This introductory chapter explains the coverage of this book, which focuses on Kipling’s literary craftsmanship to explain both the sophistication of some of his fiction, and how other work attempted to serve his political aims. Kipling’s fiction can be divided into two separate blocks, which the book terms ‘authoritarian’ and ‘complex’: the first is coercive and strongly affiliated to his imperial beliefs, the second is more elusive and aesthetically sophisticated. This perspective is twinned with a detailed attention to changes in Kipling’s readership and location to produce a newly coherent account of his career until 1901 and the publication of his masterpiece Kim.
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