Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


I think it would be a very good idea

J.G.Farrell, The Siege of Krishnapur: The sesquicentennial of the Sepoy Mutiny (so called) provided a spur to start, but Farrell's style and voice (reminiscent of Penelope Fitzgerald's, spare and wry) carries the tale. Based largely on the siege of Lucknow, the perspective is limited to the confines of the insular and obtuse British colonial community, justifying their presence by the benefits of modernising civilisation they purportedly bring but keep to themselves. Part of the genius of this darkly comedic novel is that even without external reference, they indict themselves by pragmatically compromising core principles whilst rigidly observing proprieties and upholding (or at least keeping up the pretense of) the minutiae of social codes of honour amongst themselves (out-of-date though they may be relative to the Home Country). Another part of the genius is recognising that a reader with only a sketchy notion of the history will find the understated ironies apparent; yet another part of it is how well disguised a novel of ideas this is. And, while some metonymy to the situation of Indian expats in the postwar Commonwealth may have been intended, Farrell could not have anticipated how this might currently resonate in the information technology services industry. This book has provided a spur not only to pick up the rest of Farrell's Empire eutrilogy, but to investigate Indian literature beyond my passing familiarity with the headliners (a problem compounded by a literary economy that differentiates between domestic consumption and export -- translations can be hard to come by -- pointers welcomed).


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