Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Kipling-Alexander

So, I'm reading a biography on Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king who conquered most of Asia by the time he was like 30 or something. So-so book, but a fascinating story. Alexander seems to be regarded as a military and political genius. He was also a ruthless megalomaniac, who believed himself to be descended from gods... and maybe he was... but this posturing made me recall a wonderful story by Rudyard Kipling, entitld, "The Man Who Would Be King." You may be familiar with the movie version, a '70s flick that stars an in-his-prime Sean Connery in the title role. In the story, Connery uses his assocation with the FreeMasons to ligitimitize a link between himself and "Sandra" (as the natives call him) or Alexander, who had once conquered the land Connery is now marauding in. It's a great movie, and the story by Kipling is also great. You can find it here for free download from the Guttenberg Book Project.

Kipling is a great storyteller, and being able to write like him is one of the reasons I wanted to be a writer. Here's a line from the story discussing fake foreign correspondents making threats of blackmail on local politicos in India:

“They do not understand that nobody cares a straw for the internal administration of Native States so long as oppression and crime are kept within decent limits, and the ruler is not drugged, drunk, or diseased from one end of the year to the other.”

That gives you some idea of the style and gist of the story. It's kind of like a Heart of Darkness (by Conrad) type piece, which of course is the story that Apocolyspe Now is based on. Anyway, it's a great tale of adventure told in a humorous fashion, but also a bit of a morality tale. Yes, DoktorDee, I think it's got a lot of the elements of great mythology embedded within. There's also a couple great paragraphs discussing the lives of both loafers and journalists-two of my favorite classes of people.

Carry on,

Ralph

1 comment:

DocTorDee said...

Kipling also wrote "Kim," which I enjoyed very much in college. He also wrote "The Jungle Book," which most people know from Disney.

The "Man Who Would Be King" is an excellent movie with Sean Connery AND Michael Caine. I won't spoil the ending, but after watching it you'll understand the fate of the white man in the Arab world over these many centuries.

DDDDDDDDDDd