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The Light That Failed

Rudyard Kipling

Book Overview: 

This novel, follows the life of Dick Heldar, a painter. Most of the novel is set in London, but many important events throughout the story occur in Sudan or India.

It is a tale of of a man who loves his work, friends and boats and starts in Dick’s childhood, then takes you through his life – the war in Sudan, friends abroad, life in England, his love for Maisie, the obstacles those closest to him meet when a very independent man fights becoming dependent and finally the life changes Dick faces as his eyes fail him.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .st!' and a shift of the same wind that had opened the fog drove across Dick's face the black smoke of a river-steamer at her berth below the wall. He was blinded for the moment, then spun round and found himself face to face with—Maisie.

There was no mistaking. The years had turned the child to a woman, but they had not altered the dark-gray eyes, the thin scarlet lips, or the firmly modelled mouth and chin; and, that all should be as it was of old, she wore a closely fitting gray dress.

Since the human soul is finite and not in the least under its own command, Dick, advancing, said 'Halloo!' after the manner of schoolboys, and Maisie answered, 'Oh, Dick, is that you?' Then, against his will, and before the brain newly released from considerations of the cash balance had time to dictate to the nerves, every pulse of Dick's body throbbed furiously and his palate dried in his mouth. The fog shut down again, and Maisie's face was pearl-white throu. . . Read More

Community Reviews

So, as I dislike reviews that attempt to provide a plot synopsis, I shan't go into one; what is important, however, is how evocative and affecting the book is. And, man, Kipling continues to write well. Of course, this is not one of his more well-known works, but it is poignant, well-envisioned,...more

Oh, the works that get passed over. Some of the greatest work of the greatest authors is ignored because it's missing some of the charm of their more popular works. Rudyard Kipling may be known best for The Jungle Book, Kim, and Captain Courageous, but he possessed a deeper observation of the wor...more

The Light That Failed took me into a different realm of Kipling's writing. It's the tale of an artist who draws what he sees of war, and then, as his eyesight is failing, sets out to complete his Melancholia.

I won't give any more spoilers than that, except to say that his portrayals of the friend...more

Originally published on my blog here in October 2000.

One of Kipling's most interesting novels, The Light that Failed hovers on the edge of sentimentality for most of its pages, never quite slipping. Dick Heldar is an artist, who becomes successful through drawings of a war in Sudan for one of the...more

After seminary graduation and moving my possessions back from New York City to Illinois, I was invited to visit Norway by family there, my first visit since 1962. Most of the time I stayed with Mother in her apartment in the Majorstua neighborhood in Oslo, not far from Vigland Park.

Arriving, trav...more

I brought this book along with me to China because my daughter needed a procedure done because she has some problems with her optic nerve and we were going to have a lot of time in the hospital.

I got it on a whim. I love Kipling's poetry and some of his other work. When I got back to my house aft...more

I assumed I wouldn't like this, just another boring, over-written 19th century novel. It was in a faded red, cloth-bound, one-volume collection of Kipling's works published by Black's Readers Service in 1928. The book was on a shelf next to the cot in the room I was staying at. I had nothing else...more

This is a story about two friends Dick and Maisie who drift apart from each other after one of the friends leave to go to Paris to go to school. They reunite ten years later both working as artists. One is a war artist and the other one is studying under the teacher Kami, a teacher Dick had learn...more

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