Most helpful positive review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
ignore agendas, resist the New System
on January 10, 2003
I wonder if Kipling's most vitriolic critics have read anything about him (or by him) besides caustic post-colonial dissertations. Surely they can't pretend that they've read KIM with silly labels such as "imperialistic," "ignorant," "globalizing," and "racist." I advise these misguided flowers to read without agendas.
But of course reading without agendas nowadays would so offend our academies that it's absolutely impossible. KIM *is* a simple story, as one reviewer already mentioned, that does not really deal with colonial "assumptions" whatsoever. In fact, I marvel at how people ignore the basic fact that Kim resisted his Sahib identity when we could only sympathize with him. Kim contrasts well with THE JUNGLE BOOK'S Mowgli because he disdains most social groups, preferring above all his lama and "the road." If anything, his "yearning" toward colonization near the book's end (itself dubiously proven) probably reflects his educational indoctrination, if anything else. Kipling surely wasn't a stupid writer, and it's probably no coincidence that Kim turns to colonialism only after the Sahibs educate and recruit him in "the Great Game." Whether that's good or bad is irrelevant; Kipling does not justify, advocate or endorse colonialism in KIM. Nor does he waste space needlessly attacking it. Why do people need fiction to contain ideology? Why can't people understand that some stories are about characters and that authors imposing their voices is sometimes unnecessary? "Adult" perspectives in the novel, which critics charge could never come from Kim, come from adult characters. Duh. Kipling, unlike his postmodern butchers, did not write with an agenda.
Unfortunately for his reputation, Kipling professed elsewhere that he favored colonialism and the White Man's Burden. Readers, even more unfortunately, approach his books with such prejudices, prepared to pounce on his literature at the slightest provocation and blame him for not explicitly condemning British imperialism. I'm sorry that people hold such depressing views of how fiction should be written.
A note on the Penguin edition: I found its CONSTANT "scholastic" footnotes irritating and insulting. I can read a book without being told what Buddhism is, thanks. Then again, all those numbers detract from the story itself and advocate the editor's agenda that this book isn't to be enjoyed at all, but only to be jeered at in a postmodern armpit.