by Rudyard Kipling

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Kim (1901) is Rudyard Kipling's story of an orphan born in colonial India and torn between love for his native India and the demands of Imperial loyalty to his Irish-English heritage and to the British Secret Service. Long recognized as Kipling's finest work, Kim was a key factor in his winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907. Our text is the 1901 first English edition, fully annotated for undergraduate readers and accompanied by maps of India and the Grand Trunk Road. "Backgrounds" collects selections from Kipling's autobiography, letters, short stories, and poems; four contemporary assessments, including that of the Nobel Prize Committee; an excerpt from Charles Carrington's biography of Kipling; and contextual essays by Blair Kling and Ann Parry. The thirteen interpretive essays in "Criticism" explore the novel's central themes and suggest the range of Kipling criticism from the 1950s to the present. Noel Annan, Irving Howe, Edward Said, Ian Baucom, A. Michael Matin, John A. McClure, Michael Hollington, Parama Roy, Sara Suleri, Patrick Williams, Suvir Kaul, Mark Kinkead-Weekes, and Zohreh T. Sullivan provide their varied perspectives. A Chronology and a Selected Bibliography are also included.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781434619020
Publisher: Bibliolife DBA of Bibilio Bazaar II LLC
Publication date: 10/11/2007
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 316
Product dimensions: 7.44(w) x 9.69(h) x 0.66(d)

About the Author

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1930) nació en Bombay, India. A los seis años fue enviado a estudiar a Inglaterra y en 1882 regresó a la India, donde trabajó para la Civil and Military Gazette de Lahore, hasta 1889, en calidad de editor. De su obra narrativa cabe destacar La luz que se apaga (1891), El libro de la selva (1894), Capitanes intrépidos (1897), Stalky & Cia. (1899) y Kim (1901). También es notable su obra poética, con títulos como Baladas del cuartel (1892) y Las cinco naciones (1903). Viajó por Asia y Estados Unidos, donde se casó con Caroline Balestier y vivió un tiempo en Vermont. En 1903 se estableció en Inglaterra y en 1907 le fue concedido el Premio Nobel de literatura. Kipling fue uno de los autores más populares y respetados de su época, uno de los grandes escritores del crepúsculo victoriano.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter I

Oh ye who tread the Narrow Way

By Tophet-flare to Judgment Day,

Be gentle when the heathen pray

To Buddha at Kamakura!

He sat, in defiance of municipal orders, astride the gun Zam- Zammah on her brick platform opposite the old Ajaib-Gher—the Wonder House, as the natives call the Lahore Museum. Who hold Zam-Zammah, that "fire-breathing dragon," hold the Punjab; for the great green-bronze piece is always first of the conqueror's loot.

There was some justification for Kim,—he had kicked Lala Dinanath's boy off the trunnions,—since the English held the Punjab and Kim was English. Though he was burned black as any native; though he spoke the vernacular by preference, and his mother-tongue in a clipped uncertain sing-song; though he consorted on terms of perfect equality with the small boys of the bazar; Kim was white—a poor white of the very poorest. The half-caste woman who looked after him (she smoked opium, and pretended to keep a second-hand furniture shop by the square where the cheap cabs wait) told the missionaries that she was Kim's mother's sister; but his mother had been nursemaid in a colonel's family and had married Kimball O'Hara, a young colour-sergeant of the Mavericks, an Irish regiment. He afterwards took a post on the Sind, Punjab, and Delhi railway, and his regiment went home without him. The wife died of cholera in Ferozepore, and O'Hara fell to drink and loafing up and down the line with the keen-eyed three-year-old baby. Societies and chaplains anxious for the child, tried to catch him, but O'Hara drifted away, till he came across the woman who took opium and learned thetaste from her, and died as poor whites die in India. His estate at death consisted of three papers—one he called his "ne varietur" because those words were written below his signature thereon, and another his "clearance-certificate." The third was Kim's birth-certificate. Those things, he was used to say, in his glorious opium hours, would yet make little Kimball a man. On no account was Kim to part with them, for they belonged to a great piece of magic—such magic as men practised over yonder behind the Museum, in the big blue and white Jadoo-Gher—the Magic House, as we name the Masonic Lodge. It would, he said, all come right some day, and Kim's horn would be exalted between pillars—monstrous pillars—of beauty and strength. The Colonel himself, riding on a horse, at the head of the finest regiment in the world, would attend to Kim,—little Kim that should have been better off than his father. Nine hundred first-class devils, whose god was a Red Bull on a green field, would attend to Kim, if they had not forgotten O'Hara—poor O'Hara that was gang-foreman on the Ferozepore line. Then he would weep bitterly in the broken rush chair on the verandah. So it came about after his death that the woman sewed parchment, paper, and birth-certificate into a leather amulet-case which she strung round Kim's neck.

