(notes edited by John McGivering. We have been grateful for critical comments and suggestions from Peter Havholm )
notes on the text
Kipling’s continued concern for the rest of his life with the mental and nervous effects left by their war experiences upon ex-soldiers and ex-officers ... Eight of the stories are directly concerned with this subject ... His most terrible general evocation of madness, “The Mother’s Son", is used as a preface to one of the least successful of these stories, “Fairy-kist”.And Andrew Lycett (page 526) notes:
Rudyard makes much of the fact that in his war-blasted state, Wollin was potentially susceptible to any bizarre idea – ‘Jack-the Ripperism’ or religious mania - that he might encounter.J M S Tompkins comments:
The complexity of approach here, and in other tales of the period, has given rise to the supposition that Kipling's control of his form slackened towards the end of his writing life. This is not so; the tales never wander, but the density of the interwoven patterns sometimes baffles the eye. We have to peer as if through lattice work to see Wollin as he sits in his cellar.In the “Introduction” to the Oxford Authors, Rudyard Kipling, Daniel Karlin points out that “Fairy-kist” depends for its plot and interpretation on a story by the Victorian children’s author Juliana Horatia Ewing.
I have still a bound copy of Aunt Judy’s Magazine of the early ’seventies, in which appeared Mrs. Ewing’s Six to Sixteen. I owe more in circuitous ways to that tale than I can tell. I knew it, as I know it still, almost by heart. Here was a history of real people and real things...Karlin suggests that Mrs. Ewing “is Kipling’s true foster-mother, and literature his only home" (xxvi-xxvii). In “The Janeites,” Brother Anthony at Faith and Works No. 5837 E.C. asks, “But people don’t get so crazy fond o’ books as all that, do they?”