A Kipling re-read I almost forgot…

So thoroughly had he come to know the place of his dreams that even waking he accepted it as a real country, and made a rough sketch of it.

In a previous post, I had mentioned that Rudyard Kipling’s short story “The Mother Hive” was my favorite Kipling short story that I had read so far.   I may have spoken too soon as I had somehow forgotten about his fantastic story “The Brushwood Boy”.  I read this one a few years ago for my former book club’s short story month (we always did this in July) and decided to read it again this weekend.

How I could have forgotten about this, I don’t know, but at least it was only temporary!  I think what makes this story so great is that Kipling turns conventional wisdom upside down and makes it work.  George (Georgie when he’s young) Cottar, though not lazy, does not strive after success; however, in education, the military, and life in general, “success” finds him.  He becomes the youngest major in the British Army and serves in India.

George is also a dreamer and even maps out his dreams, not dreams in the sense of aspirations in which he sets down a five-year plan with goals and milestones.  No, his dreams are the regular kind that he has when he’s sleeping.  From the time he is young, many of his dreams have their own geography.  They center around a pile of brushwood on a seashore and the surrounding area is explored by himself and Princess Annieanlouise.  One dream contains the Thirty-Mile Ride, in another one, they save “It” from dying.

The beautiful ending is another example of a reader (at least this reader) having a good idea about where the story is headed but still being truly amazed when he gets there.

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2 responses to “A Kipling re-read I almost forgot…

  1. Hi Dale,
    Good to see someone else spreading the word about this great story! You already know its a favorite of mine, and probably in my top ten of ALL authors’ short stories. As I think I wrote about in a post once, I also once mapped my “dreamworld” in a rudimentary way, at least those recurring locales I (sometimes still) experience. I’ve thought about delving deeper in an attempt to study this phenomenon, but hesitate for fear of dispelling its charm and magic. Also for fear it would be too easy to get caught up in ‘fantasy’ at the expense of real world ‘obligations.’
    -Jay

    • Jay! That’s interesting about your dreams. I can remember recurring dreams that I’ve had, but I don’t remember much about the geography in them. It would be fascinating to study. I did read a small book about dreams sometime in the beginning of 2011. I can’t recall the name or the author at the moment. It had somewhat of a mystical bent to it, almost religious, but it covered various religions, including Native American beliefs (they were the ones that I found most interesting). “The Brushwood Boy” is definitely one of my favorites, too. I’m glad I remembered it!

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