Kipling's Captains Courageous and the Anglo-Indian in America


Hunter A (2019) Kipling's Captains Courageous and the Anglo-Indian in America. English Literature in Transition, 62 (1), pp. 3-27.

First paragraph: Writing in 1926, Thomas Beer argued that the "thread of imperial thinking" in Rudyard Kipling's work had in large measure supplied the moral and intellectual justification for the Spanish-American War. Later commentators have not shied away from Beer’s extravagance. According to Christopher Hitchens, Kipling acted as "John the Baptist" to the age of American imperialism, persuading his fellow Anglo-Saxons of their racial birthright by "inculcat[ing] the idea of empire in the American mind." More recently, Patrick Brantlinger has turned to Kipling in an effort to parse the deep grammar of America’s "Second Expeditionary Era," which is to say its recent and ongoing military interventions in the Middle East. Surveying the uses and abuses of "The White Man's Burden" over more than a century of U.S. foreign policy, Brantlinger hears its echo after 2001 in the battle-cries of Republican hawks and among neoconservative apologists for "America's new global empire." Judith Plotz, meanwhile, argues that if Kipling’s purpose a century ago was to convince the U.S. of its "world-historical destiny," the function of his writing a hundred years later has been "relegitimizing imperialism" for the post-9/11 era.

Rudyard Kipling; English Literature; American literature; transatlantic literature; travel writing; Captains Courageous; William James

English Literature in Transition: Volume 62, Issue 1

Publication date01/01/2019
Date accepted by journal21/12/2017
PublisherELT Press
Publisher URL