The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #160996   Message #3822130
Posted By: robomatic
22-Nov-16 - 01:48 PM
Thread Name: Gunga Din. Racist or just of its time?
Subject: RE: Gunga Din. Racist or just of its time?
I have always liked the works and poems of Kipling. They preserve an intelligent and powerful, not to mention pungent, view of an era in place and time. And what would it be without the attitude. I recall in one of his short stories a jaundiced view of Russian perfidy very much of its time. I don't think he singled out any one particular race for praise or abuse, he gave his all to interpreting the world as he saw it, and the world was colorful and complex.
I do not believe the poem "Gunga-Din" was meant to be anti-racist. Gunga-Din didn't develop during the poem, the narrator did. He revealed himself of raising beyond his original perception to something approaching the author's perception.
In the U.S. we've had to deal with many works that were clever, interesting, beloved, and limited in perception to their time. Booth Tarkington, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and our beloved Mark Twain, who rose above the perceptions of his day, even his own, with a naked honesty and use of the 'N' Word. But to yield to the desire to bowdlerize the works in my mind is to rob ourselves of understanding that we are just as bound in our era as those authors were in theirs.

I don't recall any anti-semitism in Doyle's Sherlock Holmes books, but there was a background of it in his Professor Challenger stories. I still love 'em all.

Exra Pound, not so much.

We're always going to filter the works of art that we preserve from the past, and an awareness of our filters is not a bad thing.