Empire of Analogies
Kipling, India and Ireland
Imprint: Cork University Press
300 Pages, 158 x 241 mm
- Published: February 2007
Starting from the analysis of the Irish characters in Kipling's Indian stories, this book shows that the representation of the British Empire was greatly indebted to analogies and comparisons made between colonies, and as such became the very site where the image of Empire was contested. It contrasts two different ways of making colonial analogies; "imperialist" and "nationalist." Kipling, as a young journalist, was keenly aware of the fact that Indian and Irish nationalists drew analogies between each other's colonial situation to make the case for self-government and British misrule, and his repeated emphasis on Irish participation in the Raj can be seen as a powerful "imperialist" counter-representation to these subversive analogies. With this framework in mind, this book traces how Kipling's representation of Empire changed over time as he moved away from India and also as the hegemony of British imperialism faltered toward the end of the nineteenth century. It argues that this change roughly corresponds with the transformation of Mulvaney: Kim is characteristically made voiceless as an Irish subject, who does not miss Ireland as home. Furthermore, the book shows how Kipling's new version of the white man's world, that is, of the Settler's Empire, is palimpsested onto Kim, which makes the novel radically different from his earlier representation of the Raj.
"Empire of Analogies" is primarily aimed at scholars and students who are interested in such topics as Rudyard Kipling, postcolonial literature and history, nineteenth-century Irish history and culture, British India, and the larger question of the British Empire. Scholars who are working on trans-colonial models of the British Empire, and/or the use of comparative models in postcolonial studies, would find this book particularly interesting.
"Empire of Analogies" has special relevance to courses in Colonial/Postcolonial literature and Victorian Studies, dealing with topics such as empire and literature, British India, nineteenth Irish history and diaspora, the Boer War, the Settler colonies, and transcolonialsm/nationalism. Many of these courses list Rudyard Kipling's "Kim" as one of the main texts.
Within the field of Kipling studies, Empire of Analogies affirms its value by elucidating the logic and method that informs Kipling's insistent use of Irish elements, especially in the work of his earlier career. Through its numerous excursions into duly historicized colonial cultural studies, the book also enables a more subtle understanding of Kipling's representativeness, a sense that his work, which does articulate imperial dogma and dream, also registers with appreciable sensitivity the changing conditions of his world and his times. Although Nagai's study seems to strain in certain moments to maintain its commitment to its Irish component Cork University Press exclusively publishes work in the field of Irish studies Ireland and Irishness emerge convincingly as the key elements in the analogical representation of empire, by Kipling and by his contemporaries. ~Don Randall, Interventions
I learned much from Empire of Analogies, and I hope it inspires further research into the analogies that shaped nineteenth- and twentieth-century debates around empire and sovereignty. Nagai's chapters on South Africa, and her occasional references to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, suggest this is a topic where more work is needed. Nagai shows that there is much to say about Kipling beyond Kim, though her regular return to Kim suggests that there isnâ€™t much to say without it. ~Thomas McLean, Australasian J of Victorian Studies
Given the extensive literature on these Irish - Indian connections, it is brave of Kaori Nagai to contribute another volume to the canon. But, though short, this is a very useful book. In addition to summarizing and critiquing the work of predecessors, the author adds some significant new material. She attempts to position Kipling's work in environmental and climatic contexts; to analyse his use of dialect in the construction of ethnicity and his characters' identities and class affiliations; and, particularly usefully, she connects Kipling's Kim and other Irish characters to his experience of South Africa during and after the Anglo-Boer War. Her survey creates a sort of quadripartite relationship of England, Ireland, India and South Africa, with side glances at Canada and the other dominions of white settlement. Her examination of Queen Victoria's final visit to Ireland in 1900 (so illustrative of the combination of 'loyalty' and opposition-Maud Gonne labelled her the 'famine Queen') is also stimulating. In brief, this book offers an excellent introduction to this whole question as well as adding a number of genuinely fresh insights. ~John M. MacKenzie, The Roundtable