Volume LIXMay 2012Number 2

Book Review: "Man and Mason - Rudyard Kipling" by Richard Jaffa
Reviewed by Cathy Giaimo, Assistant Librarian, The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania

Bro. Rudyard Kipling was many things: acclaimed writer, poet, Nobel Laureate and world traveler are among some of his many accomplishments. Richard Jaffa, British Freemason and Kipling devotee, has written about another side of Kipling's life: his love for Freemasonry and its influences on his writings.

Bro. Jaffa begins with a brief biography of Bro. Kipling, from his early childhood in India and education in England to his return to India as a young man (barely 17) to begin his career as a journalist - which led to his life's work as a celebrated author. In 1886, he joined Lodge of Hope and Perseverance No. 782, E.C., of Lahore, by dispensation. He was underage (20) at the time, and the lodge was desperate for a good secretary! As a young man, Bro. Kipling had a curiosity about the life and country of India, and having absorbed the local color, made good use of it in his writings. In such a stratified society as India, what better place than in lodge to meet men of all stripes, national and ex-patriots, Hindu, Muslim, Jew and Christian, where these differences could be put aside for a few hours?

The book continues with each chapter devoted to Bro. Kipling's books such as "The Man Who Would Be King;" "Kim;" his short story collection, "Debits and Credits;" and his poetry. Bro. Jaffa discusses the Masonic references found in his works, the probable influences and more biographical background. The chapters may even pique your interest to read Bro. Kipling's works. The Masonic references in "The Man Who Would Be King" are rather obvious, but in "Kim" and others, they may be more subtle. Once Bro. Kipling left India for good, he rarely stepped into a lodge meeting, but the lessons he learned in the lodge stayed with him for the rest of his life.

"Man and Mason" is written with the Freemason in mind, but in the Masonic Notes and Glossary, Bro. Jaffa spends time explaining a bit of the history of Freemasonry and some of the inner workings of an English lodge for those less conversant in the fraternity.

For this book and other biographies on Bro. Kipling and others, please check our website, www.pagrandlodge.org, or call the library, 800-462-0430, ext. 1933.

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