Insupportable

John Bayley

  • A Choice of Kipling’s Prose by Craig Raine
    Faber, 448 pp, £12.50, January 1987, ISBN 0 571 13735 0
  • Kipling’s Kingdom: His Best Indian Stories by Charles Allen
    Joseph, 288 pp, £14.95, January 1987, ISBN 0 7181 2570 3

Charlie Chaplin was not hopeful when the talkies arrived in Hollywood. ‘It would mean giving up my tramp character entirely. Some people suggested that the tramp might talk. This was unthinkable.’ In his introduction, probably the most searching piece of Kipling criticism to date, Craig Raine quotes Chaplin’s words, and his further comment that the ‘matrix’ out of which the tramp was born was ‘as mute as the rags he wore’.

Not any more it isn’t. Samuel Beckett’s tramps are highly conversable persons, whose mode of speech, moreover, does not give the impression that their creator is bending over backwards to find and to give them an authentic voice. Chaplin’s typically rather show-off utterances indicate, not only that he has made himself as cultivated and articulate as any intellectual, but that he is highly conscious of the difference between himself and the creation that he is imitating – the lovably silent little tramp. Perhaps that is why the tramp act has not worn too well. Today an author like Beckett does not seem to distance himself, unconsciously, from the idiolect of his creations, or to assume their difference from himself. Beckett no doubt owes this to Joyce, and to the ‘scrupulous meanness’ whereby the author of Dubliners identifies with the men and women he wrote about. But he probably owes a great deal also to Kipling, who was as popular in Ireland as everywhere else, and not just in the Ascendancy circles in which Beckett grew up. Elizabeth Bowen records that when her house was temporarily taken over in 1922 by the young soldiers of the IRA they avidly seized from the shelves the thin scarlet Kipling volumes and seemed to find themselves and their aspirations given substance and colour in what he wrote. They responded in a way that none of them would have responded to the dialogue, say, of Synge – however authentically that dialogue was made up.

Craig Raine suggests that Kipling always had a marvellous ear for real speech, just as he had a totally compelling eye for detail. While conceding that the early soldier tales can be dismally inauthentic in terms of voice and idiom, he feels that Kipling went on to achieve mastery over dialect, just as he did over the unobtrusive formal devices of the short story. I am inclined to doubt this. Kipling’s genius, or ‘daemon’ as he called it, was certainly many-voiced like that of Dickens: but in both writers these voices seem to come from inside things and people, rather than giving an accurate imitation of acoustic flavour. No one ever spoke like Mrs Gamp, which is why Mrs Gamp speaks so authoritatively for something inside so many people. Kipling is the same. Ortheris and Mulvaney, like Parnesius the Roman centurion in Puck of Pook’s Hill, speak no language: which is why their casual informed references, their offhand expertise, their sententiousness and sentiment, blend together in ways which so many people of the same sort recognise and even begin internally to adopt. Hemingway learnt from the process and made his own on a more tyrannical and limited pattern. In The Valley of Bones and The Soldier’s Art Anthony Powell’s ineffectual Welsh captain also organises his internal speech consciousness on a Kipling model.

But, as Raine emphasises, the area Kipling covers is incredibly wide. It is actually a great deal wider than that of Dickens, who, in spite of the great mass of his novels, compared with Kipling’s production of short stories, is by contrast comparatively narrow, even obsessed. In ‘extending the literary franchise to the inarticulate’, as Raine says, so that ‘the mute are given a say in things,’ Kipling does not, of course, stop short at human beings. Henry James, who admired – indeed adored – him, deprecated this process nonetheless, and in a famous comment once observed that he had abandoned humans for horses, dogs, locomotives and parts of ships. Kipling did give a voice of sorts to all these, and by no means with complete success, as is shown by the fact that none of the tales involved appear in Raine’s judicious selection among his own favourites. And yet James’s stricture is not really perceptive or justified. For although as direct narrators his creatures and objects may seem embarrassingly pat and simplistic, Kipling has an extraordinary power of making whole societies, cultures and artefacts articulate, so that – as in ‘Mrs Bathurst’, one of his most powerful stories – the muddle, stress, strain, hope, joy and confusion of a worldwide ‘United Services’ society seem to find their appropriately multiple tongues. No single narrator sounds quite right in his stories, but the combined hubbub of voices – voices that were once mute – forms a new and indescribably vivid pentecost.

