Monday, July 14, 2008

Kim's Conclusion

After a hard week at work I was finally able to return to "Kim" this weekend and finish off the last 50 pages. I usually issue a "spoiler alert" for the discussion of the ends of books, but there really isn't anything to spoil here. Kim and his lama buddy travel to the Himalayas so the lama can continue his search for enlightenment and Kim can help stop some Russian spies. They encounter the Russian spies, and through a cultural misunderstanding one of them punches the lama in the face. An uproar ensues, allowing Kim and another spy friend to take the Russian's maps and secret papers from them. A spy success worthy of 007 himself! The lama becomes ill from his wounds and they must take him down the mountains back to the flatlands, where he gets better (well, somewhat) and eventually finds the river of enlightenment that he seeks, and vows to enlighten his pupil Kim. The End.

Now, if you're like me, your saying...huh? I enjoyed this book for the most part, but there was just a lot I did not get. And I mean two different things by this. First, as I mentioned in previous posts, there is the language and writing...I just found some of Kipling's passages incomprehensible. These were usually passages of dialog, where I could not tell who was talking, or what the heck they were trying to convey. Second, there's the book as a whole. It seems to me that Kim probably symbolizes India...He knows the way of all types of Indian folks, from whites to Hindus to Buddhists, and can pass for any of them. He is the "friend of all the world". He plays "The Great Game" of imperial politics, yet earnestly follows his lama to seek enlightenment...He combines the worldly with the spiritual to an ultimate extent (just like India!). But when I finished the book I thought "that's it"? I dunno. It was a fun read, and I would not discourage anyone from reading it, but I guess that ultimately I didn't get that much out of it...which is a first for this reading project!

So it's on to the next book! I've read a streak of Victorian novels lately, and I have a lot more in that vein I want to read this summer, but I'm thinking for the next book I'll take a break from that genre just to mix things up a bit. As to which book that will be, I haven't decided yet. One of the hardest parts of this project is picking the next book, because I really want to read them all at once. An embarrassment of riches!

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