"And some day," she said, confusedly remembering O'Hara's prophecies, "there will come for you a great Red Bull on a green field, and the Colonel riding on his tall horse, yes, and"—dropping into English—"nine hundred devils."

"Ah," said Kim, "I shall remember. A Red Bull and a Colonel on a horse will come, but first, my father said, come the two men making ready the ground for these matters. That is how, my father said, they always did; and it is always so when men work magic."

If the woman had sent Kim up to the local Jadoo-Gher with those papers, he would, of course, have been taken over by the Provincial Lodge and sent to the Masonic Orphanage in the Hills; but what she had heard of magic she distrusted. Kim, too, held views of his own. As he reached the years of indiscretion, he learned to avoid missionaries and white men of serious aspect who asked who he was, and what he did. For Kim did nothing with an immense success. True, he knew the wonderful walled city of Lahore from the Delhi Gate to the outer Fort Ditch; was hand in glove with men who led lives stranger than anything Haroun al Raschid dreamed of; and he lived in a life wild as that of the Arabian Nights, but missionaries and secretaries of charitable societies could not see the beauty of it. His nickname through the wards was "Little Friend of all the World"; and very often, being lithe and inconspicuous, he executed commissions by night on the crowded housetops for sleek and shiny young men of fashion. It was intrigue, of course,—he knew that much, as he had known all evil since he could speak,—but what he loved was the game for its own sake—the stealthy prowl through the dark gullies and lanes, the crawl up a water-pipe, the sights and sounds of the women's world on the flat roofs, and the headlong flight from housetop to housetop under cover of the hot dark. Then there were holy men, ash-smeared faquirs by their brick shrines under the trees at the riverside, with whom he was quite familiar—greeting them as they returned from begging-tours, and, when no one was by, eating from the same dish. The woman who looked after him insisted with tears that he should wear European clothes—trousers, a shirt, and a battered hat. Kim found it easier to slip into Hindu or Mohammedan garb when engaged on certain businesses. One of the young men of fashion—he who was found dead at the bottom of a well on the night of the earthquake—had once given him a complete suit of Hindu kit, the costume of a low-caste street boy, and Kim stored it in a secret place under some baulks in Nila Ram's timber-yard, beyond the Punjab High Court, where the fragrant deodar logs lie seasoning after they have driven down the Ravee. When there was business or frolic afoot, Kim would use his properties, returning at dawn to the verandah, all tired out from shouting at the heels of a marriage procession, or yelling at a Hindu festival. Sometimes there was food in the house, more often there was not, and Kim went out again to eat with his native friends.

As he drummed his heels against Zam-Zammah he turned now and again from his king-of-the-castle game with little Chota Lal and Abdullah the sweetmeat-seller's son, to make a rude remark to the native policeman on guard over rows of shoes at the Museum door. The big Punjabi grinned tolerantly: he knew Kim of old. So did the water-carrier, sluicing water on the dry road from his goat-skin bag. So did Jawahir Singh, the Museum carpenter, bent over new packing-cases. So did everybody in sight except the peasants from the country, hurrying up to the Wonder House to view the things that men made in their own province and elsewhere. The Museum was given up to Indian arts and manufactures, and anybody who sought wisdom could ask the curator to explain.

"Off! Off! Let me up!" cried Abdullah, climbing up Zam- Zammah's wheel.

"Thy father14 was a pastry-cook, Thy mother stole the ghi," sang Kim. "All Mussalmans fell off Zam-Zammah long ago!"

"Let me up!" shrilled little Chota Lal in his gilt-embroidered cap. His father was worth perhaps half a million sterling, but India is the only democratic land in the world.

