of Imray's bungalow is a police inspector, himself a sort of weirdo, like Holmes--ate at all hours, standing up, like Grant on his march to the sea, has little-to-no social skill, and most important, has a locally acquired dog who has a deep and protective bond with Strickland.

Te narrator, Strickland's guest, has a couple of days' disquieting experience, which is verified by the dog, and less importantly, by Strickland, himself. Eventually the narrator wants to leave, and on the very night that will be his last (probably), Strickland sees the tails of a couple of snakes protruding around the "ceiling cloth", a peculiarity of a native bungalow, apparently, and in the act of routing them out, finds the corpse of Imray.

As an aside, Kipling does a nifty job in telling us about the native construction--and I personally have seen unexpected parallels in parts of Hawaii with what is called "kama'aina houses": modern houses with single wall construction, sort of a copy of Japanese residence construction techniques.

I was sufficiently engrossed in the tale that I didn't think of the likely smell, or where, in fact, the body could lie without deforming the ceiling cloth. But later I did, and I agree that it's a minor flaw in verisimilitude.

Again, I think that Kipling having the body servant, the murderer, confess openly and quickly underscored the difference in the cultures: he did not think of it as a crime--by his lights it was not--but understood that his British employers would, and so...

A fine, entertaining story by a master storyteller.

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: 28 September, 2020 04:37PM
I'd welcome others' nominations, but, in the meantime, what about a look at "The Phantom 'Rickshaw"?




[www.kiplingsociety.co.uk]

Re: Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" vrs. Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo".
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 28 September, 2020 07:06PM
To me, Rickshaw is fine; I'll also make further observations on "Passage", which I *believe* was the better of the two stories you referred most recently. Like you, I thought that the development of character and setting, and the interplay of the two were subtle additions to the effectiveness of the story.

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: 29 September, 2020 01:53PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "At the End of the Passage" is certainly a horror
> story. Kipling also makes it a story of "grace
> under pressure." These men don't particularly
> like each other, but they need each other and they
> recognize the imperative of duty. They try to do
> the right thing.

I'd like to discuss "Passage" at greater depth, especially the structure of the story, and some parts of what actually happened to Hummil, "poor old chap...".

Let me make it clear that I really enjoyed this story--better than "Imray" and the "Beast"--and as you mention later in this post, it's because I got to learn a whole lot about the commonplace workings of the British Raj. Plus the weather, the living quarters, the food, the natives, etc.

This was tremendously interesting and enjoyable to me.

OK, now into the specifics...

The copy of the story I have is 17 pages long. The first 9 pages are devoted to the miserable conditions, the past suicide of a guy called Jevins, etc. We are saturated with the tangible misery of living there, from the POV of a British subject. It isn't until after the card game, etc., when the other two guys go home, that even an inkling of the problem arises, nor is there any clue up to that point (and beyond, actually) that there is any supernatural element to the tale.

We need remember by name only Hummil and the doctor, Spurstow.

When the others leave, Hummil wants them to stay, but only Spurstow stays. They turn in, but Spurstow notices that Hummil is laying there, all wound up, not sleeping. At this point Hummil tells Spurstow of his troubles, which is principally fear of being caught and killed in a sort of ill-defined quasi dream state.

Now the nature of this state becomes confusing--and it is well to note that so far we know of nothing that Hummil has done--although reading the story quickly, I may have missed either an admission or an inference of some punishable sin by Hummil--to deserve what follows.

Hummil seems to say that he can't sleep, and he is essentially stalked by something fearful--and it appears to me that he's most vulnerable when half-asleep. It seems that if he's either awake, or deeply, soundly asleep, he's OK, and we know the latter because he seeks sleep (of course) in the form of medical intervention--and he emerged from this sound enough. Spurstow uses morphine (carried in his *cigarette case*---hmmmm....), but not enough. And in this haf-state Hummil explains that he'll be caught unless he's all the way asleep, apparently. He never fully explains how this works, but we can get this thru inference.

So far we *still* don't know why he has been singled out for this fate, so while his eventual demise looks a lot like moral recompense, he seems innocent of any wrong-doing, knowingly or unknowingly (like in "Imray").

After a good night's sleep, Hummil feels better and says that he's going to stick it out until the rains, *even though Spurstow will help him get leave*. This is done for very noble reasons; Hummil's replacement, and his wife, would not be able to take the heat of that part of India as well as Hummil.

To get to the point, a week passes, Spurstow and the two others meet for their weekend festivities, and discover Hummil dead, but with the mark of terror on his face, and something peculiar about the pupils of his eyes. Ironically, one of the two expresses a sort of envy...

They question the servants and one of them makes reference to this same thing happening to natives "when the spell is laid on them". Only we know nothing of any spell, nor any reason Hummil should be the target of such a spell.

Finally, Spurstow takes some photos of Hummil's pupils, but destroys the images, leading us to believe that there was something recogizable, and too terrible for words, to be seen there.

So:

1) Why did this supernatural visitation happen to Hummil?

2) What was in his pupils?

I'll note also a minor flaw; Kipling uses as sort of collective omniscient narrative POV, but when Spurstow leaves, the POV shifts to Hummil, alone, noting an image of himself on the veranda--this is the first time we've ever been in Hummil's head, seeing thru his eyes, and it's kind of jarring; it's also the only time we see from Hummil's eyes. This is noticeable enough for to notice the reader, but it's minor. Maybe even it just me being overly picky...

Thoughts? Comments?

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



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 29 Sep 20 | 01:57PM by Sawfish.

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