Raine has a poet’s eye for all this detail, for what it vouchsafes and what it implies. He notes‘the sticky pull of slow-rending oilskin’, associated with Kim’s loving care of his Great Game equipment; and the way in which Mulvaney, in ‘Love-o’-Women’, hesitates for a second before attempting an officer’s name when relating how Dr Lowndes ‘ran away with Major – Major Van Dyce’s lady that year’. That Kipling was well aware of the dangers of his own virtuosity in this direction is shown, I think, by ‘The Finest Story in the World’, which can be read either as a straight account of Kipling’s formula for the story proclaimed by the title, or as a subtle parody of that story and its pretensions. Perhaps a bit of both is involved – not an uncommon state of affairs with Kipling. He takes seriously the idea (which Henry James would again have metaphysically disputed) that first-hand experience alone produces absolute authenticity. What does a ship sinking in a calm sea look like? Charlie Mears, the callow bank clerk with third-rate literary tastes, knows with complete authority from his previous incarnation as a Greek galley slave. The water topping the deck ‘looked just like a banjo-string drawn tight, and it seemed to stay there for years.’ The narrator of the story ‘had my reasons’ for asking the question, for a friend of his had once seen the same thing and described it as looking ‘like a silver wire laid down along the bulwarks’ which he ‘thought was never going to break’. The man ‘who had nearly paid with his life for this little bit of useless information’, and whom the journalist-narrator had gone half-way round the world to interview, was, naturally enough, Kipling himself. In Something of Myself he remarks that he once had the good fortune to see a coal hulk sinking in a New England harbour. With no danger to himself, though.

All this is both finicky and portentous, a literary mystique of no real importance, as Kipling must have known perfectly well. A good writer soaks in reality every way, with a sort of Shakespearian lack of differentiation. Yet at the same time it is a mystique which lies close to the heart of Kipling’s method, and gives it that unique reality/unreality blend which is so hypnotically effective. Kipling’s method makes details of living larger than life, and memorable for that reason, but at the same time its emphasis substitutes something else for life, something that is ‘pure literature’ perhaps, in the sense Delacroix intended when he told an inquirer that an object on his canvas was ‘just painting’. Tolstoy and Hardy were artists who ‘noticed such things’ – things like the banjo-string or silver wire along the sinking ship’s deck – but used them unobtrusively as part of a whole: whereas in Kipling they shoal out in a glittering mass of lifemanship from a thousand narrators who might otherwise be ‘mute’. He is very definitely one of those great writers who make their readers, however dumb and inarticulate, feel like writers too. Every child or adult notices the way in which surface tension builds up at the rim of a teacup, but Kipling’s way with it makes the phenomenon seem suddenly exciting as well as familiar, and as if especially ‘true’.

‘The Finest Story in the World’ would thus be a mixture of sober authority and blatant fabrication, as Kipling himself was well aware, and hints at in the tale. In his occasional moments of total recall, as a Viking or a galley slave, Charlie Mears not only produces these details of pure ‘reality’, but others that are totally bogus though told with such conviction that the ‘I’ of the story is equally awed by them. One such is that when a galley slave dies on the lowest deck his body is chopped up into little pieces and fed out through the oar-holes. This goes with an absolutely authentic detail about the light, or lack of it, down there (‘Can’t you imagine the sunlight just squeezing through between the handle and the hole and wobbling about as the ship moves?’), and the rich mixture of true and false stuns the reader into the same fascinated acquiescence. Charlie Mears’s unconscious technique is exactly the same as Kipling’s own highly conscious one in Puck of Pook’s Hill and the other stories in which a narrator out of the past gets a ‘voice’ to tell exactly what happened to him. In this way we devour without protest such improbable ‘facts’ as that a war galley can be capsized by a Roman catapult shooting a bag of loose stones into the belly of the sail; or that a Norman at the fireside sits with one hand on his chin, while a Saxon rests his head in both hands. In one of the earlier Indian stories, ‘The Return of Imray’, we accept in the same way that a corpse has been lodged for a month or more in the ‘ceiling-cloth’ above an Indian living-room. Since most of us have no idea what a ceiling-cloth is, the information is all the easier to swallow. As Kipling says in a poem about a wonderful Oriental narrator, ‘the cool and perspicuous eye overbore unbelieving.’

