Kim (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Kim (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


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Kim, by Rudyard Kipling, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Rudyard Kipling has been attacked for championing British imperialism and celebrated for satirizing it. In fact, he did both. Nowhere does he express his own ambivalence more strongly than in Kim, his rousing adventure novel of a young man of many allegiances.

Kimball O’Hara grows up an orphan in the walled city of Lahore, India. Deeply devoted to an old Tibetan lama but involved in a secret mission for the British, Kim struggles to weave the strands of his life into a single pattern. Charged with action and suspense, yet profoundly spiritual, Kim vividly expresses the sounds and smells, colors and characters, opulence and squalor of complex, contradictory India under British rule.

Jeffrey Meyers, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, has published forty-three books, including biographies of Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, D. H. Lawrence, Joseph Conrad, and George Orwell. He also wrote the introduction and notes to the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593081928
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 01/01/2004
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 51,923
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was one of the most popular writers in the United Kingdom in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His fiction works include The Jungle Book — a classic of children’s literature — and the rousing adventure novel Kim, as well as books of poems, short stories, and essays. In 1907, at the age of 42, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Read an Excerpt

From Jeffrey Meyers's Introduction to Kim

In Kim, Kipling creates an exotic atmosphere, full of vivid characters and incidents, and immediately draws the reader into his strange world. The novel concerns a religious quest and a quest for identity, and includes both enlightenment and espionage, tranquillity and violence. It combines social, cultural, and political history with the hardships and goal of a travel book. Like Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha (1922), Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge (l944), and Iris Murdoch's The Sea, the Sea (1978), it is one of the rare European novels with a Buddhist theme. Kim and the lama, Dharma Bums on the Road, foreshadow the sprawling works of Jack Kerouac. Maugham, a great admirer of Kipling, wrote that he gives you "the tang of the East, the smell of the bazaars, the torpor of the rains, the heat of the sun-scorched earth, the rough life of the barracks."10

Kipling achieved his brilliant effects by combining his two great themes, childhood and India, and by creating a bountiful array of characters, subtle modulations of style and speech, and a carefully wrought structure that controls the series of fortuitous encounters and picaresque adventures. Kim, the orphaned son of a drunken Irish sergeant and a nursemaid mother, has been brought up by a Eurasian opium eater, given free run of the narrow streets and back alleys of Lahore, and become completely assimilated to Indian life. The rainbow coalition of indigenous teachers, who lead him to his true identity and real vocation, are increasingly Europeanized; his English teachers, who train him as a spy, are increasingly sophisticated and significant.

The Tibetan Buddhist lama rejects the world and searches for salvation. Mahbub Ali, the Afghan Muslim horse trader, works with the English but retains his traditional customs. Hurree Chunder Mookerjee, the Hindu Bengali and "semi-anglicized product of our Indian colleges,"11 tries to adopt British behavior and speech. The Protestant and Catholic clergymen, Mr. Bennett and Father Victor, try to co-opt Kim into their religions. Lurgan, English but born in India, tests Kim and trains him for the Great Game of espionage. Colonel Creighton, a secret agent masquerading as an ethnologist (Kim, an expert on castes and keen on mimicry, is himself an amateur ethnologist), recognizes Kim's unique potential and exploits his rare talents. Kim asks: "'What am I? Mussalman, Hindu, Jain, or Buddhist?'" and is none of the above. But in a brief, touching scene he combines the British, Muslim, Buddhist, and Jain elements in his character and culture and forgets "even the Great Game as he stooped, Mohammedan fashion, to touch his master's feet in the dust of the Jain temple".

Kim and each of his native mentors have a different and quite idiosyncratic way of speaking. Kipling vividly conveys the flavor of vernacular speech and the formulaic repetitions of unlettered folk by using traditional proverbs and archaic diction from the seventeenth-century English of the King James Bible and Shakespeare. The lama keeps repeating the same solemn banalities in a singsong cadence: "'They are all bound upon the Wheel. . . . Bound from life after life. To none of these has the Way been shown'". Mahbub Ali's declamatory phrases express his hearty ruffianism: "'God's curse on all unbelievers! Beg from those of my tail who are of thy faith.'" The babu Hurree, pompous and slightly absurd, drops his definite articles, mispronounces long words, and misuses English idioms: "'I am of opeenion that it is most extraordinary and effeecient performance. Except that you had told me I should have opined that—that—that you were pulling my legs.'" The seductive Woman of Shamlegh speaks with languid insinuations: "'I do not love Sahibs, but thou wilt make us a charm in return for it. We do not wish little Shamlegh to get a bad name.'" Kim shifts from stilted English before his formal education: "'Every month I become a year more old,'" to old-fashioned schoolboy slang after he's been to St. Xavier's: "'By Jove! . . . This is a dam'-tight place.'" T. S. Eliot observed the contrast between Kipling's portrayal of native characters in the early stories and in Kim:

