edited with an introduction and notes by Paul Fox
Originally published in 1891, The Light that Failed is Rudyard Kipling’s semi-autobiographical first novel. Critics who had praised him for Plain Tales from the Hills were shocked at the unhappy ending and deviation from his usual style, but none could deny the power of Kipling’s writing.
The Light that Failed tells the story of war artist Dick Heldar, his doomed love for childhood sweetheart Maisie, and his descent into blindness. Through Dick, Kipling considers the relationship between Art and Life, espousing his belief that the artist has a duty to paint only what he knows to be true.
The reality pursued by Kipling is vividly portrayed in his descriptions of the battlefields of the Sudan and the fleshpits of Port Said. These near-Naturalistic depictions led to comparisons with Zola and show a very different Kipling from the one famous for his Anglo-Indian tales.
This edition includes:
- critical introduction
- biography of Kipling
- suggestions for further reading
- explanatory footnotes
- alternative “happy ending” from the serialised version in Lippincott’s Magazine
- contemporary reviews
- extracts from The City of Dreadful Night, Fuzzy Wuzzy, Vitaï Lampada, and The Picture of Dorian Gray
- Dürer’s Melencolia I
Paul Fox is an Associate Professor at Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. His academic interests are Decadent aesthetics and late-Victorian gothic. He has published in several international journals, edited and introduced versions of M. P. Shiel’s Prince Zaleski and Gabriele d’Annunzio’s The Intruder, and is currently engaged in researching the relationship of Decadence, aesthetics and time for a book publication.