"The Hindus fell off Zam-Zammah too. The Mussalmans pushed them off. Thy father was a pastry-cook——"

He stopped; for there shuffled round the corner, from the roaring Motee Bazar,16 such a man as Kim, who thought he knew all castes, had never seen. He was nearly six feet high, dressed in fold upon fold of dingy stuff like horse-blanketing, and not one fold of it could Kim refer to any known trade or profession. At his belt hung a long open-work iron pencase and a wooden rosary such as holy men wear. On his head was a gigantic sort of tam-o'-shanter. His face was yellow and wrinkled, like that of Fook Shing, the Chinese bootmaker in the bazar. His eyes turned up at the corners and looked like little slits of onyx.

"Who is that?" said Kim to his companions.

"Perhaps it is a man," said Abdullah, finger in mouth, staring.

"Without doubt," returned Kim; "but he is no man of India that I have ever seen."

"A priest, perhaps," said Chota Lal, spying the rosary. "See! He goes into the Wonder House!"

"Nay, nay," said the policeman, shaking his head. "I do not understand your talk." The constable spoke Punjabi. "Oh, The Friend of all the World, what does he say?"

"Send him hither," said Kim, dropping from Zam-Zammah, flourishing his bare heels. "He is a foreigner, and thou art a buffalo."

The man turned helplessly and drifted towards the boys. He was old, and his woollen gaberdine still reeked of the stinking artemisia of the mountain passes.

"O Children, what is that big house?" he said in very fair Urdu.

"The Ajaib-Gher, the Wonder House!" Kim gave him no title—such as Lala or Mian. He could not divine the man's creed.

"Ah! The Wonder House! Can any enter?"

"It is written above the door—all can enter."

"Without payment?"

"I go in and out. I am no banker," laughed Kim.

"Alas! I am an old man. I did not know." Then, fingering his rosary, he half turned to the Museum.

"What is your caste? Where is your house? Have you come far?" Kim asked.

"I came by Kulu—from beyond the Kailas—but what know you? From the hills where"—he sighed—"the air and water are fresh and cool."

"Aha! Khitai (a Chinaman)," said Abdullah proudly. Fook Shing had once chased him out of his shop for spitting at the joss above the boots.

"Pahari (a hillman)," said little Chota Lal.

"Aye, child—a hillman from hills thou'lt never see. Didst hear of Bhotiyal (Tibet)? I am no Khitai, but a Bhotiya (Tibetan), since you must know—a lama—or, say a guru in your tongue."

"A guru from Tibet," said Kim. "I have not seen such a man. They be Hindus in Tibet, then?"

"We be followers of the Middle Way, living in peace in our lamasseries, and I go to see the Four Holy Places before I die. Now do you, who are children, know as much as I do who am old." He smiled benignantly on the boys.

"Hast thou eaten?"

He fumbled in his bosom and drew forth a worn wooden begging-bowl. The boys nodded. All priests of their acquaintance begged.

"I do not wish to eat yet." He turned his head like an old tortoise in the sunlight. "Is it true that there are many images in the Wonder House of Lahore?" He repeated the last words as one making sure of an address.

"That is true," said Abdullah. "It is full of heathen b¯uts. Thou also art an idolator."

"Never mind him," said Kim. "That is the Government's house and there is no idolatry in it, but only a Sahib with a white beard. Come with me and I will show."

"Strange priests eat boys," whispered Chota Lal.

"And he is a stranger and a b¯ut-parast (idolator)," said Abdullah, the Mohammedan.

Kim laughed. "He is new. Run to your mothers' laps, and be safe. Come!"

Copyright© 2004 by Rudyard Kipling

Table of Contents

Chronology of Charles Dickens's Life and Workxv
Historical Context of Great Expectationsxvii
Great Expectations1
The Original Ending of Great Expectations599
Interpretive Notes614
Critical Excerpts621
Questions for Discussion631
Suggestions for the Interested Reader633

Reading Group Guide

1. For decades many critics have shown great disdain for Kipling, equating his work with the idea that British imperialism was a righteous and justified act. Is this assessment fair? Was Kipling simply writing what he knew or structuring his literature on his political beliefs?

2. As Kim moves from the intellectual world of school to the spiritual world he finds with the lama later in the story, he continually questions who he is. Is this questioning simply that of a young orphan or does it hint at larger political unease?

3. What is the purpose of the prophecy Kim brings to the soldiers?

4. Is it surprising, given Kim’s spirituality, that he joins the Secret Service? How does he reconcile his two separate lives?

5. In a 1943 essay, critic Edmund Wilson referred to the ending of Kim as a “betrayal” of the relationship of the old man and the young Kim, which made the book more literary than a mere adventure story. Do you agree with this? Why or why not?

