20th Century Kim Paperback – Mar 1 1990
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One of the particular pleasures of reading Kim is the full range of emotion, knowledge, and experience that Rudyard Kipling gives his complex hero. Kim O'Hara, the orphaned son of an Irish soldier stationed in India, is neither innocent nor victimized. Raised by an opium-addicted half-caste woman since his equally dissolute father's death, the boy has grown up in the streets of Lahore:
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.From his father and the woman who raised him, Kim has come to believe that a great destiny awaits him. The details, however, are a bit fuzzy, consisting as they do of the woman's addled prophecies of "'a great Red Bull on a green field, and the Colonel riding on his tall horse, yes, and'--dropping into English--'nine hundred devils.'"
In the meantime, Kim amuses himself with intrigues, executing "commissions by night on the crowded housetops for sleek and shiny young men of fashion." His peculiar heritage as a white child gone native, combined with his "love of the game for its own sake," makes him uniquely suited for a bigger game. And when, at last, the long-awaited colonel comes along, Kim is recruited as a spy in Britain's struggle to maintain its colonial grip on India. Kipling was, first and foremost, a man of his time; born and raised in India in the 19th century, he was a fervid supporter of the Raj. Nevertheless, his portrait of India and its people is remarkably sympathetic. Yes, there is the stereotypical Westernized Indian Babu Huree Chander with his atrocious English, but there is also Kim's friend and mentor, the Afghani horse trader Mahub Ali, and the gentle Tibetan lama with whom Kim travels along the Grand Trunk Road. The humanity of his characters consistently belies Kipling's private prejudices, and raises Kim above the mere ripping good yarn to the level of a timeless classic. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
"I highly recommend Campfire’s comics. They do what they are intended to do and do it in a way that excites kids about classic literature."
— Chris Wilson, The Graphic Classroom (a resource for teachers and librarians) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I hope some young people will read all the positive reviews and pick up the book and have a great time. No Stephen King or Dean Koontz wrote this. A wonderfully narrated book of a time that is not coming back. The language is smooth as flowing honey and the Indian words are used with the skill of one born and brought up there (Kipling was later sent to England to complete his schooling).
Enjoyable even after years and years.
I would recommend to buy the hardcover (Everyman Library) edition. A bargain at Amazon's prices
Kim is the story of two journies, certainly the holy man's as well as Kim's own, the reckoning with cultural identity and the east/west clash in a time of subterfuge and war. It is really a quite powerful story, dulled down at times by the author's seemingly ceaseless wonder, but for a tale marketed as being about a white European lost in the maze of turn-of-the-century India, there is a great deal that is very contemporary and an enormous amount of action and even betrayal.
Give it a go and read it to your kids. There are many valuable life lessons Kipling makes an attempt to teach and many wrong paths he explains to us all about taking.
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.Read more ›
How this book is read in a 'post-colonial' era is an interesting question. It would be easy, and wrong, to dismiss this book merely as an Imperialist tract, though Kipling clearly supported British Imperial control. It is even wronger to attack Kipling's racism, though there are unquestionably stereotyped elements present. In many ways, Kim is a celebration of India's ethnic and religous diversity. Probably the most unsympathetic characters in the book are not Indian, but Britishers with provincial outlooks. Kipling's support of the Empire is rather more subtle. It is clear that he viewed the existence of the huge and relatively tolerant polyglot society that was the Raj as the result of relatively benign British rule and protection. This is probably true. Without British overlordship, India is likely to have been a congeries of competing states riven by ethnic and religous divisions. Where Kipling is profoundly misleading is what he leaves out, particularly the economic exploitation India and crucial role India played in the Imperial economy.
Most recent customer reviews
There were quite a few errors in formatting the text, which is why I gave it 3 stars rather than higher. Read morePublished on July 7 2014 by aquinas
Good quality. Great to use in scouting programs. Prompt delivery. An excellent read for bed time at any TimberWolf Scout or Cub Scout camp.Published on Jan. 26 2014 by Mary R. Fisher
This is the third time I've read this in my 60 plus years. I enjoy it and get a little more out of it every time. Read morePublished on Nov. 9 2013 by F. Gorosh
Am I missing something here? Apparently. I found Kipling's writing extremely stilted and archaic, in a bad way (not in a say, Shakespeare way). Read morePublished on Oct. 25 2003 by P. Costello
Some say Kipling was an imperialist. Some say he was an Indophile. I think he was both at the same time. Read morePublished on Oct. 15 2003 by Tana Shah
The tale is a classic adventure story, of Kim, Irish orphan growing up as a street urchin in northern India. Read morePublished on Aug. 18 2003 by A Yong
The orphaned son of a British Army officer learns the way of the streets of India, where he acts as a courier, and sometimes a spy, for locals who are in the pay of the British as... Read morePublished on July 25 2003 by S Smyth