Thursday, August 14, 2008

KIM by Rudyard Kipling

Kim is Rudyard Kipling’s novel about a white orphan, Kimball O’Hara, in India. It was first published in 1901, and is often considered to be Kipling’s best novel. In the novel, Kim befriends a Tibetan Lama and becomes his disciple. Later, the British force him to attend a British school. Afterward, he rejoins the Lama, and becomes involved in political intrigue between Britain and Russia.

Kim is noteworthy for Kipling’s lush depictions of India, its people, its culture, and its religions. In spite of everything that goes on in this novel, there’s no real plot – it’s just Kim’s wanderings around India. And this is the vehicle Kipling uses to celebrate India. This is well and good, but it isn’t all that interesting. The story loses quite a lot of steam after Kim gets into British custody. Perhaps the story holds more allure for those of us who have not been to India (I have, several times).

Ultimately, this is about as good a portrayal of India as you can find in a novel. That is what this book should be read for, not its story.