of the Gadsbys
(1) "Poor Dear Mamma"
(notes edited by John McGivering, with some material on the background to the story by Lisa Lewis)
|notes on the text|
Finding it difficult ... to get the hang of conversation between girls, Kipling asked Mrs. Hill to look over and check the thing in proof.Some critical comments
If “The Story of the Gadsbys” had been written by an elderly roué in 1912 it would have been nothing much; written in 1888 by a young bachelor aged twenty-two, it was astonishing...The notion was taken from a fashionable French novel of the period, Gyp’s Autour du Mariage. [In his autobiography Something of Myself (page 71), Kipling called it 'an Anglo-Indian Autour du Mariage' ]Lisa Lewis writes:
“Gyp” was the nom de plume of Sibylle-Gabrielle-Marie-Antoinette de Riquetti de Mirabeau, Comtesse de Martel de Janville (1849-1932). In Autour du Mariage, a wealthy aristocrat marries a very young girl, daughter of a self-made millionaire, thinking he can mould her to his wishes. She turns out to be spoilt, greedy and wilful, soon gets the upper hand (through sexual blackmail) and ruins him with her extravagance. Their contrasted monologues before the wedding, with very different plans for their life together, evidently intrigued and amused RK. The man wanted a quiet life on his country estate, the girl wanted to live in Paris, have lots of parties and unlimited money to spend on clothes, jewellery and every imaginable luxury.In Something of Myself (Page 72) Kipling commens rather wryly on the critical responses to The Story of the Gadsbys:
Kipling says in a letter to Edmonia Hill (25-27 May, 1888) that he based the character of Gadsby on a Lieutenant Beames [Carrington (page 99) calls him 'a Captain in the 19th Bengal Lancers' but planned to run 'a silver thread' through the material. Unlike Beames, Gadsby serves in a fashionable regiment. Like Gyp’s hero, he is a wealthy aristocrat. Both novels are written in dramatic dialogue, but Kipling lacks Gyp’s satirical edge and her outspokenness on sexual matters.
...when it first appeared in England I was complimented on my 'knowledge of the world'. After my indecent immaturity came to light, I heard less of these gifts. Yet, as the Father said loyally: 'It wasn't all so dam' bad, Ruddy.'