There are two strata in Kipling's appreciation of India, the stratum of the child and that of the young man. It was the latter who observed the British in India and wrote the rather cocky and rather acid tales of Delhi and Simla, but it was the former who loved the country and its people. . . . The Indian characters have the greater reality because they are treated with the understanding of love. . . . It is the four great Indian characters in Kim who are real: the Lama [not Indian], Mahbub Ali, Hurree Chunder Mookerjee, and the wealthy widow from the North.

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Kim 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 206 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok, we all know that he was a colonialist and at times bordered on bigotry, but this book is Rudyard Kipling's best and it is an absolute masterpiece. It's the ultimate tale of an Englishman gone native: James Bond meets Siddhartha. Kipling's identification with Kim, his young protagonist, is complete. This is the work of a man passionately in love with India, and in possession of extraordinary powers of observation and description.
steamyfan More than 1 year ago
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. Kipling raises questions of identity (Who is Kim?), culture, spirituality and the nature of fate. Most of all he depicts the growth of a young man through his quest to find his destiny and the bond that develops between Kim as 'chela' or disciple and his Lama. The greatness of this novel lies in Kipling's ability to combine all of these themes with a natural style that conveys the richness both of the lives of Kim and his friends and the fecundity of life in India. One of the most enduring images for me was the close tie Kim has with the land itself. This is shown several times throughout the novel culminating in his final renewal when stretched out on the earth near the end of the novel. The epic quest is successful as this novel unfolds a positive and uplifting narrative.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kipling has become, in these post-colonial days, the man you love to hate. Yet few have equaled Kipling¿s story of an Indian beggar boy whose experience in the heyday of the British raj forces him into personal transformation that entirely illuminates the impact of colonialism on a subject people. The novel, owing to the strength of its narrative and its fatally believable realism, hovers on the dark side of modern consciousness, as does much of Kipling. The writer who invented the phrase ¿The White Man¿s Burden¿ is someone many people would like to forget. But one testimony to the ongoing power of Kim is the recent novel The Impressionist by Hari Kunzru, a descant on Kipling¿s narrative of the problem of identity in British India. The fact that an Indian author borrows Kipling¿s idea and shapes a story on Kiplingesque lines is simply testimony to the ongoing authority of this classic.
Dolphins_rock More than 1 year ago
I love Kim!! It is the most amazing book and it touches you. Kim my grandfather wanted me to read it and I have to say I was a little sceptical at first , but it turned out to be asdonding. YOU must read this book and watch the movie with Errol Flynn!! Its is simaler to the book in some was. I am 11 and I love Kim and Rudyard Kiplings books.I would recommend this to someone. I have to my friend Caroline. I also recommed Kim the movie with Errol Flynn it is the best of them all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kim is certainly a classic. It tells the tale of Kim O¿Hara a free spirited Anglo Indian, who adventures across India with his spiritual guide in search of a secret holy river, and is slowly drawn into the world of espionage. Rudyard Kipling aptly describes Kim¿s journey into manhood, beautifully illustrating his experiences, travels and the extraordinary people he meets. The book really captures pre-independence India well, but undeniably seen from the eyes of an colonialist.
Smiler69 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kim O'Hara is an orphan, living in the streets of Lahore, India like countless other unfortunate children. So dark is his skin from his prolonged exposure to the elements, that he has no notion at all that he is a 'sahib', a term used to designate a white man. He meets an elderly Buddhist monk who is on a mission to find the mythical river that has sprouted at the place where Buddha's arrow struck long ago, and Kim decides he must accompany the man and be his disciple, so he can beg for food for and shelter for the frail sage. Kim has his own destiny to fulfill: he must find a red bull in a green field, which will reveal to him great truths. And so the young boy and the old man embark on a long journey together that will take Kim from childhood to the life of an educated young man who is of great use as an agent of the British army, which seeks to keep a firm grasp on it's colonies with the use of spies as on of it's weapons. There are many sympathetic characters along the journey and it's a gripping adventure. But though our protagonist goes through a fascinating journey, I failed to be fully drawn into this story, as in the back of my mind there remained the insistent thought that through it all, Kippling might be upholding colonialism as an ideal and I often wondered whether the author considered the natives in the story fully as human beings or was rather parodying regional stereotypes. For example, with the Buddhist sage's continual references to 'The Way' and 'The Wheel', which must have seemed novel ideas to a Western readership at the beginning of the 20th century, was Kippling simply trying to teach Eastern Philosophy to his readers, or was he using the man's constant proselytizing in mockery? This is a book which would probably profit from a group reading to allow the opportunity for discussion on these matters.
MrsLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A grand adventure, good reading about Colonialism and India.
The_Hibernator on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kim is an orphaned boy living on the streets of Lahore. When he meets a Buddhist monk who is on a quest to find a healing river, Kim joins the lama as his student and friend. Together they travel, learn lessons, and have adventures. I enjoyed watching Kim grow up in this story, and enjoyed the colorful descriptions of the people Kim and the lama met. However, I¿m still trying to figure out what the deeper meaning of this story is. Perhaps time will help.
annbury on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My first Kipling since "The Jungle Book" so many years ago, and not at all what I was expected. As a child, I adored "The Jungle Book", but as an adult I put Kipling firmly into the imperialist/racist category, and expected his work to be mostly imperialist blather. It's not that at all; what really stands out in "Kim", as many other reviewers have noted, is Kipling's passion for India with all its kaleidoscope of peoples, religions, languages, and everything else. A lot of it, of course, does sound imperialist to a 21rst century ear. "Kim" appeared in 1901, and he doesn't question the right of the "sahibs" to rule India. But in the context of the time, some of his attitudes seem remarkably non-imperialist. Some of the least sympathetic characters in the book are British, including a Church of England minister, who, upon meeting Tibetan holy man "looked at him with the triple-ringed uninterest of the creed that lumps nine-tenths of the world under the title 'heathen' " Kipling is not "uninterested" in anything about India; he revels in it in what one reviewer termed "Orientalism". That's a fair criticism, but I don't think that it means that one should forego Kipling. I will certainly read more, after having read "Kim".
jayne_charles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh dear. I tried really really hard to stay with the plot, but it was like being sucked under the water by an extra strong current, and drowning. I just couldn't stay with it, and ended up skimming the last quarter.
petrojoh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You can almost smell the spices of India. Wonderfully descriptive and exotically native.
hemlokgang on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In many ways I think this is the perfect book. First of all, who can resist Kim, himself? A Sahib street-child turned servant to a holy man and at the same time a player in the international intrigue of India in the 1800s, with a lama, a horse trader, a physician/magician, and an entire British regiment as his friends. Politics, spirituality, acceptance, wisdom from all was just a pleasure to read this book!
davidpwhelan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I started this as an e-book and couldn't wait to get a print copy. Kim, short for Kimball O'Hara, is an Irish orphan in India during the Raj who gets up to all sorts of mischief until he meets a holy man, a lama from Tibet. He continues to get up to mischief but his adventures take him out across India, to school, and into contact with all sorts of interesting characters. It's an excellent story and was one of the many books that inspired Baden Powell as he started the Boy Scout movement. The issues relating to religion and caste would be good to discuss with younger (12 and under) readers.
DeltaQueen50 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Published in 1901, Kim by Rudyard Kipling has rightly become a beloved classic over the years. Possessing all the ingredients needed for a grand adventure story, this tale goes a step further with it¿s wondrous descriptive writing and it¿s close look at the India Kipling knew so well. To this is added well defined and interesting characters and a bitter-sweet coming of age plot line. The story revolves around Kimball O¿Hara who, at the beginning of the story, is living as a native orphan on the streets of Lahore. He meets and makes an instant connection with a wandering lama from Tibet. Together they embark upon a journey, both spiritual and actual. Travelling the crowded rails and dusty roads of India, meeting many interesting people along the way. Kim becomes the lamas disciple or ¿chela¿ and his love and respect for the older man grows. That these feelings are returned is obvious as well. Eventually Kim meets up with a company of soldiers from his father¿s Irish Regiment who take him under their wing. With his ability to blend into the native population, he soon finds himself involved in ¿The Great Game¿ as a British agent. High adventure indeed, but for me it was the detailed descriptions of India, the sights, the smells and the people that made this book special. From the crowded marketplace to the dusty plains, Kipling¿s colourful writing brings India to life. Kim is a book that I can see reading over and over again as I believe every read would give you a different perspective. Truly a classic.
