Kim
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Kim

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  16,881 ratings  ·  865 reviews
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 stree...more
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Published (first published 1901)
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Laurie
Kim served as inspiration for my novel "The Game", the seventh entry in the Mary Russell series. Feel free to come and join in the discussion, even if you come across this after December has passed--the discussion will remain open indefinitely for new thoughts and comments. Click for more information about the Virtual Book Club

Oh, this is such a wonderful book. Coming-of-age tale and historical treatise; spy thriller and travel narrative; rousing adventure coupled with a sleek and subtle tale o...more
Michael
This coming of age tale had a lot of charm in many spots, but too often was a bit slow for my tastes. Kim O’Hara is a 12-year old orphan in Lahore in the 1850’s, child of an Irish soldier and Indian mother. Despite the loss of both parents he thrives well as a street urchin, always finding a way to make himself useful to community members or to engage sympathy from strangers and thus able to earn or beg his daily keep. His life opens up when he assists a Tibetan lama on a pilgrimage and joins hi...more
Henry Avila
Kim ,13,a lonely, British orphan. Born in India.His widowed father.Was in Queen Victoria's army.But he died, a hopeless drunk.Kim's full name,is Kimball O'Hara. The poorest of the poor.Who lives mostly, in the slum streets, of Lahore.The Punjab(now part of Pakistan).Sometimes the boy, stays with an old Indian woman. Addicted to opium.Naturally, he prefers the outside.Begging for money.Trying to stay alive and surviving, day to day...Later meeting a strange Lama. From faraway Tibet. While playing...more
James
While it is one of the most beautiful tales of friendship I have ever read, Kim is much more. Rudyard Kipling created in Kim a novel in the mold of the classic heroic journey that has a pedigree reaching back to Gilgamesh and the Odyssey. With Kim, a young white boy, sahib, at it's center and his friend and mentor the Lama, we see the world of India in the nineteenth century as it is ruled by Great Britain. The story unfolds against the backdrop of The Great Game, the political conflict between...more
Benjamin Duffy
One of the best books I've ever read, and one that I'm sure will stick with me for a long, long time. Not to say it's a perfect book. For one, it's pretty colonial-feeling, what with its fondness for dropping the n-word on anyone browner than an Englishman, its blithe references to sneaky, inconstant "orientals," and so forth - so much so that it's distracting and jarring in a few places. As a 21st century reader, it took me some mental effort to get past that easy matter-of-fact racism, but muc...more
Kim

Even though I share the name of the hero of this novel, I've chosen not to read it until now. There's more than one reason for this. The main reason is that I'm not naturally drawn to picaresque novels or to espionage novels, even though I've read my fair share of books from both genres. I've also had an instinctively negative reaction to Kipling because of my not terribly well-informed view of him as an apologist for British imperialism.

However, in the last few days I've started reading the se...more
Matt
It’s been a long time since I’ve graduated law school, a longer time for college, and a million years (give or take a year) since high school. That means it’s been a long time since I’ve been forced to read a particular book.

I’ve always loved to read. And I’ve always hated assigned reading. I’ve despised books I’d otherwise enjoy simply because I’m told to read it on a deadline and feel a particular intellectual response.

So, ever since my last diploma, I’ve been reading whatever I want. If you...more
Jim Coughenour
Not for the first time – I was lucky enough to overstep (almost by accident) some stray prejudice and discover how wrong I was. For most of my life Kipling has been the onerous author of "If" – a poem I was forced to recite as a boy and which still makes me shudder. Of course I've known of his other books, including Kim, which I regarded as surviving in a dubious space somewhere between Disney and Edward Said's condemned Orientalists. It was only after making my way through Peter Hopkirk's The G...more
Melissa
You know those books that you know from the very first page, you’re going to love it… this wasn’t that. You know those other books that start out slow and it takes you awhile, but soon you find yourself hooked? Nope, this was not one of those either.

In fact, I made it through the entire book without every really feeling invested in any way, shape or form. I persevered only because I started it a few months ago and gave it up, then restarted it, convinced I’d get through it. It’s one of Kipling’...more
Keely
As I said of another classic adventure story of The Great Game, the East is a fantasy. This is not only true for writers like Mundy, who experienced it as an outsider, or Howard, who experienced it only through books--it's also true for those who, like Kipling, were born and raised there.

