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The Devil’s Sovereignty: Plagiarism and Political Theology in Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King

  • Alex Padamsee
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter argues that far from being in flight from the motive forces of history, Kipling’s most famous short story closely interrogates the archive of colonial historiography, exposing the driving contradictions of liberal imperialism in India, its early theocratic investments, and its evolving ‘despotism of law’. Inspired as much by orientalist scholarship on Mughal political theology as by proto-imperial concepts of ‘Christ as legislator’, Kipling’s recension of British despotism and Nabobery in this text comes to resemble the kind of discursive bricolage and political-theological critique of empire commonly found in an earlier and more radical age of British metropolitan rhetoric.

Keywords

Kipling The Man Who Would Be King Empire Political theology Nabob India Freemasonry Seeley 

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex Padamsee
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EnglishUniversity of KentCanterburyUK

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