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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'.
... "The Manner of Men" is a striking portrait of Paul... But the events of the narrative show how Paul's power really lies in the way he has adapted himself to 'the manner of men' and impresses himself on them so that he lives in their memories and thoughts. This is particularly evident if the story is read alongside the biblical narrative. Acts 27 focuses on Paul as the 'hero' of the tale, but Kipling's version sees him only as he affects others ... What emerges is Paul's imaginative tact. He sees each man as he is ... He handles Quabil's touchiness, Sulinor's silent fear of the beasts and the prisoners on board the ship precisely as each requires
... The effect is paradoxical. The narrative suggests that in some sense the lives and characters of the sailors have not been changed by their experience of Paul ... At the same time, however, the outcome of the story suggests that Paul affected them each in their own way by contributing to a deepening of their sense of life... In this story, self is not lost in religious ecstasy as it is in some of the earlier Indian stories, but in imaginative identifications with the ordinary lives of other men. In this respect the poem that follows the story is deeply moving, for as a prayer to Christ it expresses in human terms the fact that for Paul 'reward' would be restoration to 'himself' after a lifetime of self-sacrifice for Christ's sake.