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Kim (Bibliolife Reproduction) Hardcover – July 18, 2009
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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 Audible Audio Edition edition.
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. Grades 5-8. --Francisca Goldsmith --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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Kim is taken into the custody of his father's old regiment, forcing him to realize his status as a sahib. He takes this arrangement in stride partly because he is curious and willing to learn what the whites have to offer but also he knows and proves that he can leave when he wills to. What he learns is the elements and tricks of The Game, a term even in the 19th century for the espionage business.
With the lama who is still searching for his river, Kim travels into the mountains north and west of the Punjab were they encounter rival spies working for the Russians who have a State interest in Afghanistan and India. Both Kim and the lama come to harm; Kim takes responsibility for the old man's health and safety and brings him to a friend's home off the mountains where they both can heal.
Before the story closes, both recognize they have found what they are searching for and found each other too
Rudyard Kipling is well known as an author of boys' adventure stories, and while Kim can be read as such by younger readers it is much more than that. Traditional views of Kipling, that he was an apologist for the British Empire who despised the "lesser races" that made it up, are likewise not entirely just. In this novel he brings many threads together, with India a sort of third character -- a complex India with many ethnicities and cultures living in close proximity under the benevolent rule of the British Raj. His encyclopedic knowledge of those many cultures comes out with incredible wealth of detail, as well as frequent use of words borrowed from Farsi, Sanscrit, Hindi, and Arabic, some of which have since become part of the English language, but many of which will be new to the American reader. If you haven't read Kim yet, you should -- it's entertaining and also has a humanistic and moral theme -- that humans are more alike than different, -- just like the Ballad of East and West.
This particular version has a helpful Foreword by an English professor that brings out the scholarly view of the work. Type is legible for a paperback of only slightly more than "pocketbook" size. The only criticism I have of the production of the book is that footnotes at the bottom of each page, properly numbered, would have given an appropriate Victorian feel to the book as well as being much easier on the reader. As it is, all those unfamiliar words have to be looked up in the back of the book, requiring much riffling through pages, and even then, they aren't divided up by chapter, but under page number headings.