Niecierpek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved the characters in this book. As much as I liked this story and the characters I can¿t help but remember that one person¿s heroes are the other person¿s terrorists esp. in times of political and national struggle. Kipling glorifies English occupation of India and even though he has a lot of sympathy for Indian people and a lot of knowledge of Indian castes, ethnicities, religions and customs one has to remember that the English were the invaders and the Great Game was designed to keep everybody in their place. Having said that, I did not care so much about the plot and the intrigue but really fell in love with Kim and the Lama and their friendship. All the other characters and especially Mahboob Ali, Huree Babu as well as the blind prostitute turned body artist were absolutely exquisite as well. I had not read Kipling before and did not realize what good storyteller he was.
Pferdina on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great story about British India. A book like this deserves to be called a classic. The plot involves, Kim, an orphaned boy in Lahore who meets with amazing adventures after falling in with a Tibetan lama in search of a mystical river.
nielspeterqm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perhaps the very core novel of imperialism, widely considered Kipling's masterpiece. For my own part, I was never entirely caught by this difficult merger of 2 genres later considered quite separate: the novel of personal or spiritual development, & the espionage novel. The pure espionage parts however, adding up to about 1/3 of the book, are lively, fresh, in every way original. The ending, which unites & transcends the 2 genres, remains a stroke of genius & skill.
gbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kipling was a very popular author during his life (1865-1936), and Kim (1901) was arguably written at the peak of his career. It tells the story of an orphaned son of an Irish soldier traveling through India, and Kipling was certainly experienced enough to write the tale, having lived there from 1882 to 1889. As the introduction to this volume says, ¿Kipling¿s view of life is a deeply pessimistic one. Not only is man, as he once put it, at war with his surroundings in a world that does not care, but that world itself is without intrinsic order: chaos and anarchy constitute its true moral reality.¿ What better place for this worldview than India, with its harshness, diversity, and chaos. In the story, Kim meets an aged lama and becomes his disciple, and throughout the book there is a duality between Kim¿s humanistic love with the lama spiritual love. The fundamental message Kipling imparts to us is that this duality can never be ¿resolved¿ and will always exist. The novel takes place during what is referred to as ¿The Great Game¿, that is, the political conflict between Russia and Britain in Central Asia at this time, and there is a similar ¿earthly¿ duality between this tension and the better instincts of humanity that is also shown to be unending. Today Kipling stands for the imperialism of the age and he¿s controversial today for having written ¿The White Man¿s Burden¿ (ugh) two years earlier, but it is not for that Kim didn¿t resonate with me. Kim was ¿ok¿ as an adventure story, ¿ok¿ as a cultural study of India, and ¿ok¿ relative to insights into spirituality or the human condition ¿ but not strong enough at any of these for me to recommend it. I think it¿s a bit overrated.Quotes:On religion:"Thou art beyond question an unbeliever, and therefore thou wilt be damned. So says my Law - or I think it does. But thou art also my Little Friend of all the World, and I love thee. So says my heart. This matter of creeds is like horseflesh. The wise man knows horses are good - that there is a profit to be made from all; and for myself - but that I am a good Sunni and hate the men of Tira - I could believe the same of all the Faiths.¿¿Bennett looked at him with the triple-ringed uninterest of the creed that lumps nine-tenths of the world under the title of `heathen¿.¿On eating, and different cultures:¿Certain things are not known to those who eat with forks. It is better to eat with both hands for a while. Speak soft words to those who do not understand this¿¿
thorold on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kim is another of those books that comes with a great deal of baggage: some of it reasonable, some not. It would be great to be able to say simply "this is a great adventure story" and enjoy it on its own terms, but I think the reader has to be aware of at least some of the assumptions Kipling is asking us to make about the world. Penguin clearly don't want us to enjoy the book at all, as their Penguin Modern Classics edition comes with a rather depressing introductory essay and some tediously pedantic notes by the late Edward Said.Is it a great spy story? I don't think so - although I heard Dame Stella Rimington, who may be presumed to know a thing or two about spying in India, talking it up as such on the BBC the other day. Whilst Kim's training with Lurgan Sahib is plausible, Kim's big success against the French and Russian agents is a direct consequence of their incompetence - if they'd taken any sensible precautions against counter-espionage at all, Kim and his friends would never have been able to foil their dastardly plans. Some of the tradecraft Kim is taught seems a bit suspect too - what intelligence organisation would be daft enough to give all of its agents a common recognition signal? One traitor would be enough to blow