6. In her article “Adolescence, Imperialism, and Identity in Kim and Pegasus in Flight,” Nicole Didicher says, “Adults writing for adolescents inevitably use imperialist discourse to influence their readers’ maturation. Kipling . . . uses an existing imperialist society to present the protagonist’s establishment of his psychosocial identity.” Do you agree that all adult writers “inevitably” use imperialist discourse to reach their adolescent audiences? Did Kipling use imperialist India because that is what he knew, or was he simply entertaining a young audience?

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Kim 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 206 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok, we all know that he was a colonialist and at times bordered on bigotry, but this book is Rudyard Kipling's best and it is an absolute masterpiece. It's the ultimate tale of an Englishman gone native: James Bond meets Siddhartha. Kipling's identification with Kim, his young protagonist, is complete. This is the work of a man passionately in love with India, and in possession of extraordinary powers of observation and description.
steamyfan More than 1 year ago
One of the most beautiful tales of friendship I have ever read, Kim is much more. Rudyard Kipling created in Kim a novel in the mold of the classic heroic journey that has a pedigree reaching back to Gilgamesh and the Odyssey. With Kim, a young white boy, sahib, at it's center and his friend and mentor the Lama, we see the world of India in the nineteenth century as it is ruled by Great Britain. Kipling raises questions of identity (Who is Kim?), culture, spirituality and the nature of fate. Most of all he depicts the growth of a young man through his quest to find his destiny and the bond that develops between Kim as 'chela' or disciple and his Lama. The greatness of this novel lies in Kipling's ability to combine all of these themes with a natural style that conveys the richness both of the lives of Kim and his friends and the fecundity of life in India. One of the most enduring images for me was the close tie Kim has with the land itself. This is shown several times throughout the novel culminating in his final renewal when stretched out on the earth near the end of the novel. The epic quest is successful as this novel unfolds a positive and uplifting narrative.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kipling has become, in these post-colonial days, the man you love to hate. Yet few have equaled Kipling¿s story of an Indian beggar boy whose experience in the heyday of the British raj forces him into personal transformation that entirely illuminates the impact of colonialism on a subject people. The novel, owing to the strength of its narrative and its fatally believable realism, hovers on the dark side of modern consciousness, as does much of Kipling. The writer who invented the phrase ¿The White Man¿s Burden¿ is someone many people would like to forget. But one testimony to the ongoing power of Kim is the recent novel The Impressionist by Hari Kunzru, a descant on Kipling¿s narrative of the problem of identity in British India. The fact that an Indian author borrows Kipling¿s idea and shapes a story on Kiplingesque lines is simply testimony to the ongoing authority of this classic.
Dolphins_rock More than 1 year ago
I love Kim!! It is the most amazing book and it touches you. Kim my grandfather wanted me to read it and I have to say I was a little sceptical at first , but it turned out to be asdonding. YOU must read this book and watch the movie with Errol Flynn!! Its is simaler to the book in some was. I am 11 and I love Kim and Rudyard Kiplings books.I would recommend this to someone. I have to my friend Caroline. I also recommed Kim the movie with Errol Flynn it is the best of them all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kim is certainly a classic. It tells the tale of Kim O¿Hara a free spirited Anglo Indian, who adventures across India with his spiritual guide in search of a secret holy river, and is slowly drawn into the world of espionage. Rudyard Kipling aptly describes Kim¿s journey into manhood, beautifully illustrating his experiences, travels and the extraordinary people he meets. The book really captures pre-independence India well, but undeniably seen from the eyes of an colonialist.
Smiler69 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kim O'Hara is an orphan, living in the streets of Lahore, India like countless other unfortunate children. So dark is his skin from his prolonged exposure to the elements, that he has no notion at all that he is a 'sahib', a term used to designate a white man. He meets an elderly Buddhist monk who is on a mission to find the mythical river that has sprouted at the place where Buddha's arrow struck long ago, and Kim decides he must accompany the man and be his disciple, so he can beg for food for and shelter for the frail sage. Kim has his own destiny to fulfill: he must find a red bull in a green field, which will reveal to him great truths. And so the young boy and the old man embark on a long journey together that will take Kim from childhood to the life of an educated young man who is of great use as an agent of the British army, which seeks to keep a firm grasp on it's colonies with the use of spies as on of it's weapons. There are many sympathetic characters along the journey and it's a gripping adventure. But though our protagonist goes through a fascinating journey, I failed to be fully drawn into this story, as in the back of my mind there remained the insistent thought that through it all, Kippling might be upholding colonialism as an ideal and I often wondered whether the author considered the natives in the story fully as human beings or was rather parodying regional stereotypes. For example, with the Buddhist sage's continual references to 'The Way' and 'The Wheel', which must have seemed novel ideas to a Western readership at the beginning of the 20th century, was Kippling simply trying to teach Eastern Philosophy to his readers, or was he using the man's constant proselytizing in mockery? This is a book which would probably profit from a group reading to allow the opportunity for discussion on these matters.
MrsLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A grand adventure, good reading about Colonialism and India.
The_Hibernator on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kim is an orphaned boy living on the streets of Lahore. When he meets a Buddhist monk who is on a quest to find a healing river, Kim joins the lama as his student and friend. Together they travel, learn lessons, and have adventures. I enjoyed watching Kim grow up in this story, and enjoyed the colorful descriptions of the people Kim and the lama met. However, I¿m still trying to figure out what the deeper meaning of this story is. Perhaps time will help.
annbury on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My first Kipling since "The Jungle Book" so many years ago, and not at all what I was expected. As a child, I adored "The Jungle Book", but as an adult I put Kipling firmly into the imperialist/racist category, and expected his work to be mostly imperialist blather. It's not that at all; what really stands out in "Kim", as many other reviewers have noted, is Kipling's passion for India with all its kaleidoscope of peoples, religions, languages, and everything else. A lot of it, of course, does sound imperialist to a 21rst century ear. "Kim" appeared in 1901, and he doesn't question the right of the "sahibs" to rule India. But in the context of the time, some of his attitudes seem remarkably non-imperialist. Some of the least sympathetic characters in the book are British, including a Church of England minister, who, upon meeting Tibetan holy man "looked at him with the triple-ringed uninterest of the creed that lumps nine-tenths of the world under the title 'heathen' " Kipling is not "uninterested" in anything about India; he revels in it in what one reviewer termed "Orientalism". That's a fair criticism, but I don't think that it means that one should forego Kipling. I will certainly read more, after having read "Kim".
jayne_charles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh dear. I tried really really hard to stay with the plot, but it was like being sucked under the water by an extra strong current, and drowning. I just couldn't stay with it, and ended up skimming the last quarter.
petrojoh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You can almost smell the spices of India. Wonderfully descriptive and exotically native.
hemlokgang on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In many ways I think this is the perfect book. First of all, who can resist Kim, himself? A Sahib street-child turned servant to a holy man and at the same time a player in the international intrigue of India in the 1800s, with a lama, a horse trader, a physician/magician, and an entire British regiment as his friends. Politics, spirituality, acceptance, wisdom from all was just a pleasure to read this book!
davidpwhelan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I started this as an e-book and couldn't wait to get a print copy. Kim, short for Kimball O'Hara, is an Irish orphan in India during the Raj who gets up to all sorts of mischief until he meets a holy man, a lama from Tibet. He continues to get up to mischief but his adventures take him out across India, to school, and into contact with all sorts of interesting characters. It's an excellent story and was one of the many books that inspired Baden Powell as he started the Boy Scout movement. The issues relating to religion and caste would be good to discuss with younger (12 and under) readers.
DeltaQueen50 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Published in 1901, Kim by Rudyard Kipling has rightly become a beloved classic over the years. Possessing all the ingredients needed for a grand adventure story, this tale goes a step further with it¿s wondrous descriptive writing and it¿s close look at the India Kipling knew so well. To this is added well defined and interesting characters and a bitter-sweet coming of age plot line. The story revolves around Kimball O¿Hara who, at the beginning of the story, is living as a native orphan on the streets of Lahore. He meets and makes an instant connection with a wandering lama from Tibet. Together they embark upon a journey, both spiritual and actual. Travelling the crowded rails and dusty roads of India, meeting many interesting people along the way. Kim becomes the lamas disciple or ¿chela¿ and his love and respect for the older man grows. That these feelings are returned is obvious as well. Eventually Kim meets up with a company of soldiers from his father¿s Irish Regiment who take him under their wing. With his ability to blend into the native population, he soon finds himself involved in ¿The Great Game¿ as a British agent. High adventure indeed, but for me it was the detailed descriptions of India, the sights, the smells and the people that made this book special. From the crowded marketplace to the dusty plains, Kipling¿s colourful writing brings India to life. Kim is a book that I can see reading over and over again as I believe every read would give you a different perspective. Truly a classic.
