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Kim (1901)

by Rudyard Kipling

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,162186873 (3.83)3 / 552
Filled with lyrical, exotic prose and nostalgia for Rudyard Kipling's native India, "Kim" is widely acknowledged as the author's greatest novel and a key element in his winning the 1907 Nobel Prize in Literature. It is the tale of an orphaned sahib and the burdensome fate that awaits him when he is unwittingly dragged into the Great Game of Imperialism. During his many adventures, he befriends a sage old Tibetan lama who transforms his life. As Pankaj Mishra asserts in his Introduction, "To read the novel now is to notice the melancholy wisdom that accompanies the native boy's journey through a broad and open road to the narrow duties of the white man's world: how the deeper Buddhist idea of the illusion of the self, of time and space, makes bearable for him the anguish of abandoning his childhood."… (more)
  1. 61
    Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling (John_Vaughan)
  2. 50
    Quest for Kim: In Search of Kipling's Great Game by Peter Hopkirk (DuncanHill)
    DuncanHill: Hopkirk follows Kim's travels across India, exploring the places and the historical events and people which inspired Kipling.
  3. 31
    The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye (MarthaJeanne)
    MarthaJeanne: I think that Ash in Far Pavillions was based partly on Kim. Both books deal with the ambivalence between cultures of those who were brought up in a different culture to the one they belonged to by birth and later education. Both are also great adventure stories that take place during the British Raj in India. The big difference being that Kim only deals with childhood, but Ash has to go on to life as an adult.… (more)
  4. 31
    Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Another orphan meets a helpful older man with a mission
  5. 10
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Orphaned kid with plenty of street-smarts embarks on a dangerous journey interwoven with high-stakes matters from the adult world (Slavery/Russo-British Espionage).
  6. 21
    About a Boy by Nick Hornby (melmore)
  7. 00
    Carnets du Yoga n° 1 - Janvier 1979 by Collectif (Joop-le-philosophe)
  8. 11
    The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: More spying and skulduggery
  9. 22
    Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (Gregorio_Roth)
    Gregorio_Roth: The book is a modern interpretation of KIM in a number of ways. I think it will complete your point of view on Imperialism and India.
  10. 01
    The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia by Peter Hopkirk (Tanya-dogearedcopy)
    Tanya-dogearedcopy: Narrative NF which lays out the geopolitical background of Great Britain’s interest in Central & South Asia in the 19th century
  11. 12
    The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch (thorold)
    thorold: Two books that demonstrate that it's possible to use a Buddhist holy man to power the plot of a complex modern novel without getting all mystical and Hermann Hesse.
  12. 12
    Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Both these books feature cunning, clever spies who speak several languages and can pass for several different nationalities - they are also both great adventures.
Asia (79)
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English (176)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (186)
Showing 1-5 of 176 (next | show all)
I first picked up Kim in 2005. Young me was not able to finish it and ultimately surrendered to other novels.

Now 17 years later I finally sat down on a two-day marathon read of Kipling's Kim, the tale of British India's very own Oliver Twist.

The Dickensonian influence is prevalent throughout Kim but it is tampered with an underlying rawness. A subtle indication that life's darkness is around the corner. Young Kim with his Llama reflects the synthesis of youth and age; journeying through a joyless world afflicted by trauma. Developing as he progresses. A far cry from the statically Cherubic Twist.

Kim's past galvanizes his present. From being adopted by the Irish Mavericks to being trained in espionage and entering the great game, his journey is as tantalizing as mystical.

With a colorful riot of characters ranging from sharp shooting Mahbub Ali, father-of-fools Creighton, Huree Babu to the intimidating Khalsa Akali Kim is as much an immersion in the subcontinent's soul as it is in Teshoo Llama's Utopian quest.

Five stars for such an amazingly ageless and succinct novel. ( )
  Amarj33t_5ingh | Jul 8, 2022 |
A mistake. Rudyard Kipling is a seriously unfashionable writer nowadays, but I'd enjoyed my only previous encounter with him (The Man Who Would Be King and Other Stories) so I was keen to try his classic adventure novel, Kim. Unfortunately, the story has aged very, very poorly.

