Imagining enlightenment : Buddhism and Kipling's Kim

Paskins, Susan Karin (2017) Imagining enlightenment : Buddhism and Kipling's Kim. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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In this thesis I situate Kipling’s shaping of Buddhist ideas in Kim against the background of Victorian constructions of the religion, deriving from scholarly, popular, Christian and theosophical positions. Kipling’s presentation of the lama in Kim challenges many of these interpretations since Kipling fashions himself as one who ‘knows’ about Buddhism, just as he claims to be one of the ‘native-born’ who understands India. I trace Kipling’s hostility to the missionary endeavour and also show his deep-rooted antagonism to theosophy, as manifest in three of his short stories as well as in Kim. Comparing Kim and The Light that Failed, I show that both novels deal with Kipling’s childhood experiences in Southsea, the one imagining the adult he could have been, and the other a fantasy of what life could have been like had he stayed in India and fully immersed himself in its religious life. Kipling’s biographical self-positioning thus motivates various degrees of resistance to and recrafting of the Victorian construction of Buddhism. The thesis presents a reading of Kim in which consideration of its religious ideas takes precedence over the post-colonialist analysis that has dominated critical approaches to the novel in recent decades.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
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School/Department: School of Arts > English & Humanities
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2017 12:29
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2017 12:29

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