YMMV / Rudyard Kipling

  • 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'.
    • Kipling's poems themselves are subject to alternative interpretations, especially noticeable when they are read aloud. For example, The White Man's Burden can be read as either a paean to imperialism or an ironic deconstruction of it.
    • "If any question why we died // Tell them, because our fathers lied." Considering it was pressure from himself that got his son into the service for World War I (and subsequently killed) despite lack of fitness, this may be self-reflection and personal regret.
  • Fair for Its Day: "The White Man's Burden" was at least this. It may seem shallow and racist today (and it kinda is), but it does not advocate the cruel treatment many of the natives in Africa or Asia received, and urges imperialism to be treated as a humanitarian method of introducing them to English culture. It also treats European supremacy as being a historical accident rather than an inevitable result of intrinsic superiority (a theme running through much of his work), unlike many contemporaries. Also, by Kipling's day The British Empire was already a fact (and had passed its zenith, which he was well aware of). The question was not the right or wrong of establishing it but of what to do with it. While triumphalism was hardly missing, the point of With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility is also often present.
    • Similarly, "We and They" mocks xenophobia by making the "expositor" himself hilariously immature.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Some people thought that The Ballad of the Clampherdown was intended to be serious.
    • Most people miss the irony of "If—" (namely, that if you can do all those things, then you are goddamn Superman), the point being the hideous pressure placed on younger generations by their elders.
  • Older Than They Think: Used at the top power as a polemical tool (The King, In the Neolithic Age). Proto-troll culture (Stalky). Also, Kipling wrote sci-fi. And sketched the lines of the Steam Punk (The King).
    • He may have been the first writer to use the concept of the Tractor Beam. In "As Easy as ABC," when a woman tried to commit suicide to make a political point, the "flying loop" yanked the knife out of her hand.
    • The Junk and the Dhow — "But before, and before, and ever so long before..."
  • True Art: In the Neolithic Age elaborately mocked style flamewars.
    • Lighter and Softer: The Light that Failed:
      Nilghai: It’s a chromo,’ said he,—’a chromo-litholeo-margarine fake!
    • Executive Meddling: The Light that Failed, the same incident.
      Dick: I did him just as well as I knew how, making allowance for the slickness of oils. 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.
  • Values Dissonance: Kipling's frank imperialism may grate on some modern readers. Also, "The Female of the Species" praises women in its way, but on a close read stands in opposition to female suffrage and women holding office (the Edwardian equivalent of that old joke about how "we can't elect a female president because she might have her finger on the big red button at that time of the month").
  • Values Resonance: A Code of Morals was about the heliograph, but its principles are even stronger applied to the modern internet.