First published in the September 1930 issue of the London Magazine, subtitled “A Romance of the Middle Sea” and headed by the words from 1 Corinthians 15, 20. The magazine has one large illustration by F. Matania. Collected in 1932 in Limits and Renewals, without the sub-title but accompanied by the poem “At His Execution”.
Reprinted in the Penguin Classics edition of Limits and Renewals (1987) with an introduction and notes by Phillip Mallett, and in the Oxford World’s Classics collection Mrs Bathurst and other stories (1991) with an introduction by John Bayley and notes by Lisa Lewis. Included in the Sussex and Burwash editions.
The main story is the voyage, generally reckoned to have taken place in or shortly before 60 AD, during which St Paul was shipwrecked on the island of Malta, then called Melita—the account of which given in Acts 27-28 has been said to be the most vivid account of a voyage and shipwreck in the whole of Greek and Latin literature. In Kipling’s story that voyage is described in the conversation of three reminiscing seamen whose meeting provides a typically Kiplingesque “frame” for the main story.
The main characters in the story, apart from St. Paul himself, are:
Kipling sought expert guidance for much of the nautical detail in this story, his chosen informant being his friend Sir Peter Bates, chairman of the Cunard Steamship Company and of the company formed to build the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth. In a letter to him dated 15 Aug. 1929, [Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Ed. Thomas Pinney, Vol. 5] Kipling sends him detailed particulars of the Spanish wheat-ship in which Paul is to travel, interspersed with specific questions about sails, tonnage, loading of the holds, the probable condition of the cargo etc., etc., ending: 'Further information and advice will be thankfully received...'
Some critical comments
In The Art of Rudyard Kipling (1959) J M S Tompkins writes (on pp. 114-5):
With what virtuosity he charges and directs the first sentence of "The Manner of Men" [quoted]. Colour, weather, movement, place, even (roughly) period are given in twenty words, and in the swing of the first phrase there is the light dip of the summer sea. The rest of the tale has the same rich substantiality of the imagination, the same economy of statement. The interest is strong and various. But the wild-fire never blazes; all is passed through the intellect.In Aspects of Kipling’s Art C A Bodelsen writes(on pp.106-7):
When in "The Manner of Men" one finds seven mentions of the Beasts (with a capital B) of the Roman arena, though these do not figure in the story itself, one knows that the Beasts must be meant to express some important idea (which in this tale is never made explicit at all). The Beasts are the ultimate horror. Even the Romans, who can bear the prospect of 'fire - sword - the sea - torture even', flinch at the thought of them. That Paul, who has fought the Beasts already, and whose back is scarred with their bites, pursues a course that he believes will end by his being thrown to the lions, is a measure of the strength his faith has given him.Bodelsen writes of the importance of "key words" in Kipling's late stories:
Bodelsen ibid (pp. 112-3): The key words are often combined with the device of repetition. This is the case, for example, with the …sevenfold occurrence of 'the Beasts' in "The Manner of Men" [For these occurrences see the heading and pages 234, lines 13 and 18; 236, line 30; 238, line 13; 244, line 10; and 249, lines 3 and 4.]In Kipling’s Hidden Narratives Sandra Kemp (pp. 94-6) writes that:
...in "The Manner of Men" and "The Church that was at Antioch" Kipling "ingeniously uses the hints in the New Testament to create the characters of the disciples Peter and Paul, but the events of their lives are imaginatively framed by the concerns and preoccupations of the Roman soldiers and the Spanish and Sidonian sailors who narrate the tales. ... The famous shipwreck of Acts 27 is retold 'sailor-fashion'.
©George Engle 2005 All rights reserved