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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Staff

Academic Staff

Publication details for Dr Roisin Laing

McCloskey, Roisín (2015). 'The Charismatic Adolescent in Rudyard Kipling's Kim'. International Research in Children's Literature 8(1): 75-88.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

This article uses Max Weber's model of charismatic authority to analyse the role of the adolescent protagonist of Rudyard Kipling's Kim. Kim's charisma means that the radical instability he represents is highly appealing to the reader: Kim plays the Great Game for its own sake, rather than in support of English authority, and invites the reader similarly to enjoy reading Kim for its own sake, rather than for the meaning to be established at the end. However, this article argues that Kim's adolescence and what Weber calls the ‘routinization’ with which charisma must end imply an imagined end to Kim's potentially revolutionary energies. By representing radical potential in charismatic form, Kim is a highly attractive representation of the permanent process of colonialism and its instabilities; he also promises a ‘routinized’ adulthood in which his own radical potential, and the instabilities it represents, can be imagined to end.

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