Not that Kipling’s eye is ever at all cool and perspicuous: but he forced it to appear so, and in the later stories he forces it more and more. One of the features of all his stories, and the most effective, is our growing sense of the strongest feelings kept well under by the outbursts and silences – equally meticulously contrived – of the method. That is why ‘Mary Postgate’ is such a masterpiece, for there is no doubt that Kipling hates in that story every bit as virulently as his heroine, but at the same time directs his art to showing why she hates, and what a strange deluded form that hatred takes. No wonder his nephew by marriage, Oliver Baldwin, called it ‘the wickedest story in the world’, an important testimony to the strange nature of Kipling’s skill, and that of his daemon. One can see why Baldwin said it. It is a great mistake, which critics who have the right principles, yet who love Kipling’s work, are apt to make today, to emphasise his artistry and with it his humanitarianism, as if both redeemed him in some sense.

Time that with this strange excuse
Pardoned Kipling and his views ...

Auden’s notion that artists with deplorable views, like Yeats, Claudel and Kipling, should be let off because time

Worships language and forgives
Everyone by whom it lives

does not really do justice to the nature of literary genius, and that of Kipling in particular. We have to swallow him whole if he is really going to work on us, not pick and choose in accordance with our moral programming. The only defect in Raine’s introductory essay is his tendency to sidestep this aspect of Kipling. Although he includes ‘Mary Postgate’, he has little to say about it, which is all the odder given his acute comments on the other stories, and the remarkable technical problem posed by this bland and terrifying tale.

Many critics have commented on this, in particular Norman Page in two essays: ‘What happens in “Mary Postgate” ’ and ‘The Nationality of the Airman in “Mary Postgate” ’. After weighing up the evidence with scrupulous care Page concludes, and I would agree with him, that Mary’s encounter with the wounded German airman, and her subsequent treatment of him, is pure delusion. Kipling was an expert on that subject, probably from personal experience. In an early thriller called ‘At the End of the Passage’, which is about officials under stress in an Indian heatwave, one of them finds himself sitting at the table as he enters his house, and the vision gets up and departs hastily. Visions have a special and decidedly creepy status in the stories, and seem as natural as the day, but all the same they can make the reader’s spine tingle. The Sikh trooper in ‘A Sahibs’ War’, one of Kipling’s most powerful and disturbing tales, sees the ghost of his dead captain, murdered by the Boers, coming nearer, ‘riding, as it were, upon my eyes’. Ghosts in Kipling are tokens and portents of love and hate.

Mary Postgate, the lady’s companion, has loved the graceless Wynn, her employer’s nephew, although hardly aware that she has done so, for ‘it doesn’t do to dwell on such things.’ She lifts ‘her lean arms’ towards his plane as it flies over the house, and after he is killed on a training flight she arranges to burn all his childhood possessions (a long, long list, as pathetic as it is compulsive to read) in the incinerator at the bottom of the garden. It is there she has the experience of finding the wounded German airman, presumably fallen from his plane. Mary’s subsequent behaviour seems to her eminently right and natural, as natural as her instinct to cherish Wynn had been, and she does not see, although the story does, that Wynn had been training to do just what the German may have done. Her behaviour gives her undoubted sexual satisfaction, virtually an orgasm. Mary has seen a little girl killed, probably as a result of an accident, and has persuaded herself it was done by a German bomb: zeppelins and single aeroplanes were beginning to drop bombs in this way at the time the story was written. To Mary it seems ‘unbelievable ... by its very monstrosity’, and the compensation fantasy she builds up is almost as unbelievable. The story has a special reference today, for we have grown so accustomed to terrorism that it has come to seem like industrial action or accident, committed and received in the same impersonal spirit.

