Sudhir Kakar, world-reknowned Indian psychoanalyst, author and commentator, from his sunny perch in Goa, writes his first blog for TF for his new book, The Kipling File. He tells us why he wrote about Kipling and also, why it needs to be a work of fiction. October 2020.
The Kipling File is my sixth work of historical fiction that began with a fictional biography of Vatsyayana, the legendary author of the Kamasutra. My fiction alternates more or less with books in cultural psychology where the culture is Hindu India and the psychology is psychoanalytic. My fascination for fictional biography is the challenge it poses in imagining and conveying the inner experience, the emotional truth of the protagonist’s life without taking liberties with the historical facts.
The site of this novel is colonial Lahore in the 1880’s where Kipling spent six years of his youth working at a newspaper, years that were crucial in his becoming a writer. Lahore is also my family home where I grew up in a milieu of Westernized Indians in the higher echelons of the civil services, army and the professions who were convinced of the benefits of British rule and whose political views, like those of Kipling, I abhorred.
In writing this novel, I could then also more empathetically reconnect with a preceding generation that held Kipling in high esteem and shared many of his attitudes and prejudices. Kipling’s ambivalence towards Indians is, of course, towards the Indian part of himself that needed to be addressed in many of his stories. Kipling’s experience of the dark part of his self that came to fore in his major bouts of depression can only be conveyed through the medium of fiction and would remain incomprehensible in an essay.
Latest books by Sudhir Kakar:
The Kipling File: A Novel. Penguin, August 2018
Imaginations of Death and Beyond in India and Europe. Co-editor. Springer, April 2018.
The Collected Essays of Sudhir Kakar, 4 vols. (Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, Religion, Biography). Oxford University Press.
Brotherhood is Now a Distant Aspiration: Essays on Gandhi. Oxford University Press.
Read more about Sudhir Kakar and his work : https://www.kakarartcollective.com/contact