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Kimby Rudyard Kipling
Synopses & Reviews
1. For decades many critics have shown great disdain for Kipling, equating his work with the idea that British imperialism was a righteous and justified act. Is this assessment fair? Was Kipling simply writing what he knew or structuring his literature on his political beliefs?
2. As Kim moves from the intellectual world of school to the spiritual world he finds with the lama later in the story, he continually questions who he is. Is this questioning simply that of a young orphan or does it hint at larger political unease?
3. What is the purpose of the prophecy Kim brings to the soldiers?
4. Is it surprising, given Kim's spirituality, that he joins the Secret Service? How does he reconcile his two separate lives?
5. In a 1943 essay, critic Edmund Wilson referred to the ending of Kim as a betrayal of the relationship of the old man and the young Kim, which made the book more literary than a mere adventure story. Do you agree with this? Why or why not?
6. In her article Adolescence, Imperialism, and Identity in Kim and Pegasus in Flight, Nicole Didicher says, “Adults writing for adolescents inevitably use imperialist discourse to influence their readers' maturation. Kipling . . . uses an existing imperialist society to present the protagonist’s establishment of his psychosocial identity. Do you agree that all adult writers inevitably” use imperialist discourse to reach their adolescent audiences? Did Kipling use imperialist India because that is what he knew, or was he simply entertaining a young audience?
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Rudyard Kipling's epic rendition of the imperial experience in India is also his greatest long work. Born in India and growing into early manhood, Kim wants to play the "great game" of imperialism. He is also spiritually bound to the lama, an old ascetic priest. As the two men become fired by a quest that takes them across the country, Kim tries to reconcile these opposing impulses. A celebration of their friendship in an often hostile environment, "Kim" captures at once the opulence of India's exotic landscape and the uneasy presence of the British Raj.
Introduction by John Bayley
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Pankaj Mishra is the author of The Romantics. He is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, The New Statesman, and The Times Literary Supplement. He lives in London.
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