the whole organisation.Is it a handbook for military adventures on the North-West frontier? If that's how it is being used, it might explain the current lack of progress of NATO forces in Afghanistan. Anyone who's read Peter Hopkirk's books knows that by the time Kim was written, the danger of Russian incursions into India and Afghanistan, if it ever existed, was long past. There was, as there always has been, unrest among some of the Muslim communities in the area, but Kipling doesn't tell us anything about that. Kipling's view of the Great Game is a fantasy, and probably has more to do with the costly and unsuccessful colonial war of the moment (South Africa) than with India.Is it a primer in basic Buddhism? Probably not. There is no coherent explanation of what Buddhists actually believe, or why. We do get glimpses of the way the lama's religious beliefs help him to deal with concrete situations, but we are led to attribute his qualities to his own strength of character, as much as to his Buddhism. He is really a kind of generic holy man - he would be just as plausible if he were a Baptist or a Benedictine.Is it imperialist? Yes, of course it is. Kipling was firmly convinced that it was the duty of the British to run India, because he felt that they could do a better job than anyone else. This was a minority view (especially in Britain itself), but it was considered a perfectly respectable political standpoint at the time, and Kipling at least had some experience of the realities of colonial India from his time as a journalist. Said is right, of course, to draw attention to the way that Kipling selectively shows us Indians who support the British Raj, and ignores other viewpoints.Is it racist? Certainly, although the passages Said draws attention to are mostly just evidence of a failure to distinguish between racial and cultural characteristics, which is common to most writers of the period. Kipling compensates for this laziness to a large extent by the way the two most important Indian characters, Mahbub Ali and the Babu, are drawn as individuals who transcend racial stereotypes (in fact, both of them are conscious of the way Europeans stereotype them, and exploit this perception for their own ends). However, in the case of Kim, we have someone who as grown up to all intents and purposes in an Indian cultural environment, having lost his European parents at a very young age, but who nevertheless has a special destiny because of his racial origins. I don't think we can absolve Kipling of racism on this point: on the other hand, it is an assumption Kipling pushes so far into the foreground that I don't see how any modern reader of the book could fail to be conscious of it: it's simp
rizeandshine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kim is a tale of spies and espionage, which I normally love, but I found the English vernacular difficult to follow and I think over-the-top, which made it a bit of a chore to read rather than pure enjoyment. The story itself is exciting and I did enjoy Kipling's passion for India, where he was born and raised, and its people. In this novel, he truly celebrates the rich diversity, sights, sounds and flavors of the country.
akreese on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I know a lot of people really like this book, but for some reason I have never been able to make it through the whole thing. I read a little bit and then lose interest. Maybe someday I will give it another try.
mmillet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my dad's favorite book and he has been telling me to read this one for years. I loved the relationship aspect of this story. Kim's attachment to the Lama and vice-versa is truly inspiring. I also loved Kim's resourcefulness, he takes any situation and comes out on top. I understand now why my dad has to go back every few years to read it.
bzedan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I missed Kim when I was reading Kipling as a kid. I really like this, part spy and adventure story, part spiritual quest. There is something soothing about how Kipling writes, and he writes such great and real characters, full of flaws and charm.
Ibreak4books on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"must" reading for anyone living in 2007. Besides the wonderful content, there is Kipling's minimal style, which I love: beautifully crafted sentences with something left for the reader to put in.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a book I read many years ago and enjoyed, and I think being a teenager helped my enjoyment. Re-reading as an adult, and with more knowledge of the world changes my view a bit, though a lot of the issues I had were more to do with the era of the book rather than the actual story itself.Yes there are very few female characters of note. Yes it's a time when the British Raj were in charge in India and one of their major issues was the possible incursion of Russia or France (or Russia and France) from Afghanistan. But still this story of an Irish orphan being trained to do work for the powers that be as part of the Great Game played by people in order to manage the country. His ability to be different people helps the situation immensely. I must say that as a kid I enjoyed the adventure but now I enjoyed the details and having just read the Skull Mantra the difference in acceptance of Tibetan monks and the casual way in which the imperial system is accepted as being for the "betterment" of the "natives" is an interesting look into the past.