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This article is about the novel by Rudyard Kipling. For alternate meanings, see Kim (disambiguation).

Kim is a spy novel and picaresque novel, written by Rudyard Kipling and first published in 1901. The story is set against the backdrop of The Great Game, the political conflict between Russia and Britain in Central Asia.



Kim (Kimball O'Hara) is an orphan son of a British soldier (Sahib). He runs free on the streets of Lahore and incidentally makes contact with the British secret service through one of their native operatives. He attaches himself to a Tibetan Lama who is on a quest to be freed from the Wheel of Life. Kipling inserted a cameo appearance of his father John Lockwood Kipling who was the curator of the Lahore Museum into the scene where Kim meets the Lama. Kim becomes the Lama's chela, or disciple, but is also used by the British to carry a message to the British commander in Umballa. Kim's trip with the Lama along the Grand Trunk Road is the first great adventure in the novel.

Along the way, Kim is recognized by chaplain of his father's army regiment and sent to school in Lucknow, but keeps in touch with the Lama and also with his secret service connections. He is trained in espionage; the game of looking at a tray full of mixed objects and noting which have been added or taken away is still used for training spies and is still called "Kim's Game".

Kim rejoins the lama and together they make a trip to the Himalaya, this time capturing papers from Russian spies but at the same time the Lama continues his spiritual quest. At the end of the novel, Kim is undecided between the spiritual life of the Lama and the life of action at which he excels.

Influences on other works

Two novels by John Eyton, Kullu and the Carts and Kullu and the Elephant (c. 1929), are clearly derivative of Kim; likewise, Eyton's Jungle-born (1925) appears to borrow elements from the Jungle Books.

External link


  • Quest for Kim: In Search of Kipling's Great Game by Peter Hopkirk (1997) ISBN 0472086340 -- the author visits the locations of the novel and discusses the real-life personages that may have possibly inspired its charactersfr:Kim (roman)



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