Brander Matthews (1852–1929). The Short-Story. 1907.By Rudyard Kipling (1865– )
Notes to The Man Who Was
|OF all the recent writers of fiction in our language no one has written more admirable short-stories than Mr. Kipling. A journalist in his early manhood, he learned to tell a tale in the space of a column or two; and as he has grown in knowledge, in feeling, and in skill, he has continued to write short-stories of an extraordinary variety. He has given us mere anecdotes, sharp snapshots of society, character-studies, tragic fantasies, eerie tales of a haunting mystery. No one of his short-stories is more striking than “The Man Who Was,” written in 1889, although certain of his later tales are simpler in style and more delicate in imagination.
|The opening paragraphs are almost journalistic in their easy commonplace; and they serve to provide us with the background of everyday existence, against which stands out the strange experience of the man who was. There is invention and ingenuity in the story, but they are not there for their own sake; they are the servants of the larger imagination, which brings before us the appealing figure of the man whose sufferings have been appalling.