Suppose it was all imaginary after all? It seems possible that Kipling was thinking of The Turn of the Screw, and Henry James’s leaving to the reader the question of whether the governess has seen the ghosts or imagined them. But what is entirely bloodless and hypothetical in James becomes in Kipling an experience of the most compelling kind. It exactly suits his real/unreal effects and technique. More important, it embodies a truth in which he believed deeply: that one cannot love without hating, and perhaps vice versa. Kipling must be one of the very few men of literary or artistic genius who really loved his own children, loved them deeply and tenderly, in fact was besotted with them – ‘a sugar daddy’, as Raine rather incongruously puts it. To love children is possibly not so common as we like to think, but Kipling certainly did so, whether because of his own deprived childhood – as glimpsed in “Baa Baa, Black Sheep’ – or just by temperament and inclination. Fate retaliated with the death in childhood of one of his daughters, and by killing his son in the First World War. Fate also saw to it that his capacity for hatred was as great as that for love: a hatred which, like Mary Postgate’s, found its chief expression inside himself, and in his work.

The case of Dickens, who loved not his own children but those his novels invented, again affords an instructive contrast. Kipling in his stories is that much more compulsive, disconcertingly so. Useless to pretend that he is taking a ‘detached’ view of Mary Postgate, however much his prose strives to give that effect, strives with wonderful and visible success. Ironic, too, that the idea of complete authenticity, sketched as an artistic credo in ‘The Finest Story in the World’, finds its resolution in the later story in the fact that the reader has no means of knowing whether the things that Mary sees and does are literally true or all in her head. It is in a sense the apotheosis of Kipling’s method. Nor does it help to decide, as Norman Page did, what was Kipling’s intention. It is clear only that we must take the story as we find it.

It is here that Raine, for all his acuteness, is perhaps a little too confident that he has divined exactly what is going on in the more famously complex and obscure stories. Of the notorious ‘Mrs Bathurst’ he says: ‘though the rambling narration has been denounced by both Kingsley Amis and Angus Wilson, the story is as precise as a Swiss watch. Everything fits, but the reader has to wind it up.’ I doubt if the metaphor is well chosen. Such a story is more like a Post-Impressionist painting, for which we have to get our eye in and learn to ‘see’. But Kipling has a diversity of effects, as of narrators and places, and a story like ‘Dayspring Mishandled’ is strewn with clues and cryptograms, although they may not add up in the end to more than the first and definitively gripping impression. It is possible that Kipling took such things more lightly than his critics. He could certainly be extraordinarily careless, as when, in the flawed but fascinating story ‘Wireless’, he himself misquotes ‘The Eve of St Agnes’ (‘moonlight’ instead of ‘moonshine’), which a consumptive young chemist is trying to ‘write’ under the influence of Marconi waves; and he confuses the Cook’s and the Wife of Bath’s Tales à propos of his story ‘The Wish House’. This may go with his bold and brilliant use of what may be termed the highly suggestive impossibility – the airman in ‘Mary Postgate’ and the two tramps in ‘Mrs Bathurst’ – when he dares the reader not to swallow the illusion produced and to accept it as reality.

