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In Rudyard Kipling's 1901 novel Kim, a young Irish orphan's intelligence and ability to make friends allow him to get by on the streets of a busy Indian village. British colonialism is at its height, and India is full of a vibrant mix of people from East and West. Although Kim has a natural way of blending in with his surroundings, he also seems marked for a special destiny. The curious boy joins a Tibetan lama on a major spiritual quest along the Grand Trunk Road, a bustling thoroughfare in constant use by natives and imperial troops. As he and the lama make their way, Kim is spotted by British military forces. The soldiers give Kim the important task of delivering an important letter to a commander in another town. Kim's mission is successful, but at heart he remains true to his spiritual guide, wanting to see him through his journey. Kim's path seems fated never to be a simple one, however. He is discovered once again, this time by a former acquaintance of his father's. Thinking they know what is best for him, the British send Kim to an exclusive academy far away, sure that the boy will someday make an excellent spy. Kim is torn between the expectations that his British compatriots hold for him and his heartfelt desire to help the lama complete his quest. Kipling's novel is a dazzling portrayal of a volatile period in Indian history, as seen through the eyes of a mysterious hero struggling to bridge two very different cultures.
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Rudyard Kipling (1855-1936) was born to English parents living in India during the British colonial occupation. Kipling's father was a sculptor and art professor at a college in Bombay, and his mother was a lively and intelligent woman. While India had already made a powerful impression on the young Kipling, he was soon sent to live and receive his education in England. Kipling was unable to attend university and instead chose to return to the land of his birth, serving as an assistant editor at a small Indian newspaper for several years. It was at this time that Kipling began to publish short stories in the paper, soon following his occasional pieces with several collections of his writing. Kipling traveled to the United States and wrote as a foreign correspondent for the Indian press, continuing to develop his reputation and craft. He settled in London for a time, although it was not until after his marriage and eventual move back to the United States that he began to write the works for which he is best known: The Jungle Book and Captains Courageous among them. As Kipling continued to travel and write, he gained a broad following among old and young. He was widely celebrated as an important author, receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907 and continuing to be awarded many honors for his writing throughout the rest of his life. While Kipling's works have fallen in and out of favor for their perspectives, his writing serves as an important testament to a time of change, conflict, and broadening horizons.Back to top
Opening Lines (Experimental)
O ye who tread the Narrow Way By Tophet-flare to judgment Day, Be gentle when 'the heathen' pray To Buddha at Kamakura!
Buddha at Kamakura.
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 ...
Reviewed by lostpenny on Aug 5, 2009
Not what I was expecting exactly, but I was almost instantly charmed and intrigued by this story. Fascinating look into old-world India.
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Ratings for 'Kim' by Kipling, Rudyard