The Info List - The Light That Failed

The Light That Failed
The Light That Failed
is a novel by the Nobel Prize-winning English author Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling
that was first published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine dated January 1891. Most of the novel is set in London, but many important events throughout the story occur in Sudan and Port Said. It follows the life of Dick Heldar, an artist and painter who goes blind, and his unrequited love for his childhood playmate, Maisie. It is Kipling's first novel, written when he was 26 years old, and is semi-autobiographical; being based upon his own unrequited love for Florence Garrard. Though it was poorly received by critics, the novel has managed to remain in print for over a century. It was also adapted into a play, two silent films as well as a drama film.


1 Background 2 Plot summary 3 Themes 4 Publication history 5 Critical reception 6 Adaptations 7 References 8 External links

Background[edit] By the time Kipling returned to England in 1889, he was well on this way to literary fame due to his successful short stories. However, as a novel was expected from him, he began to write The Light That Failed on a very short deadline of three months. The novel's inspiration was his failed relationship with Florence Garrard, whom he had first met when he was being fostered with his sister in Southsea.[1] Kipling remained in touch with Garrard after returning to India to work as a reporter, corresponding with her over letters. She later terminated their relationship after two years, leaving Kipling devastated as he had believed himself engaged to her.[2] He met her again in 1890 in London and attempted to reignite their relationship. He also visited her in Paris where she was studying in the Académie Julian. It is not known what transpired between them except that he would never see Garrard again.[1] While most of the novel is set in London, the military campaigns are set in Sudan
and Egypt, especially in Port Said
Port Said
and Suakin. The Mahdist War
Mahdist War
serves as a background to Dick's first encounter with Torpenhow, and his later death during the reconquest.[3] Plot summary[edit] The story begins with Dick and Maisie as orphan children in a seaside boarding house under the care of Mrs. Jennet (a sadist drawn from Kipling's own childhood experience with a Mrs Holloway). Dick confesses his infatuation with Maisie but she informs him that she would soon be leaving to complete her education. Years later, Dick is working as a painter and artist among the British armed forces in Sudan. He meets a war correspondent named Torpenhow who, witnessing his skill, arranges for Dick to be hired by the syndicate that he works for. The two men quickly strike a friendship and help each other in their respective trades. Dick is later injured by a sword-cut to the head and spends a night in delirium, moaning about Maisie. Once the campaign is over, Dick returns to London where he eventually reunites with Torpenhow. His war sketches have drawn attention in England and when his former employers try to withhold his submitted works, Dick bullies their representative into returning them. He shares a rented apartment with Torpenhow in London where the two spend their time working and discussing "Art" along with a few other friends. Dick runs into Maisie again who is also working as a painter and a student under Dick's former teacher, Kami. He asks her about their relationship and though she rebuffs his advances, she asks him to visit her every Sunday as she values his advice about her work. He relents, assuming that she would grow to love him as he loves her. He also meets Maisie's roommate, a red-haired girl who immediately despises him. While discussing her work, Dick enters into an argument with Maisie about her attempt to paint the "Melancolia" from the book, The City of Dreadful Night. Dick says that it is beyond her ability and challenges her that he can do it better. Maisie soon departs for Paris to work under Kami for some months and Dick sees her off at the harbour. He finally convinces her to give him a kiss, making the red-haired girl furious. When he returns to his room, he discovers that Torpenhow has brought in a pretty young prostitute named Bessie whom he found collapsed in the hall. Taken by her face, Dick convinces the girl to return to his studio so that he can paint her in return for payment. Eventually, Bessie tries to seduce Torpenhow though they are interrupted by Dick, who rebukes Torpenhow and sends him away. Bessie is furious at Dick but continues to model for him because of the money. Dick hits upon his notion for the "Melancolia" who he models on Bessie but discovers to his horror that he is going blind due to a past battle injury. He still manages to complete the painting a week after Torpenhow returns, relying on whiskey to help his failing vision. However, Bessie destroys the painting in revenge for his earlier interference. Torpenhow hides the fact from Dick who is now completely blind, regretting that he ever helped the girl. When news arrives of a new campaign in Sudan, Torpenhow visits Maisie in Paris and convinces her to meet Dick in the hope that she will look after him. Though visibly anguished, she refuses and Dick gently asks her to leave. He hides this fact from Torpenhow, who leaves for the campaign with their friends. Dick meets with Bessie again and upon learning of the Melancolia's destruction, decides to leave for the campaign as well. With help from an acquaintance in Port Said, he reaches the battlefield at the very start of a battle but is killed by a bullet to the head. Themes[edit] A major theme that runs throughout the novel is unrequited love, embodied in Dick's love for Maisie and his ultimately futile attempts at getting her to fall in love with him in return. In contrast, the novel also explores the friendship between Dick and Torpenhow with The Guardian noting it to be "the only emotionally satisfying relationship" in the novel.[1] Kipling also depicts the cruelty and brutality in war as well as daily life, in events such as Torpenhow gouging out an Arab soldier's eye, Dick's bullying of the syndicate representative, his treatment of Bessie and his response to the gunning down of enemy soldiers in the final chapter.[4] He focuses also on art and the role of the artist, and Dick's paintings form a central feature, especially the Melancolia which is ultimately destroyed.[4] Kipling especially derides the commercialisation of art when Dick is chastised by his friends for his arrogance at his successes and love for money. He contrasts it with Dick's sarcasm for having to clean a graphic portrait of a Sudanese rifleman to appeal to the general public.[5] The novel also explores masculinity and contrasts it with feminine traits and roles as it was during the Victorian period. This is evident in Dick's experiences as a war artist which is shown to have given him a wider perspective on his art and is something that Maisie will never experience.[6] Kipling also shows the effect of childhood abuse with Mrs. Jennett's treatment of Dick causing him to become a "natural liar" and "unkempt in body and savage in soul." This is reflected in his later bullying of the syndicate's representative.[5] The novel also deals with blindness and Dick's slide into despair and helplessness due to the loss of his ability to work and the resulting abandonment by Maisie. Dick sums it up with the statement that "...it is better to remain alone and suffer only the misery of being alone, so long as it is possible to find distraction in daily work. When that resource goes the man is to be pitied and left alone".[5] Publication history[edit] The Light That Failed
The Light That Failed
was initially set to be first published by John W. Lovell in New York but it was delayed, allowing for Lippincott's Magazine to publish it first in January 1891. The novel, Kipling's first ever, was published in four different versions over a period of two years.[7] The Lippincott edition had twelve chapters and a happy ending. However, Kipling had originally written a fifteen chapter version that ended with Dick's death. Deciding that this would be too sad for public consumption, he changed it to end with the protagonists' engagement.[4][7] Lippincott paid Kipling $800 for the novel.[7] The fifteen chapter edition would later be published as a hardback "Standard edition" by MacMillan with a prefatory note that stated: "... The Light That Failed
The Light That Failed
as it was originally conceived by the Writer." It is believed that Kipling's mother had pressed release the happy ending which Kipling later regretted, leading to the note in the "Standard edition" of the novel.[4] Critical reception[edit] The Light That Failed
The Light That Failed
was poorly received by critics. Jad Adams calls the novel richly revealing even though it was badly reviewed, especially its man-loving and misogynistic undercurrents. He calls it "... a metaphor for the failing gallantry of 19th-century man confronting the new woman."[1] Andrew Lycett, in his biography of Kipling, called it a "grown-up novel by an emotionally immature man."[8] It has been variously derided as "sentimental, unstructured, melodramatic, chauvinistic, and implausible."[4] Kipling himself admitted in his autobiography that the novel was a conte and not a built book.[9] Lord Birkenhead calls the novel a "rotten apple" among Kipling's other published works.[10] Adaptations[edit] A play by George Fleming, starring Johnston Forbes-Robertson, his wife Gertrude Elliott, and Sydney Valentine, was first staged in the West End from February to April 1903[11] and moved on to Broadway in November, making the story more famous.[12] It was made into a 1916 silent film by Pathé, with Robert Edeson
Robert Edeson
and Jose Collins, a 1923 silent film by Famous Players-Lasky, and a 1939 film by Paramount, starring Ronald Colman
Ronald Colman
as Heldar, with Muriel Angelus, Ida Lupino, and Walter Huston. References[edit]

