By the time he was thirty, Rudyard Kipling was scaling the heights of literary fame with his Jungle Books and tales of India, but when he died in 1936, at seventy-one, he was widely ignored if not denigrated by the lions of literary fashion. By then he had lived long with contradiction.Both a devoted son and angry child, abandoned by his parents to guardians at the age of five; on the one hand a disciple of the aesthete Ruskin and on the other a philistine sahib; at once a gentle father and belligerent husband; a spokesman for empire but also the laureate of the common man — embodied an ambivalence he could not embrace. His status as an outsider set him at odds as much with the conflicting cultures of imperial India as with the coteries of literary London; yet he yearned to belong. Despite his fame, he was continually beset by self-doubt and driven by uncertain, oddly directed passions. A restless wanderer, he ultimately settled in Sussex, only to have his world tumble into ruins with the death of his son in World War I.
In this absorbing reinterpretation of Kipling and his work, biographer Harry Ricketts brings his subject vibrantly alive in a world that both inspired and betrayed his imaginative genius.
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