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Posted July 25, 2012
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"the American ... has no meals. He stuffs for ten minutes thrice a day." (23-year old Rudyard Kipling in 1889)
On March 9, 1889 a 23-year old English journalist set sail from Calcutta. He proceeded leisurely eastward across the Pacific, visiting Singapore and Hong Kong, spending a month in Japan before arriving in San Francisco on May 28, 1889. He celebrated the 4th of July 6,200 feet high in Yellowstone National Park's Mammoth Hot Spring Hotel. Later he visited Salt Lake City and Chicago, spent two months with an American family in Beaver, Pennsylvania, interviewed Mark Twain, then finally reached in early October his destination, London, which he took by storm with his "Ballad of East and West" and immediately dominated the literary scene as no one else since Lord Byron and "Childe Harold" in 1812. In 1907 he would win the Nobel Prize for Literature. His name was Joseph Rudyard Kipling. He lived from 1865 to 1936. *** Kipling's AMERICAN NOTES were weekly travel letters from America by the young editor's last employer in India, the Allahabad PIONEER. Quickly pirated cheap American editions made Kipling well known in the USA. There were things that he disliked: e.g., spittoons everywhere and the men who unloaded their tobacco "chaws"; obsession with money above everything else; western men packing guns and shooting fellow humans on slight provocation; girls whose nasal twangs made American English more incomprehensible; long, shaky wooden railroad trestles; Americans incessantly boasting of themselves, their country and their form of government, and American invention of "fast food": "the American ... has no meals. He stuffs for ten minutes thrice a day." *** But there was much that Kipling liked: including the beautiful girls or "maidens" of San Francisco and elsewhere. Maidens grew up unafraid of men and treated and managed swains and suitors as amiable brothers. Amercan girls also made a rich social life for themselves in clubs from which men were excluded. Kipling was also struck by how easily he, an exotic Britisher from india, was readily accepted by American men, good-looking girls and their amiable parents. *** Rudyard Kipling had already published many reports of his extensive travels during a seven year journalistic stay in India from ages 16 - 23, where he had his fill of pushy globe-trotters. He was not therefore surprised by the invasion of eastern tourists that he found during his own five-day package tour of Yellowstone National Park and its hotels. If you read no other chapters from AMERICAN NOTES, read about Yellowstone. He writes in detail of Old Faithful and other famous spots on the tour. But he ends by lamenting "... all that I had not seen -- the forest of petrified trees ... the great Yellowstone Lake where you catch your trout alive in one spring and drop him into another to boil him; and most of all that mysterious Hoodoo region where all the devils not employed in the geysers live and kill the wandering bear and elk ..." (Ch. X) ... AMERICAN NOTES displays the American West of 1889 as its frontier days and cattle drives were ending. It shows industrial fish harvesting and canning in Oregon and the slaughter of pigs and cattle in Chicago. It is about former British soldiers now U.S. cavalrymen on duty in Yellowstone to protect nature from tourists -- and much, much more. A grand read. -OOO-Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 2, 2011
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