^ a b c d Adams, Jad (28 January 2006). "The girl he left behind". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2017.  ^ Dillingham, William B. (March 2010). "Another Way of Looking at Butterflies". The Kipling Journal (335): 59. ISSN 0023-1738. Retrieved 21 February 2017.  ^ Dumont, Hervé. "6. L'EMPIRE COLONIAL BRITANNIQUE : ÉGYPTE ET PROCHE-ORIENT". Le site d'Hervé Dumont (in French). Retrieved 11 March 2017.  ^ a b c d e Annis, Geoffrey (12 February 2008). "The Light That Failed: An Introduction". kiplingsociety.co.uk. Retrieved 18 February 2017.  ^ a b c Annis, Geoffrey (June 2005). " The Light That Failed
The Light That Failed
and Captain Courageous: Studies in Endurance". The Kipling Journal (314): 31–39. ISSN 0023-1738. Retrieved 21 February 2017.  ^ Ayoub, Zainab (December 2010). "The Representation of Masculinity
in The Light That Failed". The Kipling Journal (339): 53–54. ISSN 0023-1738. Retrieved 21 February 2017.  ^ a b c Richards, David Alan. "THE LIGHT THAT FAILED': The Magazine Editions". kiplingsociety.co.uk. Retrieved 18 February 2017.  ^ Lycett, Andrew (2000). Rudyard Kipling. Phoenix. p. 286. ISBN 9780753810859.  ^ Kipling, Rudyard (16 February 1937). Something of Myself. MacMillan. p. 228.  ^ Smith, Frederick (1978). Rudyard Kipling. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 123. ISBN 0297775359.  ^ "The Stage version of The Light That Failed". The Kipling Journal (267): 25–32. September 1993. ISSN 0023-1738. Retrieved 21 February 2017.  ^ The Light that Failed
The Light that Failed
as originally produced on Broadway at the Knickerbocker Theatre, Nov. 9 1903 to Dec. 1903, 32 performances; IBDb.com

External links[edit]

has original text related to this article: The Light That Failed

Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Light That Failed.

