Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) is an English writer and Nobel prize winner, born in India. These days Kipling is perhaps best known as the creator of Mowgli, star of The Jungle Book, though he wrote many other stories.Many of Kipling's works, including The Jungle Book, are set in British India, and popularised most of the associated tropes. His other works include some early Science Fiction, while his literary style, particularly indirect exposition, was a significant influence on Campbell, Bertolt Brecht and Robert A. Heinlein.Kipling's stories include:
The Just So Stories, tales written for his children based on Eastern and African myths and folktales.
"The White Man's Burden"
"If—" ("If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you" — one of his most famous poems, much quoted. A portion of the poem can be seen by players entering Centre Court at Wimbledon.)
He lost a son in World War One and was responsible for choosing two of the common phrases associated with Remembrance in the UK: "Their Name Liveth For Evermore" and "Known Unto God" (on the graves of Unknown Soldiers). And... referred to it in Double Entendre of all ways:
If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.
— Epitaphs of the War, "Common Form"
Poems from Kipling, sometimes set to music, are popular references in any military fiction or Sci-Fi; the fans of the latter have a tradition of using Kipling's poems as 'Found Filk', especially Leslie Fish and Joe Bethancourt, who released an album (Our Fathers of Old) of Kipling derived or influenced songs.
Alternate Character Interpretation: A common trick of Kipling's was to follow up a short story with a poem looking at it from the point of view of a secondary character or villain. The results can be startlingly different — compare 'The Knife and the Naked Chalk' to 'The Song of the Men's Side'.
Is the torrent in spate? He must ford it or swim. Has the rain wrecked the road? He must climb by the cliff. Does the tempest cry halt? What are tempests to him? The service admits not a "but" or and "if." While the breath's in his mouth, he must bear without fail, In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail.
Creator Breakdown: Kipling was an ardent imperialist. Then his only son died in World War One, after dad had pulled some strings to get him into the service when medical conditions might otherwise have kept him out. His "Epitaphs of War" afterwards were extremely bitter about the nature of the conflict, including the famous "our fathers lied" segment.
Culture Clash: Several of his short stories are jokes about this.
Defictionalization: Some of the dialect of the British Army was actually made up by Kipling. Originally it was a device to give the atmosphere of how soldiers talked without using the words soldiers actually used. In World War I a lot of boys entered the army brought up on Kipling and imported the dialect they thought was "soldierly".
Gentlemen Rankers: The poem "Gentlemen-Rankers" (arguably the trope namer, almost certainly the source of the term's widespread recognition) is a lament written from the perspective of a gentleman-ranker in India, detailing his feelings of detachment and despair.
Locked Out of the Loop: "Marklake Witches" plays with the trope by having it narrated by the character who's locked out of the loop — and who, at the close of the story, still hasn't realised there's a secret being kept from her, let alone learned what it is. Recognising that her various moments of bemusement are connected, and figuring out the nature of the connection, is left as an exercise for the reader, and if achieved alters the tone of the story significantly.
Not So Different: Zig-zagged. Sometimes he described Europeans as just another tribe, sometimes as superior. Perhaps the summation was that he in fact thought Europeans were another tribe (and thus shouldn't make too much heavy weather) but that, by chance they happened to be a tribe that had a lot to teach other tribes. Though better off not falling into narcissism out of this.
Also Kipling was a good character writer and had a great fascination for how other people lived. His characters seem like real people that happen to be following the customs of their respective tribe/caste/whatever and not merely extensions of stereotypes.
The Roman Centurion's Song is about a Roman Centurion pleading not to be sent home to Rome, as he has lived among the 'primitives' of Britain so long that he has gone native. Kipling was making the obvious comparison of how many British soldiers felt after living in India, and pointing out that once upon a time it was the Britons that were the subject of colonial ambitions by a 'more civilised' power and were viewed as savages by their colonial masters.
Obstructive Bureaucrat: Kipling poured over these enough of acid to dissolve a battleship or two. From Pagett, M.P. to Mesopotamia and Stellenbosh to The Lesson:
And horses have four legs, and men have two legs, and two into four goes twice,
And nothing over except our lesson—and very cheap at the price.
P.O.V. Sequel: Several, including The Pirates in England vs. A Pict Song.
Pragmatic Hero / Pragmatic Villainy : Depending on how you look at it. His idea of Imperialism was not so much to change local culture but to competently do mundane chores like economic development, policing and so on. Chesterton in Heretics noted that the key to understanding him is to remember that he romanticized discipline and competence.
The Raj: The setting for most of his works. Kipling is largely responsible for spreading awareness of The Raj as a literary setting outside the former British Empire, and popularising it within the Empire.
Rated M for Manly: His poem simply entitled "If—" is about as good a summary as you can get for what it takes to be a virtuous and well-adjusted manly man. Also a good account of what it takes to be a Knight In Shining Armour in the modern world.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Invoked in Ballad of East and West when a British subaltern surrounded by Pathans warns the Pathan chieftain that his tribe will be ravaged by the British Army if he is killed.
In "The Grave of the One Hundred Head", the men of the First Shikari build a tomb for their dead Lieutenant from the skulls of all the men in the village his killer came from.
Dick: Then the art-manager of that abandoned paper said that his subscribers wouldn’t like it. It was brutal and coarse and violent,—man being naturally gentle when he’s fighting for his life. They wanted something more restful, with a little more colour. I could have said a good deal, but you might as well talk to a sheep as an art-manager.
True Companions: The Galley-Slave is about the brotherhood between a crew of galley slaves.
To the bench that broke their manhood, they shall lash themselves and die.
You Are a Credit to Your Race: Sort of. Kipling while regarding Europeans(or at least British) as made to rule, admired colonial soldiers, railray workers, mailmen and other such blue collar people. They were, like ordinary whites in similar jobs, the ones that he believed really kept The Empire together. And most important of all, they were colorful and romantic.