Sunday, December 5, 2010

King of Kings, Kiplings, and Hallelujahs

Day 300 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project!  Yes, Day 300!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

Well, 65 more days to go, but I wanted to insert some hallelujahs.

Because of this wonderful flash mob scene!

OK, for that, I might submit myself to Christmas shopping at the mall.

So, anyhoo, the book group my mom and dad host just read some Rudyard Kipling, specifically the story "Mary Postgate," in the Anger section of The 7 Deadly Sins Sampler, published by the Great Books Foundation. Dad said it was a deep story and they had a great discussion.

So I read the story tonight, and it is pretty amazing.  Then I did a little research and learned that Kipling, whose own son was off in the Great War, wrote the story to try to keep the worst from happening, by imagining it. I've heard of other writers doing that, too. A kind of magical thinking.

It didn't work for Kipling, though. According to the Sampler, Kipling's 18-year-old son died in the Battle of Loos shortly after the story was first published in the September 1915 issue of the Century magazine.

Having read that little introduction, I read the story with rising grief, fear, horror, and, yes, anger.  It is a horrifying story.

Kipling was angered by the war, by the Germans, in particular, saying in June of 1915, "However the world pretends to divide itself, there are only two divisions in the world today--human being and Germans."  It's astonishing.  And that was the first World War. Repercussions of that world war led to the next, and think how the demonizing continued.

King of Kings.  And Lord of Lords.

Just pausing to hear hallelujahs.  And ironies.

Today I noticed books by Kipling at Babbitt's--Kim and Just-So Stories. For a long time we didn't have any Kipling, much to the dismay of graduate students in Children's Literature classes. Perhaps that's why we have those fine nearly-new paperback copies; students had to buy them new...and brought them to us afterwards.  Sigh.... But at least they got trade or cash on whatever they brought in!

And my dad recently read The Man Who Would be King.

To hear Jeff Buckley sing "Hallelujah," by Leonard Cohen, get Grace. To hear Leonard Cohen sing "Hallelujah," get The Essential Leonard Cohen.  To hear the Hallelujah Chorus, from Handel's Messiah, go to the flash mob link above, and listen and watch on YouTube!


DJ Vorreyer said...

I think that Jeff Buckley singing Hallelujah is probably one of the most beautiful marriages of song and singer.

Shannon said...

I never buy ringtones for my phone, but when "Hallelujah" was available, I bought it. I love hearing its music rise up out of whatever place I've stashed the phone.

Collagemama said...

Okay, I'm writing Kipling on my To Read List. My mom read the Just So Stories to me when I was so very young I didn't understand why other stories didn't begin with "O, best beloved".

Nancy Devine said...

the flash mob scene...what a treat! (i got some tears)
(i got so excited at first that i inadvertently typed "flash mom scene")

Kathleen said...

Nancy, I pretty much wept and smiled all the way through it. Of course, I also loved the flash mob scene in Modern Family.

Oooh, a flash mom scene would make for an interesting flash mob scene.