Kipling and the Sea

December 6, 2020
Kipling and the Sea

KIPLING may be best known as a commentator on the BritishEmpire, but he was also a vivid observer and chronicler of the sea- and of ships and all who sailed in them. For him the sea was theglue which bound the British Empire together. To reach distantlands, you needed to sail. So Kipling wrote copiously about his ownvoyages - to India, across the Pacific and Atlantic, down to SouthAfrica and Australia - and about the voyages of others. Sailorswere particular heroes of his, as adventurers who braved every kindof element and danger in order to reach distant lands. In writingabout them, he was enthralled by the romance of the sea, touchingon everything from pirates to technical changes in ships. Hisoutput reflected his deep historical understanding, so he couldwrite equally about three sailors reminiscing about their shipwreckwith St Paul off Malta in 66ad and a ship on fire in the IndianOcean. He was also a great advocate of the navy. He wrote about itsexploits, customs, history and contemporary role in a variety ofdifferent forms.At all stages of his life Kipling peppered his many letters withobservations about the sea, encompassing his own voyages and hisother nautical interests. Edited and with a commentary by Kiplingexpert and author of the much praised Kipling Abroad, Kipling andthe Sea illuminates a side of Kipling's work that has for too longlanguished in the shadows.