The attitude of the authorities toward the lads is encapsualted perfectly by our course tag - a quotation from Margaret Atwood:
"Men's bodies are the most dangerous things on Earth"We are now completing our examination of Rudyard Kipling's Stalky & Co. which I am arguing is a kind of Urtext (see OED) for twentieth-century British masculinity. In addition to understanding its literary formulation, lecture identified a set of fundamental qualities -- which I refer to as the Stalky model -- that subsequent novelists of troubled masuclinity work both with and against.
These qualities are summarised as follows:
- Close-knit group of contrasting male companions.
- Unspoken (taboo'd) respect for the larger system.
- Resistance, criticism & forms of rebellion written into the system as an outlet against revolution.
- "stalkiness" - individual cunning and pluck - beats brawn and size.
- A kind and sapient Head.
- Stoic-Christian blend that is fully orthodox to neither.
- Under the Stoic-Christian ethic, judicious violence is built into the system.
- Centrality of performance as a defining value: its ultimate form is a rite of passage.
- An authority-confidante -- typically an ecclesiastic - as a personified conscience.
Wednesday's lecture will complete our study of Kipling, discuss the Stalky themes in the course film The Browning Version and introduce Graham Greene and his novel Brighton Rock.