...it is a Modernist convention to resort to metalingual comment, that is to discuss the codes used either in the text itself, or on other occasions ... This type of self reflexivity also occurred before the Modernist period. It acquires, however, considerable importance in the Modernist code (3) .Both in the literary texts of this period and in the artes poeticae and literary theories there appear attempts to formulate a new attitude towards literature - stressing its artistic aspect. Already the fin de siècle movements do away with the utilitarian tendencies of the epoch. One can also risk a claim that the fascination of the late 19th century writers with the French and Russian prose (not without an influence on the English short story and its development) concerned rather the narrative techniques than the thematic issues - thus a certain way of literary communication was consciously imitated and adopted. The considerations of the theoreticians contemporary to the Modernists (like Roger Fry), dealing among others with the possibility of grasping the truth about reality by literature (or art in general), concentrate mainly on the artistic ways of creating or modeling the world (Gloversmith 158-163). The Modernist prose writers exposed the constructional rules of their texts (Gloversmith on Virginia Woolf 163-165, 169, 173-179; cf also Fletcher and Bradbury 394), whereas already the stories and novels by Joseph Conrad - Kipling’s contemporary - reveal a strong consciousness of the literary and cultural systems and codes used by the writer (Modrzewski (11) passim). E.M. Forster not only makes art the subject of discussion of his prose texts, but he also introduces the theme of artistic creation into his short stories by the very way the world is modeled there (Lubich Pyrzowska (9)7-17).
...its main effect was to draw attention to the narratorial role itself, to inculpate the reader with the narrative voice which claimed - and frequently exercised - ostentatious tyranny over the reader, anticipating and often cheating his expectations, frequently for comic effects ((2) Fletcher and Bradbury 395).The difference between Kipling’s short stories and the earlier prose consists mainly in the fact that in the latter the metatextual patterns are to be recognized on the level of the narrator’s utterance (often commenting upon his own tale). In Kipling’s texts the play with the reader’s expectations does not take place on the communcative level of narrator-narratee, but on that of implied author-reader. Thus the question "why" a given device has been utilized, what is its function in the text’s structure, what is its relation to other textual elements is not the theme of the narrator’s divagations, but part of the task that the implied author - a hidden holder of the text’s rules - gives to the assumed reader.
In Modernism the relation between text and represented world is characterized by the convention of epistemological doubt. There is no pretension that the text indeed describes the world it aims to describe, nor that the explanations it gives are more than an approximation of truth. With regard to the organization of the text this implies a preference for the continuing flow of the stream-of-consciousness, which never aims at a definite result and even less at general validity ((3) Fokkema 46).In Kipling’s stories the "objective" reality is never annihilated nor is the possibility of its perception questioned. They create the illusion of the presented reality much more strongly than the Modernist texts, the reader can "enter" the fictional world, identifying with the characters or the addressee of the narration (which results mainly from the traditional narrative techniques adopted by the writer). From the perspective of the narrative situation a tale reveals its referential function, so the reader never loses from sight the persons and events told by the narrator, thus the existence of the "objective" reality is never questioned. [(2) To paraphrase Ortega y Gasset’s statement, the artist still claims that he is telling the world and not that he is creating it (cf. Fletcher and Bradbury 394).]
"Most would agree that the best novel of 1907 was The Secret Agent, a story with an enormous hole in the plot: so this particular kind of invitation to exceptionally hermeneutic activity on the part of the reader must be attributed to Conrad and not to Alain Robbe-Grillet, who has admittedly more difficult hole in Le Voyeur".It is perhaps worth noting that a similar sense of textual incompleteness (which was often a subject of the narrator’s divagations) characterized also the Polish prose at the beginning of the 20th century [Lebkowska 15-34, Nycz passim (10)]. Yet in the case of Kipling’s stories that incompleteness of the presented reality does not suggest an analogous incompleteness of the text. On the contrary - the reader is provoked to look for meanings on the level of the text. The world vision presented in a given story is always complete (no matter how subjective, understated or full of preteritions the narrative is), and if a given story leads to another then the later text is not merely a continuation of the plot (as it was in the 19th century prose) or a supplementation of the extant story with a new, indispensable element. It is simply a creation of a new pattern, which may grow from another text but is at same time independent of it as a meaningful structure.