© and (P)1997, 2007 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
Wonderful reading captures the varied voices of the characters from many cultures within India, our street urchin Kim, the Tibetan Lama, a Muslim horse-trader, Irish priest, and a variety of upright Englishmen as well as folks from several castes. Kipling's story ranges all over India, his language is descriptive without excess, and the plot has never a dull moment. A tale I'll gladly hear again and share with others.
WIth a scope as broad as the world and as narrow as a single boy, Kipling creates a masterful work. Though we associate him with jingoism and colonial oppression, "Kim" illustrates the author's ambivalence in a way that dashed my preconceptions about him. Unless I'm sorely mistaken, Kim's wisdom and humanity really blossom in his interactions with the natives of India. His innate guile - what catapults him to importance in the "Great Game" - is an act, and only effective because so many odd and wonderful characters willingly put their trust in him. Even the minor characters Kipling draws most broadly and closest to stereotype possess an ineluctable complexity.
The narrator alone would rate five stars.
Kim is a fascinating and unique story from the colonial period written with great empathy and insight into the characters portrayed. San Dastor does an excellent job, recreating Kipling's colorful world of English colonials, Indian characters from various locals, religions and walks of life, and Kim, a memorable creation from the pen of a truly gifted author. Now I know why people of my parents and grandparents generation loved Kipling.
The most interesting, and shocking fact about history is just how young so many of the military commanders and leaders actually were down through time. One of the most famous, Alexander III of Macedon, was barely into his 20's when he began conquering the known world. Wars today are still fought by people the same age as Alexander (some even younger), and there will always be glory in war for a young man wanting to make a name for himself.
Kim begins with a gun, a giant canon representing the strength, struggle, and oppression of India and the people who wanted control of the subcontinent. The book ends with a choice. In between we get the education of young Kim by his elders who see great promise in this talented, smart, cunning, and devious boy. Some wish to use him for the Great Game, that struggle for control over India (and now Pakistan), others wish to see him stay true to his native people (though little do they know he's actually white - a 'Sahib'), and one man, Teshoo Lama, wishes to set him on the path of 'the way', the true path of eternal salvation and freedom from sin.
And this struggle for Kim's soul - both figuratively and literally - makes up the heart of the book, and not so much for the character's sake, bot for our own. Kipling is forcing us to decide which way we would choose to go (war, peace, or indifference) by letting us inhabit a main character who makes us feel smarter than we probably are in real life, more cunning than we are even on our best of days, braver, stronger, and more experienced than we would admit to being and then leaving the final decision open to our own interpretation as a test to see what we would do with Kim's talents and teachers influence.
The novel does seem to aim for an audience of boys aged somewhere between 10 and 16 and Kipling does seem to be square in the camp of hoping young men will grow up to choose the way of peace, like the Lama, yet he doesn't beat you over the head with his morality, either. The life of the Great Game is very exciting, could lead to great renown, money, women, respect: all the things us boys dream of when we're young (and pretty much till the day we die old men, too). And even the simple life of just living your life out with basic comfort, a family, your head down and nose clean (the typical life most of us wind up choosing) is here seen as exotic, profitable, and, at the least, interesting.
In fact considering how much of the novel is focused on the relationship between Kim and the Lama and how relatively little is devoted to a more exciting life, goes to show just how difficult it is to steer people away from war, from vain glory, from 'illusion' as the Lama would say. Just one encounter with a spy, with a Russian with a gun, with a mysterious gem trader can nearly undo years of fellowship with a peaceful Lama whose earthly reward is begging and heavenly reward is uncertain.
And so looking deeper into these decisions it seems much clearer how in that particular part of the world even today it's not so difficult to see why young men chose to join up with groups that offer far more attractive and comfortable rewards here on Earth instead of following the ways of a prophet. Life in Pakistan and the surrounding area is harsh, dangerous, other cultures and foreigners look down on them as dirty and stupid, there are no real opportunities, and so it's not hard to understand why on the one hand even a powerful religion such as Islam can teach peace and on the other young men will kill in the name of it.
