The Best English-Language Fiction of the Twentieth Century
A Composite List and Ranking
by Brian Kunde


<- Kipling, Rudyard, 1865-1936.
         Full name: Joseph Rudyard Kipling. English fiction writer and poet born in Bombay, India and raised in England; he returned to India as a young adult, and the subcontinent informs much of his literary work. One of the most popular English writers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he continues to be celebrated for his poetry, short stories and children's fiction, particularly the feral child tales of Mowgli gathered in The Jungle Book (1894) and The Second Jungle Book (1895). Much of Kipling's writing explores the lives of British soldiers. Simplistically and erroneously stigmatized after his death as a jingoistic apologist for empire, his work is much more subtle and nuanced than his critics credit. Kim is considered his masterpiece. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.
  • <- Kim. 1901.
             Young Kimball O'Hara, orphaned son of an Irish soldier, grows up as a child of the streets and sometime informant in India. He befriends and takes up with Teshoo Lama, an aged Tibetan monk on a quest for the legendary River of the Arrow, becoming his chela or disciple. Their pilgrimage is interrupted when Kim's heritage is recognized and he is forced into an English boarding school in Lucknow. The lama, valuing education, funds the boy's schooling. Kim is also trained in espionage, as the English authorities hope to make him a player in the "Great Game" for influence in Central Asia between Britain and Russia. Afterwards Kim rejoins his lama and their quest, but subtly redirects it into regions of interest to his superiors, his notion of predestination convincing him that the result will be appropriate to both causes. The crisis of the novel comes with an encounter with Russian agents that leaves Kim injured but possessed of important intelligence. During his recovery the lama reports that he has found his river and achieved enlightenment for himself and his chela. Adapted to film in 1950 and television in 1960 and 1984.

Posted Dec. 9, 2013, and last updated Dec. 9, 2013.
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Published by Fleabonnet Press.
The source list data is public domain.
Additional material © 1999-2013 by Brian Kunde.