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The Siege of Krishnapur (1973)

av J. G. Farrell

Serier: Empire Trilogy (2)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,809596,647 (4.03)468
"India, 1857 - the year of the Great Mutiny, when Muslim soldiers turned in bloody rebellion on their British overlords. This time of convulsion is the subject of J. G. Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur, widely considered one of the finest British novels of the last fifty years." "Farrell's story is set in an isolated Victorian outpost on the subcontinent. Rumors of strife filter in from afar, and yet the members of the colonial community remain confident of their military and, above all, moral superiority. But when they find themselves under actual siege, the true character of their dominion - at once brutal, blundering, and wistful - is soon revealed." "The Siege of Krishnapur is a companion to Troubles, about the Easter 1916 rebellion in Ireland, and The Singapore Grip, which takes place just before World War II, as the sun begins to set upon the British Empire. Together these three novels offer a picture of the follies of empire."--BOOK JACKET.… (mer)
  1. 70
    The Singapore Grip av J. G. Farrell (kidzdoc)
    kidzdoc: The third novel in Farrell's Empire Trilogy, which is about the fall of the British Empire in 1930s Singapore.
  2. 60
    Troubles av J. G. Farrell (kidzdoc)
    kidzdoc: The first novel in Farrell's Empire Trilogy, which was awarded the Lost Man Booker Prize for the best novel of 1970.
  3. 50
    Dagar i Burma av George Orwell (lmichet, Philosofiction)
    lmichet: Another work of biting commentary about the British in India
  4. 20
    Juvelen i kronan av Paul Scott (Cecrow)
  5. 20
    Vår man i Havanna av Graham Greene (terrazoon)
    terrazoon: Good satires are hard to find. Although the subject matter is different, if you like one you will probably like the other.
  6. 10
    English Passengers av Matthew Kneale (Rynooo)
    Rynooo: English Passengers is an awesome work of historical fiction - it is by turns hilarious, shocking and thought provoking.
  7. 00
    The Far Pavilions av M. M. Kaye (mcenroeucsb)
  8. 12
    Pojken i randig pyjamas av John Boyne (chrisschoeters)
    chrisschoeters: Beautiful, amazingly simple but emotionally complex. I would recommend this book to alle readers older than 14!
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The Siege of Krishnapur is historical fiction operating on a number of different levels. At its most basic the novel describes the sepoy rebellion against the British in India in 1857. If this was all the novel was I would qualify it as excellent. From the beginning when the Collector, the head of the Krishnapur outpost, tries to convince others of the forthcoming revolt, you are pulled into the middle of events that move forward quickly. You watch as the Collector attempts to respond, manage and adapt in order to protect lives, including his own daughters. The Collector seems at times cold and calculating and at other times empathetic and humane. He is struggling with the conflicting motivations, variables and possible outcomes often faced by a leader in a crisis. His decisions and actions are strategic and timely, while the actions of many of his officers are heroic.

Along with the historical events we get the description and subtle critique of British colonialism, British culture, and the impact of that culture and its underlying principles on India. Effectively, we get to see how the efforts of the British create only the thinest of veneers over the cultural depths of India, ultimately making few permanent changes. We also observe contrasting changes in individuals, as one advocate of the focus of British culture on "things" comes to understand the limited value of things and possessions in changing anything for the natives of a British colony; while another character who initially finds no value in possessions and material goals but sees real value in feelings and spirit converts over time to the traditional British focus on acquisition and ownership, losing sight of his original vision.

An extremely well-written novel with excellent pacing and characters who change significantly in response to the events and experiences in the novel. ( )
  afkendrick | Oct 24, 2020 |
I need to preface this review by stating that the conclusion of The Siege of Krishnapur is one of most powerful bits of writing I’ve ever read. I found it oddly moving and deeply affecting. Part Four of this novel forced me to go back and reconsider all of my opinions about the rest of the book. It was almost enough to cause me to write a very different review than what follows.

Of course, the relevant word in that sentence is “almost”...

I had some real trouble getting into this book. It didn’t manage to fully engage me until I was several pages into Part Two – and that's just because I like a good war story. Getting through Part One was a chore. At least Parts Two & Three read quickly.

I think I may be the only person who likes Farrell’s novel Troubles better than this one.

Which is strange when you consider how incredibly well written The Siege of Krishnapur is! I completely understand why it won the Booker. It’s a wonderfully accomplished work! In fact, I would go so far as to say that it’s better written than Troubles. Or, maybe more accurately, the contrast between the two novels illustrates what a talented writer Farrell really is. The style, tone, and atmosphere of each is so different! It always impresses me when a writer can command such various authorial voices to great effect.

I think the best way to explain my problem with Siege is to cite one of the reviews from the dust jacket on the copy I read:

“A suggestion made by T. S. Eliot, about the possibility of constructing a work of art on two levels with very different kinds of appeal, has been brilliantly used in The Siege of Krishnapur.” – Julian Symons, The Sunday Times

This novel is absolutely masterful on one level – it’s a brilliant critique of Victorian attitudes and culture during the autumn years of the British Empire. It’s subtle, incisive, unmerciful, and historically apt – just the way I like my satire!