What is certain is that his best stories, like all really good short stories, have an inner dimension of meaning more intangible and elemental than what they seem on the surface to be about. ‘At the End of the Passage’ has the presentation of a Poe-type melodrama, with all the trimmings, including ‘things’ in a dead man’s eye, but it is in fact a study of insomnia and pressure of work which goes to a much more disquieting depth. On the verge of breakdown as a young man in India, Kipling had a phrase about ‘the night getting into his head’, and it certainly gets into some of these early stories. Their more sensational effects, like their cocksure, rather caddish brilliance, are by contrast reassuring and comforting in a literary way. The same is true of ‘The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes’, a nightmare story about an Indian village of the dead, whose true dimension is lack of meaning, the unsaving emptiness that lies just under all we do, and which in India can be very close to the surface. Kipling knew all about it, but didn’t accept it philosophically. He hated it.

Arguably the love and hate which move, among other things, in the depths of these stories help to make them more impressive than even Heart of Darkness, which, like most of Conrad’s writing, has a much more respectable status in the eyes of critics and intellectuals. Conrad, after all, is more straightforwardly an intellectual himself, and lacks Kipling’s powers of multiple identification with people and their feelings. The nemesis of Imperial pretension and greed is more disquietingly shown in an adventure story like ‘The Man who would be King’ than it is in Conrad’s anti-Imperialist fables, because Kipling is on the side of Empire, not safely against it. But at the end of ‘The Man who would be King’ an emblem of Empire, the crown of gold and turquoise that Carnehan has brought back from Kafiristan, vanishes mysteriously. ‘Do you happen to know if he had anything upon him by any chance when he died?’ the narrator asks the superintendent of the pauper hospital. ‘Not to my knowledge’ is the reply. Perhaps the crown, too, was a delusion, like Mary Postgate’s, but Kipling is not one to let on about such things, or to nudge us with symbols.

When he does, as at the end of ‘The Gardener’, the effect is proportionately blank. In that story Kipling gets completely inside the mind and idiom of the middle-class woman who had an illegitimate son and passed him off as her nephew, passed the whole thing off even to herself. After the war, in which he is killed, she visits the Flanders cemetery, still totally enclosed in the habit of her lie. Lost in a wilderness of graves and crosses, she explains to a gardener that she is looking for her nephew’s grave, and he says: ‘I will show you where your son lies.’ The story gains at every re-reading, like all Kipling’s best, for Helen Turrell does not grasp the point at all, but after turning back ‘for a last look’ – a perfect idiomatic touch – when she leaves the cemetery, she sees the man again, ‘bending over his young plants’, and goes away, ‘supposing him to be the gardener’.

The story emphasises, as Kipling’s ‘loud reticence’ sometimes does, the gap that eventually has to be recognised between the character or narrator whose idiom and being penetrate the tale with high voltage and the reader who gets the shock, but also has to understand. At the end of ‘The Gardener’ the two part company too abruptly. We get the point, and in so doing no longer so much feel with the heroine as start to sum her up. The capacity to move us, overwhelming in the love and loss themes of ‘A Sahibs’ War’, ‘Baa Baa, Black Sheep’ and ‘Mary Postgate’, is neutralised by too great visibility. As Raine observes in another context, we can see the electrodes in the author’s hands. That is a good metaphor. The puzzle nature of the later stories may well be due to Kipling’s using obscurity as deliberate antidote to his earlier virtuosity, and setting himself to become cryptic instead of brash. He never forsook the use of melodrama to contrast with and reveal the story’s deeper perspective. The same device from ‘The End of the Passage’, ‘The Strange Ride’ and ‘The Phantom Rickshaw’ (the last two were among his first printed stories) appears in the gruesome tableau at the end of ‘Mrs Bathurst’ of the two tramps in the teak forest, dead and blackened by lightning, and in the black gloves deliberately donned by Manallace at the end of ‘Dayspring Mishandled’. Henry James and Kipling, the two most distinguished short-story virtuosos of their time, both had their ways of combining the mysterious and the melodramatic, a rare combination, for melodrama usually precludes real mystery. ‘The Beast in the Jungle’ has a lot in common with ‘Dayspring Mishandled’, and Henry James’s later stories increasingly resemble Kipling’s.

