Rudyard Kipling's Uncollected Speeches:
A Second Book of Words
Thomas Pinney, Editor

A Book of Words, Kipling’s own selection of his speeches published in 1928, reflects a variety of topics and audiences. He spoke to schoolboys about literature, to Brazilians about “the spirit of the Latin,” to the Royal Geographical Society about travel, to navy men about sailors, to ship owners about shipping, to university students about independence. The list goes on, revealing interests and activities far more various than most men of letters would ever think of undertaking. Before the end of his life Kipling added a few more speeches to the version of the book that appeared, posthumously, in the splendid Sussex Edition of his collected works. Even so, many of his speeches have remained uncollected and virtually unknown.

A Second Book of Words collects what Kipling left uncollected. The speeches in this new book date from 1884 to 1935. We see Kipling at different moments before different audiences. We hear how he talked to his Sussex neighbors, or how he addressed a parliamentary committee, or a South African election meeting, or a club of London doctors, or his fellow honorary degree recipients at Cambridge. The more substantial, formal speeches are equally various, marked by Kipling’s mastery of language, a few passing over into a violent extravagance of feeling—the attack on the Liberal government in the speech of 16 May 1914 or the speech on war aims of 15 February 1918. Usually, however, the tone is urbane, the artistic aim to instruct through delight. Kipling knew that the maker of speeches and the poet were subject to the same law: “Unless they please they are not heard at all.”

A Second Book of Words adds another forty-eight speeches to the thirty-eight that Kipling chose to make public, printing all the known uncollected speeches—long or short, carefully meditated or spontaneous, tendentious or diplomatic. Another twenty-five for which no text has so far been found are identified, as are the speeches that he is known to have written for members of the royal family.

Professor Pinney, editor of the six-volume The Letters of Rudyard Kipling (Palgrave Macmillan, 1990–2004), brings his extensive knowledge of Kipling’s life and writings to the volume with an informative introduction, headnotes to contextualize each speech, and a complete checklist of all the speeches. Altogether, the edition is a considerable contribution to Kipling’s canon and to an important but neglected area of the Kipling bibliography.

 

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$55.00   Cloth   160 pp.

2008    978-0-944318-24-9  Acid-Free Paper

No. 24 in the 1880-1920 British Authors Series

Also an E-Book from UPCC MUSE Editions Johns Hopkins University Press

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