Kim is a novel by Rudyard Kipling. It was first published serially in McClure's Magazine from December 1900 to October 1901 as well as in Cassell's Magazine from January to November 1901, and first published in book form by MacMillan & Co. Ltd in October 1901. The story is set against the backdrop of The Great Game, the political conflict between Russia and Britain in Central Asia. It is set after the Second Afghan War which ended in 1881, but before the Third, perhaps in the 1890s.
The novel is notable for its detailed portrait of Indian people, culture, and its varied religions. It is generally considered by critics to be Kipling's best serious long novel.
Kim (Kimball O'Hara) is the orphaned son of an Irish soldier. He earns his living by begging and running small errands on the streets of Lahore. He occasionally works for his friend, Mahbub Ali, a horse trader who is one of the native operatives of the British secret service.
One day, he befriends an aged Tibetan Lama who is on a quest to free himself from the Wheel of Things by finding the legendary 'River of the Arrow'. Kim becomes his chela, or disciple, and accompanies him on his journey. On the way, Kim incidentally learns about parts of the Great Game and is recruited by the British to carry a message to the British commander in Umballa. Kim's trip with the Lama along the Grand Trunk Road is the first great adventure in the novel.
By chance, Kim's father's regimental chaplain identifies him by his Masonic certificate, which he wears around his neck and Kim is forcibly separated from the Lama, although the Lama insists to Kim that he should comply with the chaplains plan because he believes it is in Kims best interest, and sent to a top English school in Lucknow. The Lama insists on funding Kim's education and Kim remains in contact with him through his years at school. Kim also stays in contact with his secret service connections and is trained in espionage while on vacation from school, by Lurgan Sahib at his jewellery shop in Simla. For example, he looks at a tray full of mixed objects and notes which have been added or taken away; a pastime still called "Kim's Game".
After three years of schooling, Kim is given a government appointment so that he can begin his role in the Great Game. Before this appointment begins, however, he is granted time to take a much-deserved break. Kim rejoins the Lama and, at the behest of Kim's superior Hurree Chunder Mookherjee, they make a trip to the Himalayas. Here the espionage and spiritual threads of the story collide, with the Lama unwittingly falling into conflict with Russian intelligence agents. Kim obtains maps, papers, and other important items from the Russians -- who were working to undermine British control of the region. Mookherjee befriends the Russians under cover, acting as a guide and ensures that they do not recover the lost items. Kim, aided by some porters and villagers, help to rescue the Lama ....
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Books You Haven't Read But Should: Kim By Rudyard Kipling
Posted by M. Christian