They play the same tricks for the same reasons. In The Ambassadors we never discover just what was manufactured at Woollett. In ‘Mrs Bathurst’ the relation between the heroine, whom we never see except on a newsreel, and the petty officer who deserts and dies because of her, remains inpenetrably obscure. The story is a perfect artistic embodiment of unreliable narrators and partial views scattered Empire-wide, and also of the fact that most things in life never ‘come out’. Raine confidently asserts that Vickery, the petty officer, is a bigamist, and he may well be right: but the story ensures that there is no knowing and that ‘the rest is silence.’ Vickery himself quotes that, as ‘Love-o’-Women’, in the story of that name, quotes, via Mulvaney’s accent, from Antony and Cleopatra – two touches of potential vulgarity which Kipling triumphantly gets away with. It seems wholly natural that the people to whom he gives a voice should use it to say unexpected things.

Raine, very ingeniously, suggests that Castorley, in ‘Dayspring Mishandled’, did actually marry ’Dal’s mother, who inexplicably loved him, and then abandoned her. Kipling buffs will raise their eyebrows at this, because it does seem to go against the text, instead of being one possibility among several. Kipling has great restraint where the theme of love is concerned, and his best later stories never collapse it into the banality of what actually occurred: that is why the idea of bigamy, or any other solution, deflates the cryptic artistry of ‘Mrs Bathurst’. The impression and the impact are what matter, as in the case of ‘Mary Postgate’. There seems no way in which one of the tramps found dead in the Rhodesian teak forest, ‘squattin’ down an’ looking up’ at the other, can be Mrs Bathurst herself, but once Kipling has put the idea into his reader’s head it will not go away. There is something touching and terrible in the concept, as there is in the image of the woman caught on the newsreel, ceaselessly walking up the platform and vanishing, ‘like a shadow jumpin’ over a candle’.

Kipling always liked symmetry, and ‘Dayspring Mishandled’, the tale of a revenge that came to nothing, and of hate compromised by love, pairs incongruously with that very inferior tale of revenge carried to the heights of farcicality, ‘The village that voted the Earth was flat’. In combining such work with his best pieces – slapstick comedy with subtle tragedy – Kipling showed an Elizabethan robustness. His care for such symmetric effects, often artfully concealed, as in the arrangement of stories in Limits and Renewals, has been demonstrated by the young doyen of Kipling studies, Harry Ricketts, who, like Mrs Bathurst herself, lives and works in New Zealand. Charles Allen, whose great-grandfather brought the 16-year-old Kipling out to Lahore to work on the Civil and Military Gazette, has made a good selection of the Indian stories, including one or two previously uncollected ones, and reminds us in his introduction how insufferable Kipling could be in his Indian days, as well as when he was at school. And later, too, no doubt. He was a highly emotional man, and his views and passions interacted. He would have been contemptuous of the care we take today in placating the sacred cow of racial sensibility. Raine piously observes that ‘there is his anti-Irish prejudice to consider,’ as if he ought to have known that there are communities and countries about whom nothing unfavourable must ever be said. Kipling cannot win here, for if it is pointed out that he loved the Irish, the Indians, the colonials – in fact, almost everyone (barring Boers and Germans) except most of the English themselves – the reply is that such love is merely a form of patronage.

Kipling’s racial ideas are an extension of his genius for love and hate, his conviction, to quote Geoffrey Hill, that ‘there is no bloodless myth will hold.’ He loathed Nazis and Boers for their racial wickedness as much as he loathed Bolsheviks for their doctrinaire cruelty, but he also thought that some nations had a responsibility to rule. That is abundantly clear in his Indian stories. Charles Allen quotes:

Some I gathered from my friends,
    And some I looted from my foes.
And some – all’s fish that heaven sends –
    Are histories of private woes.

