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The Eyes of Asia published in the U.S.A. in 1918, contains four letters purporting to be written to relations or friends at home in India by soldiers of the Indian Army (part of the normal British Forces in that country down to 1947) at the time of World War I, 1914-18. They were on active service in Europe and Africa, 1915-18.
The articles forming The Eyes of Asia appeared in the American Saturday Evening Post in six parts over the month of May and the beginning of June 1917 and were published in book form by Doubleday in the United States in 1918. Though three of the stories appeared in the Morning Post in London, there was no English book publication till they were collected in Kipling’s posthumous Sussex Edition. The first of the letters to appear in the Morning Post was No. 2, followed by No. 4 in the Morning Post. No. 3 did not appear in a London paper. No. 1 was in the Morning Post on May 17th and 21st, 1917.
The book consists of four stories that read as letters home from soldiers from India and the North-West Frontier, which take place in 1915 and 1916. “A Retired Gentleman” and “The Fumes of the Heart” are both fictionalized letters written from the perspective of wounded Indian soldiers, a Rajput and a Sikh, to their families. The second is cast as a dictated letter from a Sikh soldier to his brother and has dramatic asides and digressions from the injured soldier punctuating the text. As for the remaining two stories, “The Private Account” is presented as a scene showing an Afghan family reading and responding to a letter from their son on the Western Front, and the final story, “A Trooper of Horse”, takes the form of a letter from an unwounded Muslim soldier in France to his mother.