book log — Kim

Finished Rudyard Kipling’s Kim yesterday. Yes, Cybook on the bus again. That gadget has made such a difference to the amount of reading for pleasure I’m doing, simply by making it feasible to read on the bus. Anyway, I am not going to try to review Kim, as I don’t think I can add anything useful to the reams that have been expended on the subject over the last century.

Some general comments — this is the first time I’ve read Kim. I’ve read the Jungle Books and Just So Stories repeatedly since I was a child, so it’s not that I didn’t love Kipling’s writing, it’s just the old “so many books, so little time” problem. For me Kim was something new from a well-loved author, something without the gloss of fond memory over that particular set of words. And I loved it. It’s Kipling’s love letter to the India of his childhood, a vivid portrait of a complex land and intertwining cultures. And for all the accusations of racism and jingoism thrown at Kipling, it’s a subtle undermining of stereotypes, with several of the characters exploiting those very stereotypes to go about their business as spies. The plot runs out of steam in places, but the prose carries it through anyway. Now I need to go back and re-read a couple of his other books…

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