Cover image for Kim
Kipling, Rudyard, 1865-1936.
Publication Information:
Wickford, RI : North Books, 1998.
Physical Description:
317 pages ; 22 cm
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Reared in the teeming streets of India at the turn of the century, the orphan Kim is the "Friend of all the World", an imp with an endless interest in the extraordinary characters he meets daily. One of them, an old Tibetan lama, sets him on the path that will lead him to travel the Great Trunk Road and become a spy for the British. Copyright © Libri GmbH. All rights reserved.

Author Notes

Kipling, who as a novelist dramatized the ambivalence of the British colonial experience, was born of English parents in Bombay and as a child knew Hindustani better than English. He spent an unhappy period of exile from his parents (and the Indian heat) with a harsh aunt in England, followed by the public schooling that inspired his "Stalky" stories. He returned to India at 18 to work on the staff of the Lahore Civil and Military Gazette and rapidly became a prolific writer. His mildly satirical work won him a reputation in England, and he returned there in 1889. Shortly after, his first novel, The Light That Failed (1890) was published, but it was not altogether successful.

In the early 1890s, Kipling met and married Caroline Balestier and moved with her to her family's estate in Brattleboro, Vermont. While there he wrote Many Inventions (1893), The Jungle Book (1894-95), and Captains Courageous (1897). He became dissatisfied with life in America, however, and moved back to England, returning to America only when his daughter died of pneumonia. Kipling never again returned to the United States, despite his great popularity there.

Short stories form the greater portion of Kipling's work and are of several distinct types. Some of his best are stories of the supernatural, the eerie and unearthly, such as "The Phantom Rickshaw," "The Brushwood Boy," and "They." His tales of gruesome horror include "The Mark of the Beast" and "The Return of Imray." "William the Conqueror" and "The Head of the District" are among his political tales of English rule in India. The "Soldiers Three" group deals with Kipling's three musketeers: an Irishman, a Cockney, and a Yorkshireman. The Anglo-Indian Tales, of social life in Simla, make up the larger part of his first four books.

Kipling wrote equally well for children and adults. His best-known children's books are Just So Stories (1902), The Jungle Books (1894-95), and Kim (1901). His short stories, although their understanding of the Indian is often moving, became minor hymns to the glory of Queen Victoria's empire and the civil servants and soldiers who staffed her outposts. Kim, an Irish boy in India who becomes the companion of a Tibetan lama, at length joins the British Secret Service, without, says Wilson, any sense of the betrayal of his friend this actually meant. Nevertheless, Kipling has left a vivid panorama of the India of his day.

In 1907, Kipling became England's first Nobel Prize winner in literature and the only nineteenth-century English poet to win the Prize. He won not only on the basis of his short stories, which more closely mirror the ambiguities of the declining Edwardian world than has commonly been recognized, but also on the basis of his tremendous ability as a popular poet. His reputation was first made with Barrack Room Ballads (1892), and in "Recessional" he captured a side of Queen Victoria's final jubilee that no one else dared to address.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Rudyard Kipling's adventure novel is luminously visualized in this adaptation. The story line remains true to the original and follows Kim as he departs from his boyhood home with a Buddhist lama and embarks on adventures as a boy spy. Kumar's watercolor scenes and expressions lend authentic views of Kim's moods as well as his surroundings. However, this is more illustrated classic than graphic novel, as aside from the visual scenery, little is left for the images to convey that isn't spoken by the text. Accessible and continuing to be a story of interest, this book nonetheless has a place in most collections serving classics. A bit of front matter sets the story's context against the author's own life, and a bit of back matter provides interesting details about spy tools of the era.--Goldsmith, Francisca Copyright 2010 Booklist