Niecierpek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved the characters in this book. As much as I liked this story and the characters I can¿t help but remember that one person¿s heroes are the other person¿s terrorists esp. in times of political and national struggle. Kipling glorifies English occupation of India and even though he has a lot of sympathy for Indian people and a lot of knowledge of Indian castes, ethnicities, religions and customs one has to remember that the English were the invaders and the Great Game was designed to keep everybody in their place. Having said that, I did not care so much about the plot and the intrigue but really fell in love with Kim and the Lama and their friendship. All the other characters and especially Mahboob Ali, Huree Babu as well as the blind prostitute turned body artist were absolutely exquisite as well. I had not read Kipling before and did not realize what good storyteller he was.
Pferdina on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great story about British India. A book like this deserves to be called a classic. The plot involves, Kim, an orphaned boy in Lahore who meets with amazing adventures after falling in with a Tibetan lama in search of a mystical river.
nielspeterqm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perhaps the very core novel of imperialism, widely considered Kipling's masterpiece. For my own part, I was never entirely caught by this difficult merger of 2 genres later considered quite separate: the novel of personal or spiritual development, & the espionage novel. The pure espionage parts however, adding up to about 1/3 of the book, are lively, fresh, in every way original. The ending, which unites & transcends the 2 genres, remains a stroke of genius & skill.
gbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kipling was a very popular author during his life (1865-1936), and Kim (1901) was arguably written at the peak of his career. It tells the story of an orphaned son of an Irish soldier traveling through India, and Kipling was certainly experienced enough to write the tale, having lived there from 1882 to 1889. As the introduction to this volume says, ¿Kipling¿s view of life is a deeply pessimistic one. Not only is man, as he once put it, at war with his surroundings in a world that does not care, but that world itself is without intrinsic order: chaos and anarchy constitute its true moral reality.¿ What better place for this worldview than India, with its harshness, diversity, and chaos. In the story, Kim meets an aged lama and becomes his disciple, and throughout the book there is a duality between Kim¿s humanistic love with the lama spiritual love. The fundamental message Kipling imparts to us is that this duality can never be ¿resolved¿ and will always exist. The novel takes place during what is referred to as ¿The Great Game¿, that is, the political conflict between Russia and Britain in Central Asia at this time, and there is a similar ¿earthly¿ duality between this tension and the better instincts of humanity that is also shown to be unending. Today Kipling stands for the imperialism of the age and he¿s controversial today for having written ¿The White Man¿s Burden¿ (ugh) two years earlier, but it is not for that Kim didn¿t resonate with me. Kim was ¿ok¿ as an adventure story, ¿ok¿ as a cultural study of India, and ¿ok¿ relative to insights into spirituality or the human condition ¿ but not strong enough at any of these for me to recommend it. I think it¿s a bit overrated.Quotes:On religion:"Thou art beyond question an unbeliever, and therefore thou wilt be damned. So says my Law - or I think it does. But thou art also my Little Friend of all the World, and I love thee. So says my heart. This matter of creeds is like horseflesh. The wise man knows horses are good - that there is a profit to be made from all; and for myself - but that I am a good Sunni and hate the men of Tira - I could believe the same of all the Faiths.¿¿Bennett looked at him with the triple-ringed uninterest of the creed that lumps nine-tenths of the world under the title of `heathen¿.¿On eating, and different cultures:¿Certain things are not known to those who eat with forks. It is better to eat with both hands for a while. Speak soft words to those who do not understand this¿¿
thorold on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kim is another of those books that comes with a great deal of baggage: some of it reasonable, some not. It would be great to be able to say simply "this is a great adventure story" and enjoy it on its own terms, but I think the reader has to be aware of at least some of the assumptions Kipling is asking us to make about the world. Penguin clearly don't want us to enjoy the book at all, as their Penguin Modern Classics edition comes with a rather depressing introductory essay and some tediously pedantic notes by the late Edward Said.Is it a great spy story? I don't think so - although I heard Dame Stella Rimington, who may be presumed to know a thing or two about spying in India, talking it up as such on the BBC the other day. Whilst Kim's training with Lurgan Sahib is plausible, Kim's big success against the French and Russian agents is a direct consequence of their incompetence - if they'd taken any sensible precautions against counter-espionage at all, Kim and his friends would never have been able to foil their dastardly plans. Some of the tradecraft Kim is taught seems a bit suspect too - what intelligence organisation would be daft enough to