The obligatory Kim thread
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I know there are people who see it as one of the great novels of all time, and re-read it religiously at fixed intervals; others who despise it as rank imperialist propaganda. I suspect that most of us are somewhere in between the two. Even the late Edward Said (in the introduction to the Penguin Modern Classics edition) admitted, grudgingly, that he liked it, even though he despised everything it stood for (I paraphrase, of course!).
I like it a lot, and I've read it a number of times, but I wouldn't quite put it on my desert island shortlist. It is tremendously entertaining, there are some wonderful characters and descriptions, but it has all sorts of weaknesses. There's the whole business of Kim's special destiny, which always strikes me as one of the most culpably racist things in Kipling. And all that wishy-washy Buddhist mystical stuff at the end...
In fact, couldn't you argue that Kipling simply didn't have that consistent, unified view of things which a great, or even a good, novelist needs? So, realising that, he became one of the great short story writers instead?
Or is that a pretentiously, literary comment to make? I rather fear it is!
I'm currently on Chapter 14 and don't have a clue about the development of this novel. Sure, Kim is cool, an adaptable, opportunistic, lighting-fast learning teenage James Bond. But I think the plot and theme could be so much more lucid. That other Victorian Teenager story Captain's Courageous, was mach more straight-forward.
It is my "Desert Island" book.
It's not a "Great Novel", I'm glad to say! It doesn't set out to address any particular problem, or to look deep into the heart of man, or any of that tosh. It's a story of a boy growing up, and a love-song to India.