So in many ways that I doubt Kipling would have ever imagined, Kim is a very relevant novel today that teaches us quite a bit about ourselves as well as the people of an 'exotic' land in the middle east and subcontinent. Kipling shows us the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil, and though he aims for a younger audience, the book is filled with a wisdom that is well beyond the age of the intended reader.
I am a little uncomfortable with some of the generalizations Kipling paints with concerning nearly all the ethnicity. Mahbub Ali, a Muslim, is dangerously close to the stereotypical dangerous and shady Afghan Muslim, Hurree is a buffoon even when he's tough as nails and brilliant, Creighton is far too fatherly and pretty much stands for all of British colonialism, the two chaplains (a Catholic and a Protestant) are comic relief, and even the Lama seems very one-dimensional and straight out of a bad Hollywood interpretation of the wise, Tibetan monk.
Yet there is also real friendship between Kim and the Lama that transcends the page and in moments of crisis for the two of them genuinely had me worried for the outcome and that strength of the friendship helps sell the idea of the way of peace in the face of so many more tempting options. And it's that friendship on the page, the real art of the novel that made me really love the book despite its flaws.
I first met Kim at High School. It was a setbook for our English Literature class. That was over 60 years ago!! I have carried that book around the world with me - I travel quite a lot - and read it on planes and trains. Sometime ago I found out about a version on DVD, which I purchased. Now I have it for my computer and MP3 player (which I listen to on my treadmill) and I am still listening to it. Mr Kipling encapsulated the essence of the time in History and where it took place to perfection. Thanks for the audible version.
When he gets acquainted with Llama.
No I have never listened to any other Sam Dastor performances to my knowledge.
No, it is the kind of book which must be listened to in its separate parts. However, if the occasion arose, it could well be listened to all in one sitting.
Do some more audio books like this please.
I finally read this classic because I wanted the background on the character when reading "The Game" by Laurie R. King as part of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. What I got was a stunning and fulfilling experience that I wouldn't have missed for the world!
Not being an expert on Indian dialects, I can't say if Sam Dastor's narration is technically correct, but it is perfect for enhancing the listening experience. I came to know and love the many characters as though they were real people, and Dastor's performance was what brought them to life.
The story itself was one that the summary didn't really prepare me for. I had at first thought that this tale of wandering through what for me is an alien culture wouldn't be something that could involve and capture me on a personal level. But I discovered that some things are truly universal, regardless of the cultural trappings, and I was captivated. Like so many in the tale who came to love him, Kim is one of those characters who somehow worked his way into my heart and I will carry him with me for many years to come. The same must be said of Kim's holy man. Other characters have written themselves in my heart as well.
I am so glad, whatever the outside motivation, that I finally read this book and had the opportunity to meet and love Kim and all of those around him. My only regret is that I deprived myself of knowing Kim for so long.
Sam Dastor is the perfect reader for this -- his careful and sensitive reading of so many different Indian voices is fantastic.
Who knew that this was all about the training of a spy? A fascinating tale by one of the worlds best storytellers. I may listen to this again it's so good. These characters will be in my mind forever. Take your time and enjoy it.
I would listen to Kim again-I like the story and have read it several times - also the narrator is absolutely superb in capturing the accents and cadences of all characters.
Perfect voicing of all characters.
Yes, but I haven't got that big a swath of time - so listening in chapters is just great.
The narrator of this book did a wonderful job in capturing the multitude of voices presented by Rudyard Kipling in this book. It's a glimpse into colonial India that we don't hear any more. Kipling tells the story with sympathy and a command of the language that still impresses. I was touched more than once by his descriptions of Kim's travels about India and the people he meets along the way. Give it a listen, you won't be disappointed.
A splendid book, beautifully read. Moving, amusing, informative. A book to savour - again and again.
Such a great pleasure, a classic novel of course but what is better than a reader you feel is thoroughly enjoying himself? The reader keeps his tone fairly flat in the narration, but this is only to prepare a canvas for his cast of characters, each of whom gets a vividly individual voice. I have no idea if they are accurate accents, they're rather music-hall versions maybe but they work extremely well with Kipling. You can anticipate his delight when he gets to do a conversation between a Frenchman and a Russian. A great version.
A beautiful book, beautifully read.
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