Those private woes were not unimportant, and no doubt there were private joys too. Kipling got on extraordinarily well with the rank and file of the Indian Army, though seldom with the officers; and it seems unlikely that dark young beauties such as Bisesa of ‘Beyond the Pale’ and Ameera of ‘Without Benefit of Clergy’ were not at some stage intimate companions too. Although he took good care that his life, unlike a Goethe’s or a Byron’s, was never publicised, by himself or by others, it has a span of experience and development impressive in itself, both in terms of the times he lived with and the art he practised. He had the gift of ‘being made all things to all men’, as he says in his poem about St Paul, and finding all of them voices: but his life has another shape too, the one allegorised by his other hero, John Bunyan. At the end of her study of his work his most balanced critic, J.M.S. Tompkins, quotes a line of his which gets closer to the heart of the matter than most. ‘Our hearts, like muddy streams, cleanse themselves as they go forward.’

All very well, and yet there remains something about his personality, as opposed to his heart, which Carrington and Birkenhead, his two more or less official biographers, were very well aware of, as were his own loyal wife, sister and daughter, who spent so much time and trouble keeping it out of view. It was said of Madame de Stael that she had only one fault – she was insupportable. Kipling makes us squirm: not when he is relishing hatred and revenge, or maturing unliberal views, but when he is being breezy and open, genial and frank, when he seems to be being very much himself. His readers are right to prefer the Daemon, a stranger and more various animal altogether. Fifty years after his death, now that his work is out of copyright and can appear in different formats and a variety of house-styles, that Daemon may well come more and more into its own. Kipling has always been widely read, but his image – the image that his denigrators have loved to hate – has always been too much confined to those uniform scarlet volumes, with the elephant and the tantric swastikas on the cover. These may have put readers off, and are in any case not so easy to find – some of the short-story volumes have for years been unobtainable. Now Penguin are bringing them out in a uniform series, well edited and well produced, with intelligent introductions. Mrs Bathurst and Mary Postgate would be pleased.

The following books by Kipling were reissued by Penguin on 2 January:

Just So Stories for Little Children, edited and introduced by Peter Levi, 170 pp., £1.95, 0 14 043302 2
Debits and Credits, edited and introduced by Sandra Kemp, 314 pp., £2.95, 0 14 043285 X
Life’s Handicap, edited and introduced by P.N. Furbank, 320 pp., £2.95, 0 14 043279 5
Plain Tales from the Hills, edited by H.R. Woudhuysen, introduced by David Trotter, 295 pp., £2.50, 0 14 043287 6
The Jungle Books, edited and introduced by Daniel Karlin, 384 pp., £2.50, 0 14 043282 5
A Diversity of Creatures, edited and introduced by Paul Driver, 366 pp., £2.95, 0 14 043295 7
Puck of Pook’s Hill, edited and introduced by Sarah Wintle, 231 pp., £2.50, 0 14 043284 1
Something of Myself, edited by Robert Hampson, introduced by Richard Holmes, 220 pp., £3.95, 0 14 043308 2
Traffics and Discoveries, edited and introduced by Hermione Lee, 344 pp., £2.95, 0 14 043286 8

The following books were reissued by Oxford on 2 January in the ‘World’s Classics’ series:

Plain Tales from the Hills, edited and introduced by Andrew Rutherford, 279 pp., £2.50, 0 19 281652 7
The Man who would be King, and Other Stories, edited and introduced by Louis Cornell, 300 pp., £2.95, 0 19 281674 8
Life’s Handicap, edited and introduced by A.O.J. Cockshut, 324 pp., £2.95, 0 19 281671 3
The Day’s Work, edited and introduced by Thomas Pinney, 294 pp., £2.95, 0 19 281714 0
The Jungle Book, edited and introduced by W.W. Robson, 155 pp., £1.95, 0 19 281650 0
The Second Jungle Book, edited and introduced by W.W. Robson, 215 pp., £1.95, 0 19 281655 1
Stalky and Co, edited and introduced by Isabel Quigley, 325 pp., £2.95, 0 19 281660 8
Kim, edited and introduced by Alan Sandison, 306 pp., £2.95, 0 19 281651 9