Author Spotlight: An empire of glass: Cracks in the foundations of Kipling's India
Posted by Huddersfield Press on 2020-05-18
Rudyard Kipling’s Kim is a novel that attempts to reconcile Kipling’s love for India and his knowledge that his presence was undesired. He fabricates an idealised fantasy of colonial India—one that presented British rule as solid and unshakeable—but this empire of stone is an illusion and its fragility haunts the pages of the novel. This article pulls apart one of the threads that runs throughout the novel: the Great Game. It studies the game itself, its players and its ambitions and ultimately suggests that the Game manifests the very anxieties that Kipling’s attempts to hide. Using Homi K. Bhabha’s concepts of ambivalence and mimicry, as well as Edward Said’s understanding of the significance of knowing, this article examines what lurks behind Kipling’s fantasy. Kim betrays the fact that the British did not build an empire of stone, but one of glass, and that the hold they had over India was in fact incredibly tenuous.
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