Books: Kipling Revisited

MAUGHAM'S CHOICE OF KIPLING'S BEST (324 pp.)—Doubleday ($3.95).

"The star of the hour," said Henry James in 1890, when Rudyard Kipling was only 24. "Too clever to live," said Robert Louis Stevenson. To Stevenson, painfully fighting ill health, to James, arduously tracking down man's most elusive footsteps, the sensationally successful debut of the "infant monster" (as James described Kipling) seemed almost unnatural and positively unfair. Wrote Stevenson to James: "Certainly Kipling has gifts; the fairy godmothers were all tipsy at his christening; what will he do with them?"

The answer of later generations has been that what Kipling did with his gifts was...

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