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The Oxford History of the Novel in EnglishVolume 9: The World Novel in English to 1950$
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Ralph Crane, Jane Stafford, and Mark Williams

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199609932

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199609932.001.0001

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The Persistence of Kim

The Persistence of Kim

(p.324) 18 The Persistence of Kim
The Oxford History of the Novel in English

Harry Ricketts

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses Rudyard Kipling's novel Kim, which was published in 1901. The novel tells the story of an Indian-raised Lahore street urchin who becomes both the disciple of a Tibetan Buddhist Lama and a crack British spy. One reason for Kim 's likeability, as Abdul R. JanMohamed puts it, is that ‘the narrator seems to find as much pleasure in describing the varied and tumultuous life of India as Kim finds in experiencing it’. Even the unwilling and the unlikely have—with some notable exceptions—been won over by Kim. However, in 1941, the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges and the American critic Edmund Wilson both expressed strong divided feelings about Kim and particularly about its patriotic imperialism. Wilson's evident desire for a different outcome to the novel and his disgust at its endorsement of Kim's imagined future as a spy have both found echoes in the responses of Indian writers.

Keywords:   Rudyard Kipling, Kim, Indian life, Edmund Wilson, patriotic imperialism, Indian writers

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