Indeed, many of our most cherished fantasies tend to relate to the place we were born--when we find ourselves defending it, or singing its praises. It's not that the details we give aren't true, it's that we hav...more
Brian
Kim, or Kimball O’ Hara, is a British boy who has grown up on the streets of Lahore at the height of British rule in India. He lives like a native Indian, speaks Hindi fluently and knows the city like the back of his hand. Immensely street-wise, he makes a living by carrying messages for all kinds of people including an Afghan horse-dealer called Mahbub Ali who is himself involved in espionage on behalf of the British government. Kim’s ability to be part of more than one community makes him a pe...more
dead letter office
underneath kipling's unrepentant colonialism is a gifted storyteller and a great writer and a sympathetic observer. this is a much-better-than-you-think-it-would-be story of idiosyncratic characters who find themselves players in the Great Game, where the british empire battled the russian empire for control over central asia. it's also an interesting colonialist's-eye view of a part of the world that kipling clearly loved.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Kipling is a controversial author these days, seen as an unapologetic imperialist booster of the British Empire and even racist. Yet Indian authors such as Arundhati Roy, V.S. Naipaul and Salman Rushdie have found Kipling impressive and even influential. Kipling can be a wonderful storyteller. Rushdie has said Kipling's writing has "the power simultaneously to infuriate and to entrance."

I found that the case in both The Jungle Books and now Kim. And yes, you can see a, shall we say, very un-PC...more
Chris and Yuri
Sep 02, 2008 Chris and Yuri rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chris and Yuri by: Edward Said
"This is a great and terrible world. I never knew there were so many men alive in it."

This is one of those books at the center of the academic street fight known as postcolonial studies. On one hand, Rudyard Kipling was a great (and Nobel Prize-winning) writer; on the other hand, he was an unabashed cheerleader of British and American imperialism. I wanted to read Kim, in fact, because Edward Said had so much to say about it (both good and bad) in Culture and Imperialism.

Politics aside, though,...more
Margaret
I decided that before reading Laurie R. King's The Game again, I should read Rudyard Kipling's Kim, as King calls The Game "a humble and profoundly felt homage" to Kim. Besides, I'd never read it, and it's one of those classics I felt I should get around to someday.

Kimball O'Hara is the orphaned son of an Irish soldier who was stationed in India; when his father died, Kim was raised by a half-caste woman and learned to live on the streets of Lahore. The story begins when Kim meets a Tibetan lam...more
El
So let's just put on the back burner the fact that Kipling was a real a-hole in real life. He was, but I'm here to discuss his writing so that's what I'll do.

The title character, Kim, is not indeed Indian. That was the biggest preconceived notion I had. He was not Indian. He was the orphan son of an Irish soldier who had been stationed outside of India, and a poor woman. Kim lives a life similar to one as seen in the Disney version of Aladdin (now I'm really mixing things up) - begging, doing od...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label

Essay #51: Kim (1901), by Rudyard Kipling

The story in a nutshell:
Rudyard Kipling has taken a big hit in reputation since the rise of Postmodernism in the post-colonia...more
Anne
I had a bit of trouble focusing, especially at the beginning of the book because of the language style. It picked up around page 75 or so. The ending was a bit anticlimactic, but the book itself was fantastic and hilarious. I don't really understand how Kipling is portrayed today as an imperial jingoist - if anything, he has far more of a "people are people" approach than anyone I've read of his era and probably most contemporary writers. The gist of everything is that people are people and Indi...more
Colleen
Yes, Kamili, I too will forever associate this book with you and Paris. In fact the first thing that comes to mind when I think of this book is the moment we decided that we were not going to read the book or write the paper. We were on a train to the South of France and the air smelled like lavender. Maybe it was something about France, but I have never been so calm about turning in a paper a week late since.
Hana
In the high and far off times, oh best beloved, there lived a street urchin named Kim. And he dwelt in India and filled all of India with his 'satiable curiosity'!

Check your 21st century baggage at the sahib hotel, grab your amulets and a humble begging bowl and take this road trip with Kim and his wise and loving lama.