give all of its agents a common recognition signal? One traitor would be enough to blow the whole organisation.Is it a handbook for military adventures on the North-West frontier? If that's how it is being used, it might explain the current lack of progress of NATO forces in Afghanistan. Anyone who's read Peter Hopkirk's books knows that by the time Kim was written, the danger of Russian incursions into India and Afghanistan, if it ever existed, was long past. There was, as there always has been, unrest among some of the Muslim communities in the area, but Kipling doesn't tell us anything about that. Kipling's view of the Great Game is a fantasy, and probably has more to do with the costly and unsuccessful colonial war of the moment (South Africa) than with India.Is it a primer in basic Buddhism? Probably not. There is no coherent explanation of what Buddhists actually believe, or why. We do get glimpses of the way the lama's religious beliefs help him to deal with concrete situations, but we are led to attribute his qualities to his own strength of character, as much as to his Buddhism. He is really a kind of generic holy man - he would be just as plausible if he were a Baptist or a Benedictine.Is it imperialist? Yes, of course it is. Kipling was firmly convinced that it was the duty of the British to run India, because he felt that they could do a better job than anyone else. This was a minority view (especially in Britain itself), but it was considered a perfectly respectable political standpoint at the time, and Kipling at least had some experience of the realities of colonial India from his time as a journalist. Said is right, of course, to draw attention to the way that Kipling selectively shows us Indians who support the British Raj, and ignores other viewpoints.Is it racist? Certainly, although the passages Said draws attention to are mostly just evidence of a failure to distinguish between racial and cultural characteristics, which is common to most writers of the period. Kipling compensates for this laziness to a large extent by the way the two most important Indian characters, Mahbub Ali and the Babu, are drawn as individuals who transcend racial stereotypes (in fact, both of them are conscious of the way Europeans stereotype them, and exploit this perception for their own ends). However, in the case of Kim, we have someone who as grown up to all intents and purposes in an Indian cultural environment, having lost his European parents at a very young age, but who nevertheless has a special destiny because of his racial origins. I don't think we can absolve Kipling of racism on this point: on the other hand, it is an assumption Kipling pushes so far into the foreground that I don't see how any modern reader of the book could fail to be conscious of it: it's simp
rizeandshine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kim is a tale of spies and espionage, which I normally love, but I found the English vernacular difficult to follow and I think over-the-top, which made it a bit of a chore to read rather than pure enjoyment. The story itself is exciting and I did enjoy Kipling's passion for India, where he was born and raised, and its people. In this novel, he truly celebrates the rich diversity, sights, sounds and flavors of the country.
akreese on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I know a lot of people really like this book, but for some reason I have never been able to make it through the whole thing. I read a little bit and then lose interest. Maybe someday I will give it another try.
mmillet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my dad's favorite book and he has been telling me to read this one for years. I loved the relationship aspect of this story. Kim's attachment to the Lama and vice-versa is truly inspiring. I also loved Kim's resourcefulness, he takes any situation and comes out on top. I understand now why my dad has to go back every few years to read it.
bzedan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I missed Kim when I was reading Kipling as a kid. I really like this, part spy and adventure story, part spiritual quest. There is something soothing about how Kipling writes, and he writes such great and real characters, full of flaws and charm.
Ibreak4books on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"must" reading for anyone living in 2007. Besides the wonderful content, there is Kipling's minimal style, which I love: beautifully crafted sentences with something left for the reader to put in.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a book I read many years ago and enjoyed, and I think being a teenager helped my enjoyment. Re-reading as an adult, and with more knowledge of the world changes my view a bit, though a lot of the issues I had were more to do with the era of the book rather than the actual story itself.Yes there are very few female characters of note. Yes it's a time when the British Raj were in charge in India and one of their major issues was the possible incursion of Russia or France (or Russia and France) from Afghanistan. But still this story of an Irish orphan being trained to do work for the powers that be as part of the Great Game played by people in order to manage the country. His ability to be different people helps the situation immensely. I must say that as a kid I enjoyed the adventure but now I enjoyed the details and having just read the Skull Mantra the difference in acceptance of Tibetan monks and the casual way in which the imperial system is accepted as being for the "betterment" of the "natives" is an interesting look into the past.