I'm not referring to the outdated worldview or language (which are common criticisms of Kipling), and to be honest those features are not much in evidence in Kim. But Kipling's qualities, durable in the small doses of his short stories, are exposed in this long-form novel format. The thread of the plot, hard to gauge from the start, disintegrates badly during the hard miles of the prose, which is far too busy and chock-a-block with redundant dialogue and baseless noodling. Characterisation is similarly poor; the titular Kim never rises beyond a sketch, and his relationship with the lama lacks camaraderie or affection. The espionage plot-line (Kim popularised the term 'the Great Game') is surprisingly lacking in intrigue – that is, on the rare occasions when the reader can make heads or tails out of what is going on. For an adventure novel – for any novel, in fact – this is dull.

The only creditable part of Kim is its recreation of the "roaring whirl of India" during British rule (pg. 149); in this respect, and only in this respect, the fact that the book has aged poorly is a boon. With its dialects and rituals and its general chaotic portrayal of the subcontinent, it has value as a time capsule. "India was awake, and Kim was in the middle of it" (pg. 95), and this, in truth, is the only lasting appeal of the book.

There's little of literary merit to the novel; this is a boy's book (albeit a dull and needlessly complicated one) and its attempt to reach higher is clumsy. There is a lot of mysticism in the novel – with the lama who Kim accompanies seeking to free himself from the 'Wheel of Things' by finding a legendary 'River' – but it's all very shallow and unearned, despite Kipling's attempts to add some woo-woo resonance by capitalising words like 'Road', 'Search', 'Hills' and 'Sea'. The only point of recommendation remains the book's capture of some of the flavours of India, but as Kim himself says, "that is kichree – vegetable curry" (pg. 231), and I was left craving a bit more meat. ( )
6 vote MikeFutcher | Apr 26, 2022 |
4/26/22
  laplantelibrary | Apr 26, 2022 |
Recall this read but did not record a comment at the time (such were those busy motherhood + career days). A still respected tale long after it's publication in 1901, for its portrayal of India and the uneasiness of the British Raj ( )
  MGADMJK | Apr 19, 2022 |
It just didn't hold my interest. I found that I didn't care what happened to Kim. I wasn't interested in seeing where it was going. ( )
  nx74defiant | Mar 24, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 176 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (83 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kipling, Rudyardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Biseo, CesareCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carrington, Charles EdmundIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cohen, MortonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cooper, SusanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cosham, RalphNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dastor, SamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hilton, MargaretNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacques, RobinIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kipling, John LockwoodIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meyers, JeffreyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Millar, H. R.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mishra, PankajIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reisiger, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rolland, VéroniqueCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Said, Edward W.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sandison, AlanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serra, RenatoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sharma, MadhavNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vincenzi, FioraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vogenauer, E. R.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weeks, Edwin LordCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Oh ye who tread the Narrow Way

By Tophet-flare to Judgment Day,

Be gentle when the heathen pray

To Buddha at Kamakura!
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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Filled with lyrical, exotic prose and nostalgia for Rudyard Kipling's native India, "Kim" is widely acknowledged as the author's greatest novel and a key element in his winning the 1907 Nobel Prize in Literature. It is the tale of an orphaned sahib and the burdensome fate that awaits him when he is unwittingly dragged into the Great Game of Imperialism. During his many adventures, he befriends a sage old Tibetan lama who transforms his life. As Pankaj Mishra asserts in his Introduction, "To read the novel now is to notice the melancholy wisdom that accompanies the native boy's journey through a broad and open road to the narrow duties of the white man's world: how the deeper Buddhist idea of the illusion of the self, of time and space, makes bearable for him the anguish of abandoning his childhood."

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141332506, 0141442379, 0141199970

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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Urban Romantics

An edition of this book was published by Urban Romantics.

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Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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