Thursday, April 27, 2017

I'm a fan of Rudyard Kipling! (Read my blog "Kipling's Love of Lighthouses here.) His story, "The Disturber of Traffic" has a lighthouse theme. It's an peculiar tale, part tragedy and part comedy. It's very "Kiplingish."  He loved the sea and ships and lighthouses.

Below, Amazon describes the Kindle edition of the story, which is sold here


This British “poet of Empire” was born in Bombay, India, in 1865. He was sent to England for school, then re-joined his parents in India in l881, where he wrote for Anglo-Indian newspapers. From that time until his death in 1936, he traveled widely in India and then the world, covering the far-flung British Empire and writing almost continuously: poems (“Mandalay,” “If,” “Gunga Din”), children’s books (Kim, The Jungle Book), novels (Captains Courageous), and always, short stories. He glorified the idea of empire as “the white man’s burden.”

In l892, he married Caroline Balestier and they set off for an around-the-world honeymoon. Their bank failed while they were in Japan, so they made their way to Brattleboro, Vermont, where Balestier’s relatives lived. They stayed for four years. Then it was back to England, where Kipling’s popularity soared. In 1907, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first for an English writer. In the last year of his life, he wrote his autobiography, Something of Myself, which was published posthumously.

The Atlantic Monthly published Kipling’s short story “The Disturber of Traffic” in l891, a year before he came to Vermont, as he was gaining fame. It is classic Kipling: the narrator convinces a lighthouse keeper on the foggy southern English coast to let him spend the night “and help to scare the ships into mid-channel.” The keeper of the light passes the time by telling a story. After setting the scene—“The light-frame of the thousand lenses circled on its rollers and the compressed-air engine that drove it hummed like a bluebottle under a glass”—Kipling has the two men settle in, and the central story unfolds. It takes place many years before, when another keeper is assigned to an isolated lighthouse on the island of Flores, in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), where “those currents is never yet known to mortal man … They chop and they change, and they banks the tides fust on one shore and then on another, till your ship’s tore in two.”

Slowly, deliberately, Kipling describes the loneliness that plagues the keeper of this far outpost, his only companion a native who spends all his time in the water or “skipping about the beach along with the tigers at low tide, for he was most part a beast.” Kipling takes his time describing the keeper’s descent into madness, and the peculiar form that madness takes; he leaves the reader with the feeling that the story may well have been based in fact. It is presented here just as it originally appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, dialect and all.



You can find the story in PDF form on the web. Enjoy! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome your comments, photos, stories, etc.!