From Jeffrey Meyers's Introduction to Kim In Kim , Kipling creates an exotic atmosphere, full of vivid characters and incidents, and immediately draws the reader into his strange world. The novel concerns a religious quest and a quest for identity, and includes both enlightenment and espionage, tranquillity and violence. It combines social, cultural, and political history with the hardships and goal of a travel book. Like Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha (1922), Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge (l944), and Iris Murdoch's The Sea, the Sea (1978), it is one of the rare European novels with a Buddhist theme. Kim and the lama, Dharma Bums on the Road, foreshadow the sprawling works of Jack Kerouac. Maugham, a great admirer of Kipling, wrote that he gives you "the tang of the East, the smell of the bazaars, the torpor of the rains, the heat of the sun-scorched earth, the rough life of the barracks."10 Kipling achieved his brilliant effects by combining his two great themes, childhood and India, and by creating a bountiful array of characters, subtle modulations of style and speech, and a carefully wrought structure that controls the series of fortuitous encounters and picaresque adventures. Kim, the orphaned son of a drunken Irish sergeant and a nursemaid mother, has been brought up by a Eurasian opium eater, given free run of the narrow streets and back alleys of Lahore, and become completely assimilated to Indian life. The rainbow coalition of indigenous teachers, who lead him to his true identity and real vocation, are increasingly Europeanized; his English teachers, who train him as a spy, are increasingly sophisticated and significant. The Tibetan Buddhist lama rejects the world and searches for salvation. Mahbub Ali, the Afghan Muslim horse trader, works with the English but retains his traditional customs. Hurree Chunder Mookerjee, the Hindu Bengali and "semi-anglicized product of our Indian colleges,"11 tries to adopt British behavior and speech. The Protestant and Catholic clergymen, Mr. Bennett and Father Victor, try to co-opt Kim into their religions. Lurgan, English but born in India, tests Kim and trains him for the Great Game of espionage. Colonel Creighton, a secret agent masquerading as an ethnologist (Kim, an expert on castes and keen on mimicry, is himself an amateur ethnologist), recognizes Kim's unique potential and exploits his rare talents. Kim asks: "'What am I? Mussalman, Hindu, Jain, or Buddhist?'" and is none of the above. But in a brief, touching scene he combines the British, Muslim, Buddhist, and Jain elements in his character and culture and forgets "even the Great Game as he stooped, Mohammedan fashion, to touch his master's feet in the dust of the Jain temple". Kim and each of his native mentors have a different and quite idiosyncratic way of speaking. Kipling vividly conveys the flavor of vernacular speech and the formulaic repetitions of unlettered folk by using traditional proverbs and archaic diction from the seventeenth-century English of the King James Bible and Shakespeare. The lama keeps repeating the same solemn banalities in a singsong cadence: "'They are all bound upon the Wheel. . . . Bound from life after life. To none of these has the Way been shown'". Mahbub Ali's declamatory phrases express his hearty ruffianism: "'God's curse on all unbelievers! Beg from those of my tail who are of thy faith.'" The babu Hurree, pompous and slightly absurd, drops his definite articles, mispronounces long words, and misuses English idioms: "'I am of opeenion that it is most extraordinary and effeecient performance. Except that you had told me I should have opined that--that--that you were pulling my legs.'" The seductive Woman of Shamlegh speaks with languid insinuations: "'I do not love Sahibs, but thou wilt make us a charm in return for it. We do not wish little Shamlegh to get a bad name.'" Kim shifts from stilted English before his formal education: "'Every month I become a year more old,'" to old-fashioned schoolboy slang after he's been to St. Xavier's: "'By Jove! . . . This is a dam'-tight place.'" T. S. Eliot observed the contrast between Kipling's portrayal of native characters in the early stories and in Kim : There are two strata in Kipling's appreciation of India, the stratum of the child and that of the young man. It was the latter who observed the British in India and wrote the rather cocky and rather acid tales of Delhi and Simla, but it was the former who loved the country and its people. . . . The Indian characters have the greater reality because they are treated with the understanding of love. . . . It is the four great Indian characters in Kim who are real: the Lama [not Indian], Mahbub Ali, Hurree Chunder Mookerjee, and the wealthy widow from the North. Excerpted from Kim by Rudyard Kipling All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Rudyard KiplingCharles CarringtonJ. H. MillarWilliam Morton PayneArthur Bartlett MauriceBlair B. KlingAnn ParryNoel AnnanIrving HoweEdward W. SaidIan BaucomA. Michael MatinJohn A. McClureMichael HollingtonParama RoySara SuleriPatrick WilliamsSuvir KaulMark Kinkead-WeekesZohreh T. Sullivan
Prefacep. vii
The Text of Kimp. 1
Backgroundsp. 241
Map: North India 1857p. 243
Map: Modern Indiap. 244
Map: The Grand Trunk Roadp. 245
Short Stories
Lispethp. 247
To Be Filed for Referencep. 252
Recessionalp. 259
The White Man's Burdenp. 260
To Margaret Burne-Jones, [27] September 1885p. 263
To Margaret Burne-Jones, 28 November 1885-11 January 1886p. 266
To E. K. Robinson, 30 April 1886p. 270
To Margaret Burne-Jones, 3 May-24 June 1886p. 271
Autobiography and Biography
From Something of Myselfp. 273
[The Origins of Kim]p. 278
Contemporary Reviews
[A 'New Kipling']p. 283
[Mr. Kipling's Enthralling New Novel]p. 284
Rudyard Kipling's Kimp. 285
The Nobel Prize for Literature, 1907p. 290
Historical Context
Kim in Historical Contextp. 297
[Recovering the Connection Between Kim and Contemporary History]p. 309
Criticismp. 321
Kipling's Place in the History of Ideasp. 323
The Pleasures of Kimp. 328
[Kim as Imperialist Novel]p. 337
[The Survey of India]p. 351
Kim, Invasion-Scare Literature, and the Russian Threat to British Indiap. 358
[Kipling's Richest Dream]p. 375
[Storytelling in Kim]p. 384
[Kim, the Myth of the Nation, and National Identity]p. 393
[Kim's Colonial Education]p. 406
Kim and Orientalismp. 410
Kim, or How to Be Young, Male, and British in Kipling's Indiap. 426
[The Ending of Kim]p. 436
What Happens at the End of Kim?p. 441
Rudyard Kipling: A Chronologyp. 453
Selected Bibliographyp. 457