Knowing that this way lay wisdom, I ceased my struggle to understand every word, or even where or why I was on the road and simply allowed myself to delight in the teeming life,...more
Mitch
Well- I'm glad I finally read this since I've heard about it so many years, but I frankly liked the Jungle Books much better.

One weakness is Kipling's extensive use of Indian place-names, Hindu terminology and phrases that require regular recourse to a footnoted appendix. Yes, these things add color but also require breaking out of the story to discover it- too often.

Secondly, while Kim is an interesting character, he is a liar on a colossal scale. This is dressed up in deviousness and supposedl...more
Monthly Book Group
Kim (Kipling’s masterpiece) came as a very pleasant surprise to those who came new to Kipling. It was a subtle, engaging, comic and moving tale of a young man’s development, set against a gorgeous backdrop of the teeming subcontinent. The novel showed great insight into India and its people, and contrary to reputation displayed no unpleasant imperialism.

We all agreed that Kim, with its characteristic image of the roads streaming with humanity, provided a gloriously colourful picture of India. Ag...more
Erin
True fact: Kipling won the Nobel Prize! In 1907, six years after the serial publication of Kim ended.

Also true: Kipling was a raging racist and sexist. He is remembered for these characteristics almost as much as for the publication of The Jungle Book and Just So Stories.

Now that I have read Kim, I will try to remember him as a great novelist as well.

Kim is the story of a white orphan (Irish soldier father, British maid mother) raised by an Indian woman as, essentially, an Indian. He meets a Ti...more
Sairam Krishnan
Kim was one of Jawaharlal Nehru's favorite books. Rumor has it that it was one of the books he was never tired of reading. I can see why.

Kim opens with one of the most celebrated passages in all literature. A little beggar boy sits atop the fabled Zam Zammah cannon, the fire breathing dragon of Lahore. Why is that cannon important? Because it is said that whoever controls the Zam Zammah holds the Punjab. But the little boy is no native. He is Kimball 'O' Hara, the Friend of all the World, son of...more
Brenda
Kim and Jonny Quest cartoons formed my idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Xan
Cuando eres un peón dentro del tablero del Gran Juego la mirada de un niño no es inocente. Kim es un niño de las calles elegido para ser espía, nacido mestizo medio inglés y medio indio en la Joya de la Corona de la Reina Victoria, la India del siglo XIX.
No es solo un relato de aventuras, una descripción del juego de intrigas entre las grandes potencias en las que la gente común poco puede decidir, tambien es un retrato de la India rural a través de las gentes que conocen durante sus misiones d...more
Maria Chiara
The novel Kim by Rudyard Kipling take place in India, under the British Empire. Kim, the protagonist, is a boy of Irish descent who is orphaned and grows up independently in the streets of India, taken care of by a “half-caste” woman, a keeper of an opium den. He grows up as a native person. He acquires the ability to seamlessly blend into the many ethnic and religious groups of the Indian subcontinent. Kim is known to his acquaintances as Friend of All the World. Kim meets a Tibetan lama a Budd...more
Ashley
Putting issues of imperialism and race aside, Kim is a wonderfully told story about a rascally boy searching for his own racial and cultural identity. Kipling has a storyteller's way with words and a deep affection for all of his characters and the country in which they roam.

I had a history teacher in high school whose parents named him after the protagonist in this book, and I guess it turned out to be a fitting name, for he too is a rascal. I had him for history twice, once when I was a fresh...more
Marialyce
My thoughts are that this was not (to me), a very interesting book. It lacked, for lack of a better word an important emotional piece and that would be the absence of a female protagonist. While I did admire the friendship and love/admiration piece that Kim and the llama shared between them, I did find the actual story to be dull and uninteresting. Sorry to say after having read a number of books on India, this particular novel fell short for me on the impact it had on my reading and understandi...more
S.
If you are willing to put aside the hyper-sensitive, arrogant, post-20th viewpoint that this book is a racist treatise on the superiority of the white man, if you are willing to dig deeper into the text and work at understanding the non-English words and religious concepts, if you are able to look for the deeper meanings, shades of meanings, and hints of meanings, then you are in for a treat.

In Rudyard Kipling’s Kim I experienced colonial India of over a century ago rising up around me. I becam...more
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Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907 "in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author."

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudyard_...
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“This is a brief life, but in its brevity it offers us some splendid moments, some meaningful adventures.” 47 likes
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