This article examines Kipling's 1901 novel Kim in light of the period's contemporary geopolitical events, arguing that the novel imagines both the end of the British Empire and a utopian state in which empire is static and eternal. The essay uncovers a parallel between the geographic regions on India's periphery, toward which the novel's action drives but which it never ultimately reaches, and two “developmental genres,” the picaresque and the bildungsroman, which the novel holds in tension. It argues further that whereas earlier studies of Kim and the bildungsroman have explained Kim's thwarted temporality as a novel about a period newly unmoored from the stabilizing concept of the nation-state, they do not account for the politicized space of Kipling's South Asia. This article shows that just as temporal development was becoming more open-ended and abstract, spatial development in the non-European world was becoming increasingly circumscribed. Kim therefore requires not just a youthful hero and a deferred Bildung but also an unreachable region—Central Asia, to India's north—and a thwarted picaresque narrative in order to represent the newly burgeoning globalized order.

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