Quest for Kim
This book is for all those who love Kim, the masterpiece of Indian life in which Kipling immortalized the Great Game, the centuries-old power struggle between Russia and Great Britain in the depths of Central Asia. Fascinated since childhood by this strange tale of an orphan boy's recruitment into the Indian secret service, Peter Hopkirk here explores the many mysteries surrounding Kipling's great novel.
"The truth is that Rudyard Kipling is not much in favor these days. That is not surprising, given the poor current reputation of colonialism, of which Kipling's stories were a kind of literary expression. But to Peter Hopkirk, Kipling and especially Kim, probably his best-known work, are a window into a complex, colorful, romantic and crackling good history that ought not to be judged by today's standards. In Quest for Kim, Mr. Hopkirk, a former journalist of The Times of London and the author of several books on Central Asia, has written a very personal appreciation of a novel that inspired much of the activity of his own life. . . . Hopkirk, probably more than any other contemporary writer, has made a career out of the historical adventures of Europeans in Central and South Asia. . . . [What] Mr. Hopkirk demonstrates most clearly is that exuberant, gorgeous, outlandish India itself is the main character of Kipling's book, India under the Raj and worried about czarist expansion southward. . . . These tales of intrigue set against the fakir-and-maharajah background of 19th-century India quite obviously continue to delight Mr. Hopkirk. And why not? If nothing else, his book is a reminder of just how absorbing was the world Kipling knew, and how fabulous was his transformation of it into literature."
--Richard Bernstein, New York Times
"In an original combination of autobiography, travel writing, and literary detective work, Hopkirk manages accessibly to tell the story of Kim and his own obsession with it. Hopkirk illustrates how creatively and thoroughly the reading of a work of fiction can shape a whole life's experience."
--John R. Bradley, Independent on Sunday
"This is a fascinating, brilliantly written book, as interesting in its description of the author's journeys as it is in its investigation of the reality that lies behind 'the finest novel in the English language with an Indian theme,'" as Kim has been described by Nirad Chaudhuri."
--T. J. Binyon, Times Literary Supplement
"Kim cultists will be fascinated by Hopkirk's endeavors to pinpoint the exotic locales mentioned in the novel and to identify the real-life models Kipling used to create his memorable characters. . . . Hopkirk, who has published several books about the historic struggle for Central Asia--what Kipling called 'The Great Game' in his novel--made a tour of all the places mentioned in the story, from central India to the Himalayas. His account of his quest for Kim will not only fascinate Kim fans but may also inspire others to pick up Kipling's masterpiece to see what they have missed."
--AP Special Features
". . . Quest for Kim is a declaration of love, a reflection of an unabashed passion for a book, an author, a period of history, and en entire subcontinent and its people. Hopkirk has built his career upon chronicling the imperial struggle between Victorian England and czarist Russia for hegemony in India and Central Asia, and reading , Kim, he freely admits, launched him on that career. . . . Hopkirk is a popular historian in the best sense of the word, and Quest for Kim demonstrates this wonderfully. Hopkirk's sheer enjoyment of his search, his repayment of his 'debt' to Kipling, and his cheerful acceptance that some things may always remain a mystery, make this a most enjoyable book--which will no doubt spur readers to revisit Kipling's original, yet again."