Book: Kim - Livre d'Or

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Book: Kim
Sunday, 19 December 2004 at 09:56 pm

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Author: Rudyard Kipling

Details: Originally published 1901; Pub Penguin Popular Classics 1994; ISBN 0-14-062049-4; Gutenberg text

Verdict: Kim is just as delightful as I remembered it!

Reasons for reading it: rysmiel reviewed it and this reminded me that it used to be one of my favourite books when I was a kid and that I hadn't read it for ages.

How it came into my hands: Borrowed Screwy's copy.

Well, it turned out that my love for Kim was not just nostalgia. It's still wonderful. I realized I'd almost entirely forgotten the plot, and remembered only the marvellous characters and atmosphere. Which might make Kim sound dull, but it isn't at all, it's incredibly pacy and exciting and I really was having a hard time tearing myself away from it, even when I was reading it at Hengrave and there were lots of other unmissably fun things going on.

Kim is one of the best characters in all of literature. He's both intelligent and smart, but also quite innocent in some ways, and it's completely plausible the way all the charcters in the book love him so much. I adore the way he handles adults, using all the psychological tricks that leora has been describing recently, but just because they come naturally to him from his observation of human nature. I think one of the things I noticed rereading this as an adult, which I hadn't seen before, was the way that the reader has a much more complete understanding of the way the world works than Kim does. His point of view is conveyed very precisely, and he's fantastically intelligent, of course, but his understanding is the limited understanding of a child.

The background of all kinds of different aspects of late 19th century Indian society, as seen through Kim's eyes, is also wonderful. As usual, I have no idea whether it's accurate, but it's so vivid and detailed and described in such an atmospheric way that I really don't care! The landscape as well as the people are so beautifully done. And the characters who actually have roles in the story as opposed to forming part of this amazingly colourful background are all done with that peculiarly Kipling touch, really memorable people depicted with just a few details. For example, I'd remembered the Healer of Pearls as being a major character, and actually it turns out that he's really only around for one chapter.

Anyone who hasn't read Kim (which I would think is lots of people, as Kipling's really not as popular as he deserves), really ought to. And if they have any influence over any children, they should get them to read it too, because if a whole generation of kids grow up thinking Harry Potter is the pinnacle of children's literature, the world will be a very sad place in a few years' time.

Moooood: cheerfulcheerful
Tuuuuune: Joy Division: She's lost control
Discussion: 3 contributions | Contribute something

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hatam_soferet: default
Date:December 24th, 2004 01:18 am (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry
I love Kim. I read it the first time when I was about eleven, and I stopped liking it after Kim gets to be about fourteen. But when I was a bit older it got better - I never was much good at sustaining interest in stories about childrem much older than me, but after I reached Kim's age at the end of the book I liked the whole book. I keep mentioning, for various reasons, how cool Kim is, and Kipling on India generally, and usually get one of two responses: a) Maybe he does write well about India but reading him indicates that you support colonialism (groan) or b) I don't read Kipling because he was an anti-Semite (not even worth the groan).

What about Stalky?
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livredor: bookies
Date:December 25th, 2004 09:47 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 10:47 pm (livredor's time)
I love Kim.
*bounce* Yay fellow fan!

I read it the first time when I was about eleven, and I stopped liking it after Kim gets to be about fourteen.
I think I encountered Kim a bit younger than that, seven or eight I think, though it was most likely my Dad reading it aloud to me at that point. The funny thing is I always assumed Kim was kind of my age; it's only rereading it now that I realize that when I had him nine-ish at the beginning of the book and 12 or so by the end, and that was just completely out of my head and had nothing to do with the actual book. (I also thought Merry and Pippin in LotR were more or less my age or slightly older, which just goes to show that I was good at reading in whatever I wanted to imagine.) I've never been bothered by reading about people older than me, that I can remember.

The weird one with that is Skallagrigg; I read it again recently, and instead of relating to Esther, I was much more empathizing with Richard. It really hit me that in the opening scene where he loses his wife and has to decide the fate of a very sick baby, he's younger than we are now.

reading him indicates that you support colonialism (groan) or b) I don't read Kipling because he was an anti-Semite (not even worth the groan)
Oh, for heaven's sake! That's people parrotting received opinions and not bothering to think for themselves. I'm mainly inclined to think it's their loss, really; I mean, Kipling is past caring whether people buy his books or not.

What about Stalky?
You know, the funny thing is, even though I'm such a huge Kipling fan, I've never read it. I have a dim memory of starting and never getting into it, which very likely means I tried to read it far too young. I should definitely look for it again now.
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hatam_soferet: default
Date:December 26th, 2004 03:42 pm (UTC)
2 days after journal entry
I thought Merry and Pippin were about my age, too. I've always had problems with books where the characters started out as children - at which point I was interested in them - and turned into adults, when they stopped being interesting, I suppose because they started doing incomprehensible adult things. I remember giving up on Jane Eyre and David Copperfield because of that, and Kim had something of the same flavour - once he left school I found it much harder to relate to him.

Stalky is jolly adult. You should definitely look for it again, it's extremely super.
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