Dan Sandman

23: Kim by Rudyard Kipling

In Adventure, Books, Fiction on 05/06/2015 at 12:00 pm

Kim by Rudyard KiplingPerhaps all heroes need a spiritual guide, whose role it is to help the hero along the way. Luke Skywalker has Yoda (Star Wars), Neo has Morpheus (The Matrix) and Kim has the lama. Characters such as these take the hero away from the material world; towards the spiritual realm. Without knowledge and wisdom, the hero is likely to take the wrong path. If Yoda didn’t teach Luke to control his anger, he may have been corrupted by the ‘dark side’; if Morpheus didn’t believe in ‘the one’, then Neo would have been stuck in the matrix; and if the lama did not have faith in his ‘chela’, then Kim might have joined ‘the Great Game’.

But unlike Star Wars (1977) or The Matrix (1999), Kim (1901) is set in the real world, and the lama uses meditation to reach enlightenment, as opposed to ‘the force’ or ‘the way’. For those readers who aren’t familiar with Kim, it is a novel about an orphaned boy who joins a holy man on his quest for the River (a place where all sins will be washed away). On his travels, Kim is educated to become a sahib (gentlemen), encouraged to join the secret service (Great Game), meets a diverse range of people, and explores India in all its varied glory.

I guess Kim is a classic bildungsroman, or novel of education. Come to think of it, Kim  is picturesque too, which ties in with that German tradition. Personally, putting aside literary terms, I enjoyed my first reading of a Kipling novel; in particular, the vivid characters and beautifully described landscapes. It felt like a novel about choices: between the spiritual and the material; between East and West; between faith and reason. I think Kipling wants the reader to see that the world is a difficult place to navigate, so all we can do is find a spiritual guide and make our way towards the next choice, in an endless search for meaning.

Books can help.

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  1. Reblogged this on The Continuing Adventures of Falstaff Wild and commented:
    There is ‘Call of the Thunder Dragon’ the germ of an idea inspired by Kim, in fact the same character I used in the Max Henry stories (soon to be shared here). The ‘Mad Mahatma of Kathmandu’ – Ying Yang Huo. Inspired directly by Lama in Kim and Master Roshi in Dragonball!

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