Sadly, I haven't given Kim the time it deserves. I had a hard time getting into it. Not because I didn't find it somewhat interesting, but because I've just had too many things getting in the way of giving it my complete attention. I have worked on it all month, off and on, and still haven't quite finished it. Grrr. It couldn't suck me in enough, I guess. I got about 3/4 through it.
I have to hurry and read a different book before tomorrow night, and then I want to move on, so here's my take on Kim at this point.
Here is one of the questions Andrea addressed:
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?
I can see why modern day liberal-thinkers (not referencing today's current political climate, necessarily) would not be able to swallow Kipling's approval of British imperialism. We've convinced ourselves that this was a shameful period of Britain's history. (Side note - the British left behind some good after their colonial rule - there are many aspects of that that the Indians kept (language, parliament, and other things) when they returned to ruling themselves. Throughout history nations have come out of an imperial rule better in some ways than they were when the went into it, although we can argue that they lost things in return).
While Kipling doesn't have a problem with British Imperialism, I don't think he would agree that the British are superior to the Indians. I think it is fairly obvious that Kipling loved India and loved it's people. The British characters in the story are often silly, while the Indian characters have a depth and wit to them.
Central to the story is Kim's relationship with the lama. I loved their story. One of my favorite parts is when Kim leaves school and joins up with the lama, and how they each pretend that they are not all that excited to be together again.
A second thing I enjoyed was the rich culture of India. The people were so real and well-drawn. I love reading about other cultures and discovering their little idiosyncrasies that make them unique. There is a strict code of behavior and manners here which Kim understands and is able to manipulate in order to get what he wants in terms of food and shelter. He knows exactly who to play, and how, which I thought was pretty funny.
I thought Andrea addressed the religious issue well - better than I would have, so I won't go into it. Just add a huge ditto.
Kami, Mahbub was my favorite character also.
Have you guys ever read The City of Joy? It's about India also, but about the poor of modern-day Calcutta. Kind of heart-wrenching, but interesting.