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Tony Grist

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Kim [Jan. 23rd, 2014|11:47 am]
Tony Grist
1. Who is Kim? Good question. Kim has a whole portfolio of identities-everything from Sahib to low-caste Hindu. Which is the real one? Stupid question.

The character with the strongest and most settled identity- Teshoo Lama- is the one who values it least.

Playing the Great Game is also a way of breaking free of the Wheel. A spy has no caste, no fixed persona, no bonds. Hurree Chunder Moockerjee is a very fearful man because it suits him. He is and he isn't. He has arranged for his timidity to serve him.

Persona is a courtesy we offer to the world so it will know how to deal with us. We're fools if we allow ourselves to be taken in by what we say we are.

Kim is almost free of the Wheel. The only thing that brings him back to it is love- love of particular persons, love of the Wheel itself.

2. Kim is a very short book that expands in the memory. It contains the whole of British India- or seems to. Kipling is a writer who sees no need to go on and on about a thing once it is said; let the reader do the fleshing out.
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Comments:
From: cmcmck
2014-01-23 11:51 am (UTC)
'Persona is a courtesy we offer to the world so it will know how to deal with us. We're fools if we allow ourselves to be taken in by what we say we are.'

And this you tell to me? :o)

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-01-23 12:25 pm (UTC)
Lots of people have yet to work it out. :)
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2014-01-23 01:33 pm (UTC)
As I recall, Kim spent some little time pondering that question of "Who is Kim?" I liked Teshoo Lama's name for him: "Little Friend of All The World."

I come back to that book at least once a year. The 50s film is lacking in everything except a delicious Mahbub Ali played by Errol Flynn, who rears back, arms akimbo, and laughs suspiciously like Robin Hood.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-01-23 02:08 pm (UTC)
Kim asks himself the question "Who is Kim?" at least twice. Maybe it's three times.

I've more or less forgotten the movie. I think it's best if I keep it that way. Golden Age Hollywood really wasn't equipped to handle material like this.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2014-01-23 05:13 pm (UTC)
They took liberties with the plot, and much of the acting was meh, but ths scenery was worth the trip. Dean Stockwell was pretty good as Kim, I thought. And Errol Flynn was a hoot and a half. Here's the trailer, which boasts of being filmed in India. EF does his famous laugh at 00:43.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5hqKsMyPsk
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-01-23 06:31 pm (UTC)
Nice scenery.

And an excellent laugh.

I don't remember anyone getting shot at point blank range in the book.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2014-01-26 01:35 pm (UTC)
I don't remember Mahbub Ali confronting the Russian spies, either. Clearly, liberties were taken. But yes, it's nice scenery and very 50s. I bought the DVD from the dollar bin some years ago.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-01-27 09:17 am (UTC)
No, he doesn't go anywhere near them. The spies are dealt with by Hurree Babu- which is sort of the point. Kim is somewhat scornful of Hurree and learns better.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2014-01-28 03:29 am (UTC)
Hurree Babu is a fearful man. He was fearful all the way down the mountain with those two ever-so-clever Russians.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2014-02-03 05:37 pm (UTC)
Having just re-read "Something of Myself," I'm back to "Kim" again, a book that Kipling described as "picaresque."

Interesting how one's vantage point changes with age. When I read it first, I read it through Kim's eyes. Then for years I read it through the eyes of all the older characters who went Sherlocking about -- Strickland Sabib, Lurgan Sahib, Hurree Babu, Mahbub Ali.

Now I am reading it through the eyes of Teshoo Lama and the Curator of the Wonder House. (I imagine I'll read through the eyes of the old woman on pilgrimage when I get to her.)

Have you seen the wonderful illustrations that Kipling's father did for the book? They weren't in my earlier cheaper edition, but they're in this edition semi de luxe. If you haven't seen them, you might want to check out Wikipedia, which seems to have corralled the lot of them.

Edited at 2014-02-03 05:38 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-02-03 08:17 pm (UTC)
Something of Myself is wonderful.

Kim took me by suprise on this latest reading. there seemed to be so many things I'd missed or failed to understand before.

I collected my Kiplings back in the 70s when he was deeply unfashionable and you could buy early editions- even first editions- for next to nothing. So, yes, I've seen Lockwood Kipling's illustrations. They're splendid.
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