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The book I’ve read, KIM, was written by Rudyard Kipling in 1901. Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay on the 30TH December 1865. He was the son of Lochwood Kipling, a cultivated man, and Alice MacDonald, of Scottish-Irish origins. In 1871 his parents sent him to England, to provide him with a good education. He lived until 1877 at Southsea with a family really twisted by his parents. He returned in India at the age of 17, where he became the sub-editor of the “Lahore and Military Gazette”. In 1887 he was appointed vice-director of the “Pioneer”; then he was sent to England, where he wrote his first novels. He later travelled in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand; on his return to England he married Caroline Balestier. After visiting Japan, the Kiplings settled in Vermount, U.S.A., until 1896. After the war of Boer, he settled in England, where he redescovered his country until his death, the 18TH January 1936.
One of the most known Kipling’s book is surely Kim. Kim, whose full name is Kimball O’Hara, is the son of an Irish sergeant and of a woman who had been a nursemaid in an English officier’s family. His mother had died when he was an infant, and his father, who had lived for some years with an half-caste woman, began smoking opium and died in complete poverty. The woman than sewed Kim birth’s certificate and the documents recording his father’s service with the Irish regiment of The Mavericks in a leather amulet-case, which she strung around the boy’s neck. Kim ran away and lived as a vagabond in Lahore, coming to resemble a native child: the Indians called him “Little Friend of the World”. At the beginning of the novel Kim meets, near the museum of Lahore (the “Wonder House”), an old Lama, a Buddhist priest, once a ruler in an old Buddhist monastery of Tibet. He has come down from Tibet in search of a mystic stream, the River of the
Arrow, which sprang from the ground when the young Buddha shot an arrow from a sacred bow. If he finds it, he will attain peace. Kim becomes his disciple (the “chela”) and wanders through India with him. But one day they meet the soldiers of the Mavericks regiment; Kim is recognized as British on the evidence of his documents, and as a white boy he is sent to school in a Catholic college. He accepts on condition that he’s allowed to spend the vacation with his belowed Lama. In the meantime, as he proves sharp and intelligent, he is employed in the English Secret Service (the “Great Game”). He goes with his Lama as far as the Himalayas, where he succeeds in thwarting the schemes of a dangerous Russian spy trying to stir up trouble on the frontier; and there, on the snowy peaks, the Lama finds the cleansing river he has so long dreamed of, and feels al last free and sinless, delivered from the burden of the Wheel of Life.
There is an episode of that book that has stroken me most: Kim and the Lama are proceeding on foot from the town of Umballa to the “Great Trunk Road” (which bears the traffic of Hindustan for fifteen hundread miles). They meet a great variety of Indian people, including a sospicious market gardener. At first he trats them unkindly, thinking they are beggars, but when the Lama, with quiet dignity, proceeds through the “unblessed” fields, the gardener, who is afraid of a curse on his crops, begs for pardons and offers them milk and food. The Lama pardons him, and Kim swells with pride at the priest’s generosity, but is at once gently reproached for his boastfullness: “There is no pride among such as follow the Middle Way”. We are all “upon the wheel” says the Lama, “a life ascending or descending”, according to our merits or sins. The Middle Way is the Buddhist golden mean between sensuality and asceticism, the way of tolerance, austerity, self-abnegation which Buddhism indicates to all believers.
The style of Kim is concise and the natural descriptions are made with broad stokes, without minute analysis. Similarly, human beings are described in few features revealing the substance of their character, without recourse to deep psychology. The prose is vigorous, often rough and colloquial, always vivid, and enlivened at times by a strong sense of humor.
In the book are mixed the two Kipling’s souls, the Indian and the Victorian, as the exotic reality of his Indian world encounters the rigid moral frame of English Victorian society. According to this, we can denote the principal themes of “Kim”:
• The portrayal of Anglo-Indian society, the life and experience of officiers and soldiers, the patient and often obscure world of civil servants, the idle gossip of social occasions, the relations between the British and the Indians, often characterized by diffidence, but also by confidence and even love;
• The life and atmosphere in India: Kipling was born in India and when he left it, at the age of six, many unconscious impressions of his native land and its unique atmosphere were imprinted on his mind. When he returned, he developed an intense curiosity about the land, their jobs and lives, their picturesque variety, the life of the bazaars, the ceaseless traffic of the Grand Roads, the various races, castes and languages, and the deeply felt religions with their different Gods. In the book all this is observed, judged and reported with the intuition of the artist, the vividness of the journalist and the fluency of the story-teller. His curiosity came from a great zest for human and animal life, which can be both fascinating and terrible.

In addiction to these “Indian” themes, there are other ones that regard more the author’s personality, that are:
• The sense of loneliness and the need for action: although he loved life, Kipling could never rid himself of the sensation that man is and remains alone; this feeling perhaps derived from his experience as a child, when he lived for some years in England far from his family, but it grew with age. In “KIM” the sense of loneliness brings man to that silent path which leads to unhappiness and death. But there is one remedy: action. There is in the book a kind of fear of the void, and the necessity to fill it with everyday tasks, even to the point of self-abnegation; action creates a barrier against the deep unconscious terror of nothingness.
• The necessity of law and adherence to it: it might be the simple law of the jungle, or the law of a religious community, or of a man’s craft, or the law of the Country, but the law is always the frame within which men must live and perform their obligations to other men, even if it demanded abnegation and self-sacrifice, given freely, without thought of reward.
At the end, I can say that the reading of this book it’s been surely a good experience. More that for the adventures that wait the young Kim (that will show great courage and an incredible “cold-blood”), the romance has fascinated me for the description of India’s life and of its wonderful landscapes.
Following Kim and the Lama, we find us on the “pestiferous” shores of the Gange or in the loneliness of the Tibetan peaks, while the charm of the nature penetrate into our mind, as if we are here with Kim and the Lama. I like a lot also the Buddhist conception of life described in the book, the way of behave, the existence based only on rigorous and valid principles, the religion’s ones, and on the respect of those.
Kim, that at the beginning of his adventure had dreams that remembered the fables (maybe I’ll be the King), with the hard experience of life and also with the healty contact with the nature grow up, mature, take conscience of himself and of his valours, arriving at a mistic-utilitarian vision of life.
Under the appearance of a book for children, the romance face very deep problems, like the relation between man and society, the conflict between the traditional valours of the oriental religions and the cold English ratiocination.
And are just these the reasons that have been fundamental for my personal interest. From those things I’ve deduced a final conclusion: according to me, Kim represents the verginity of the conscience and the Lama the conscience that became reconciled after the experience; they are two essential stages in the life of a man and also the bases of Kipling’s world.
Fabio Salerni