Project Gutenberg e-text of The Light That Failed The Light That Failed
The Light That Failed
public domain audiobook at LibriVox

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Rudyard Kipling


The Light that Failed
The Light that Failed
(1891) Captains Courageous
Captains Courageous
(1896) Kim (1901)


Plain Tales from the Hills (1888) Soldiers Three
Soldiers Three
(1888) The Story of the Gadsbys
The Story of the Gadsbys
(1888) In Black and White (1888) The Phantom 'Rickshaw and other Eerie Tales
The Phantom 'Rickshaw and other Eerie Tales
(1888) Under the Deodars
Under the Deodars
(1888) Wee Willie Winkie and Other Child Stories
Wee Willie Winkie and Other Child Stories
(1888) From Sea to Sea and Other Sketches, Letters of Travel (1889) Barrack-Room Ballads
Barrack-Room Ballads
(1892, poetry) Many Inventions (1893) The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book

"Mowgli's Brothers" "Kaa's Hunting" "Tiger! Tiger!" "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi"

The Second Jungle Book
The Second Jungle Book

"Letting in the Jungle" "Red Dog"

All the Mowgli Stories (c. 1895) The Seven Seas (1896, poetry) The Day's Work (1898) Stalky & Co. (1899) Just So Stories
Just So Stories
(1902) The Five Nations
The Five Nations
(1903, poetry) Puck of Pook's Hill
Puck of Pook's Hill
(1906) Rewards and Fairies
Rewards and Fairies
(1910) The Fringes of the Fleet
The Fringes of the Fleet
(1915, non-fiction) Debits and Credits (1926) Limits and Renewals (1932) Rudyard Kipling's Verse: Definitive Edition (1940) A Choice of Kipling's Verse
A Choice of Kipling's Verse
(by T. S. Eliot, 1941)


"The Absent-Minded Beggar" "The Ballad of the "Clampherdown"" "The Ballad of East and West" "The Beginnings" "The Bell Buoy" "The Betrothed" "Big Steamers" "Boots" "Cold Iron" "Dane-geld" "Danny Deever" "A Death-Bed" "The Female of the Species" "Fuzzy-Wuzzy" "Gentleman ranker" "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" "Gunga Din" "Hymn Before Action" "If—" "In the Neolithic Age" "The King's Pilgrimage" "The Last of the Light Brigade" "The Lowestoft Boat" "Mandalay" "The Mary Gloster" "McAndrew's Hymn" "My Boy Jack" "Recessional" "A Song in Storm" "The Sons of Martha" "Submarines" "The Sweepers" "Tommy" "Ubique" "The White Man's Burden" "The Widow at Windsor"

Short stories

".007" "The Arrest of Lieutenant Golightly" "Baa Baa, Black Sheep" "Bread upon the Waters" "The Broken Link Handicap" "The Butterfly that Stamped" "Consequences" "The Conversion of Aurelian McGoggin" "Cupid's Arrows" "The Devil and the Deep Sea" "The Drums of the Fore and Aft" "Fairy-Kist" "False Dawn" "A Germ-Destroyer" "His Chance in Life" "His Wedded Wife" "In the House of Suddhoo" "Kidnapped" "Learoyd, Mulvaney and Ortheris" "Lispeth" "The Man Who Would Be King" "A Matter of Fact" "Miss Youghal's Sais" "The Mother Hive" "Ortheris" "The Other Man" "The Rescue of Pluffles" "The Ship that Found Herself" "The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo" "The Taking of Lungtungpen" "Three and – an Extra" "The Three Musketeers" "Thrown Away" "Toomai of the Elephants" "Watches of the Night" "Wireless" "Yoked with an Unbeliever"


Bibliography Bateman's
(house) Indian Railway Library Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer

Iron Ring

Law of the jungle Aerial Board of Control My Boy Jack (1997 play) Rudyard Kipling: A Remembrance Tale (2006 documentary) My Boy Jack (2007 film)


Elsie Bambridge (daughter) John Kipling
John Kipling
(son) John Lockwood Kipling
John Lockwood Kipling
(father) MacDonald sisters
MacDonald sisters
(mother's family) Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin
(cousin) Georgiana Burne-Jones
Georgiana Burne-Jones
(aunt) Edward Burne-Jones
Edward Burne-Jones
(uncle) Philip Burne-Jones
Philip Burne-Jones
(cousin) Edward Poynter
Edward Poynter
(uncle) Alfred Baldwin (uncle)

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Rudyard Kipling's The Light that Failed


The Light That Failed
The Light That Failed
(1923) The Light That Failed
The Light That Failed


"Bite the bullet" "Stu