Short summary - The Light That Failed - Sir Joseph Rudyard Kipling

British literature summaries - 2020

Short summary - The Light That Failed
Sir Joseph Rudyard Kipling

Dick Heldar, an orphan boy, lives with his guardian, the evil widow of Mrs. Janett. After six years at her place, Dick meets Maisey, a long-haired gray-eyed girl, the new pupil of the widow. Friendship arises between them. For several years they live in the same house, but then Maisie's guardians send her to study in France. Before her departure, Dick declares her love.

Ten years pass. Dick travels the colonial fronts of Britain and sketches battle scenes. By this time, he had already become a talented battle painter. In Sudan, he met with a representative of the Central Southern Syndicate, a war correspondent for Torpengow, and, thanks to his mediation, gets a job as a draftsman in the syndicate. During one of the battles, Dick, covering Thorpengow, who became his close friend, is wounded in the head. He loses his sight for a while and in the night delirium he calls Maisie all the time.

Sudanese company ends, Dick's head heals. Thorpengou leaves for London, and Dick loiters around Cyprus, Alexandria, Izmailia, Port Said and continues to paint. By the time he is nearing the end of his money, he receives a telegram from England from Torpengow, in which a friend calls him to London with the news that the syndicate wants to renew his contract, because his drawings really appeal to the public.

Arriving in England, Dick at the suggestion of Thorpengow settles with his friend. Soon, the head of the Central Southern Syndicate comes to him, an overweight elderly man with a sore heart, whom Dick forces to return to him all his drawings made in Sudan. Disagreeing with the requirements of Dick, Mr. still has to give in to the pressure of a young artist. Dick independently arranges an exhibition of his works, which is very successful, so that he even manages to sell all his drawings. From now on, he is obsessed with the desire to earn as much money as possible in order to compensate for the deprivations that fell to his lot due to their lack. He begins to skid, believes that for the sake of money he can paint what the public likes, to hack, and this will not damage his reputation. Friends are trying to reason with him. Thorpengou even tears one of his works.

One day, while walking along the promenade, Dick accidentally meets Maisie, whom he had not seen for more than ten years. He learns that now Macy is an artist, lives in London and rents an apartment with his impressionist girlfriend. In Dick’s soul, with a new force flashes the feeling that arose in childhood.

The next day and from now on, every Sunday, Dick goes to Maisie to, at her request, help her master the secrets of art. He quickly discovers that Macy is an ordinary artist, but fanatically dreaming of success. Work is the main thing in her life. She paints daily and with titanic patience. However, she lacks talent and sensuality, and besides, she is poorly skilled in technology. Despite this, Dick loves her more than anything. She warns him in advance that he should not hope for anything against her and that the main purpose of her life is success in painting.

Dick is patient, he does not rush things and waits for the circumstances to develop in his favor and love will wake up in Maisie. This continues for several months. There is no shift in their relationship and is not expected. Dick abandons his work and lives only the dream of Maisie's love. One day, he decides to move the situation from a dead end and, unexpectedly for Maisie, arriving at her on a weekday, takes her for a walk to the suburbs, where they lived in childhood with Mrs. Janett, hoping to awaken her memories of past times and that in the evening, when Macy replied to Dick's declaration of love, that she forever belongs to him. Sitting on the seashore, he eloquently tells her about the distant islands and countries, urging him to abandon England and go on a trip with him. Macy’s soul remains closed, it is cold and once again brings Dick far-fetched arguments about the impossibility of their life together. Dick's feelings are still strong, and he promises her that he will wait for her as long as necessary. Maisie herself despises herself for her selfishness and callousness, but she can’t do anything about herself.

Friends of Dick notice that he is upset, and offer him somewhere to leave in order to be distracted, but he refuses. A week later, Dick again goes to Macy and finds out that she intends to paint a picture called "Melancholy." She shares with him her ridiculous ideas. Dick loses control of himself and claims that she has no talent, but only ideas and aspirations. He also decides to write Melancholy and prove by the excellence of his work that it is time for Maisie to stop this game of painting and tame her vanity, but at first the work is not glued.

A month later, Macy, as usual, leaves for his painting teacher in France in Vitry on Marne to paint a picture under his guidance. She plans to return in six months. Dick is upset about her departure. In parting, before boarding the ship, she allows Dick to kiss himself once, and the young man burned with passion has to be content with it.

Returning home, he finds a sleeping person of easy virtue in the apartment. Thorpengow explains that he found her in the porch in a hungry swoon and brought her to her house to bring her to life. When she wakes up, Dick begins to see in her a wonderful model for his Melancholy, for her eyes are fully consistent with his plan for the picture. The girl's name is Bessie, she comes daily and poses for Dick. After a while, she gets the best out of her friends ’apartment, starts to darn their socks, tidies in the workshop and spills tea. She is embarrassed by Dick, but Thorpengow tries to tie him to herself and almost begs him to let her stay with him, as at the most decisive moment Dick interrupts their conversation and frightens Bessie. He makes Thorpengou change his mind and convinces him to leave for a while. Bessie penetrates Dick with burning hatred.

In the absence of Thorpengow, Dicku's eyes at times begin to obscure the veil. He goes to the ophthalmologist, and the doctor tells him that his optic nerve is damaged and will soon become blind. Dick is in shock. Having regained consciousness, he tries to finish the picture as soon as possible. His vision is deteriorating more rapidly. Dick begins to abuse alcohol. Within a few weeks, he turns into a flabby, miserable, unshaven, pale and hunched subject. Returning Thorpengow catches in the corridor of Bessie, who came to the last session. She is furious because Thorpengou does not pay attention to her. Before leaving, she spoils the picture, from which there remains only a dirty stain.

After Dick showed admiring Thorpengou still not spoiled picture, he almost immediately completely lost his sight. Therefore, when Thorpengow sees what Bessie has done with the picture, in order not to upset his friend, he does not tell him in the hope that Dick will never know about it. Dick, obsessed with blindness, raves and deliriously tells his whole life. So Thorpengow learns about Macy and goes after her to France. After some hesitation, she decides to visit Dick. At the sight of his misfortune, she was seized with insane pity, but no more. When Dick shows her his picture and asks to accept it as a gift, Maisy, deciding that he has lost his mind, barely restraining his laughter and not even saying goodbye to him, runs away. Dick is terribly depressed by her behavior.

Thorpengow with other correspondents leaves England for another war. On a walk, Dick meets Bessie. She, learning that he was blind, forgives him, and finding that he is also rich, she decides that it would be nice to marry him. Dick, touched by her participation, invites her to live with him. Bessie decides to torture him a bit and disagree right away. She tells him about her trick with the picture and apologizes to him. Dick is not angry, but is fundamentally changing his plans. He refuses to marry, transfers all his money to Maisy, and goes to Port Said. There, old acquaintances help him get to the front, to where Torpengou is located. In the vague hope of gaining that full life that he once lived, he subconsciously strives for death. At that moment, when Dick gets to the Thorpengow squad and sees his friend, a shootout begins, in which a compassionate bullet hits him in the head and puts an end to his torment.