by John McGivering with contributions on medical matters by Dr. Gillian Sheehan)
|notes on the text|
For pure horror, this tale is, perhaps, unmatched in English litrature...Knowles also quotes another undated Athenæum:
…Mr. Kipling passes, as he occasionally does, the bounds of decorum, and displays a love of the crudely horrible in its disgusting details; but the fascination of the story is incontestable.The Spectator takes a similar view:
... this story may be curious, but it is also loathsome, and shows Mr. Kipling at his very worst.The Pall Mall Gazette takes a more moderate view and comments:
...As a tale of sheer terror (this story ) could not easily be surpassed.Charles Carrington (p.160) considers this tale and “At the End of the Passage” (earlier in this volume) to be:
two stories of horror and gloom which reflected his own mood of nervous exhaustion.Edmund Wilson, however, (p. 177) takes a very different view, regarding “At the End of the Passage” and this story as harmless bogey tales for children compared with “A Madonna of the Trenches” and “The Wish House.” (Debits & Credits)
...Tabaqui, more than anyone else in the jungle, is apt tp go mad, and then he forgets that he was ever afraid of anyone, and runs through the forest biting everything in his way ... madness is the most disgraceful thing that can overtake a wild creature. We call it hydrophobia, but they call it dewanee – the madness – and run.In a letter 7-8 July 1888, Kipling mentions seeing a man die from hydrophobia.