Where it fails for me is on the other level, the level of story. I never cared about any of the characters. I understand that their function is to embody the worldview and culture being criticized – but there’s a fine line between using characters as negative examples and making them largely unsympathetic. Exemplars of the Culture they may be – but they still have to be people living in the world. They still need to function as characters in the story.

I liked Miriam – she seems like the kind of woman who will shortly get the Suffrage Movement underway – but so little of the story is told from her point of view. I suppose the Collector is the most sympathetic character, as he’s the only one who comes to question his previously held imperialistic view of India, as well as his faith in Science and Progress, to any great extent – but he’s still an overbearing, misogynistic, Victorian patriarch. I found the characters in this novel pathetic. I spent the entire book wanting to slap them.

Which is a good thing, insofar as it's a testament to the ultimate effectiveness of Farrell’s cultural criticism – but it didn’t make for an enjoyable reading experience. Victorian attitudes and the culture of British Imperialism have always offended me on a deeply personal level. I don't like spending this much time immersed in them, even if it is in the service of satire. ( )
  johnthelibrarian | Aug 11, 2020 |
Later, while he was drinking tea at the table in his bedroom with three young subalterns from Captainganj a succession of musket balls came through the winder, attracted by the oil-lamp . . . one, two, three and then a fourth, one after another. The officers dived smartly under the table, leaving the Collector to drink his tea alone. After a while they
re-emerged smiling sheepishly, deeply impressed by the Collector’s sang-froid. Realizing that he had forgotten to sweeten his tea, the Collector dipped a teaspoon into the sugar-bowl. But then he found that he was unable to keep the sugar on the spoon: as quickly as he scooped it up, it danced off again. It was clear that he would never get it from the sugar-bowl to the cup without scattering it over the table, so in the end he was obliged to push the sugar away and drink his tea unsweetened.

The Siege of Krishnapur sounded fascinating - a depiction of the fall of the British Empire illustrated in a small town in Northern India.

I don't know whether this book fell victim to my reading slump, or whether it just missed the mark with me, but I could not get interested in any of the characters or the story, and on finishing, I don't even know whether I would have finished it at all if it had not won the Booker in 1973.

It seems to me that The Siege of Krishnapur is one of those books that may have made more of an impression at the time it was written, but that has lost some of its appeal over time. Maybe the expectation of the book is to defy any nostalgia towards imperialism in its reader. But what if there is nothing to left to defy?

I don't know. This book maybe just wasn't for me. ( )
1 rösta BrokenTune | Jul 14, 2020 |
My main admiration for this novel is that it managed to be both masterfully written and really awful at the same time.

Farrell makes his British characters pay and pay and pay for the crimes of colonization, in brutally absurd scenes. Characters are spared no degradation and yet they never lose their bone-headed, obstinate British-ness, or the certainty of their superiority. Ha, ha.

This novel's peculiar balance between: 1) "wow, this is written so well" with 2) "my god, this is making me sick" kept me reading until the end, in a rubber-necky sort of way. I was still reading with sick fascination when I came to a scene near the end when a besieged British subject confronts his enemy and kills him after a series of silly false starts--jammed guns, knives too tightly wrapped in his cummerbund to pull out when he needs them, the discovery of some handy violin strings--and he then manages to blow his enemy away so completely that only a pair of legs is left standing. Like all the other scenes in this novel, this scene is so breathtakingly well-written, and so awful.

I feel a little sick. I've discovered I don't enjoy reading cartoon scenes about a tragic historical event when many people died. I'm sure this worked better at the time when it was written, in 1973. Indeed the feeling I got from it reminded me a great deal of how I felt after consuming another masterpiece of that era, Fellini's Satyricon. ( )
  poingu | Feb 22, 2020 |
This is a novel of change. Set in 1857 and based on the Siege of Lucknow, at a far remote Indian outpost, many miles from Calcutta, it tells the story of the mutiny of the native sepoys but more importantly, solidifies the total ignorance of the British in thinking their superiority over all things, but especially over these Indians that they are determined to educate in one way or another, will always prevail. Farrell has written an incredibly nuanced satire that points out how wrong the British were, even a year before Queen Victoria signed a proclamation formally naming India a part of the British Empire. At the time of the siege, The East India Company was ruling India with a violent hand implemented by the British military.

There are few named Indian characters in a story where they are the main object and somehow this method is part of Farrell’s brilliance. The British treat them with so little respect that they are nearly invisible. Until they’re not and the British are forced to confront the reality of the state of their lives during the five months that the siege lasts. Besides the obvious bodies piling up as a result of the shelling of the Residency, where all the British are forced to retreat, they are fighting an outbreak of cholera, the intense heat common in the sub continent, intense insect infestations to the area and this:

"The smell, which was so atrocious that the butchers had to work with cloths tied over their noses, came from rejected offal which they were in the habit of throwing over the wall in the hope that the vultures would deal with it. But the truth was that the scavengers of the district, both birds and animals, were already thoroughly bloated from the results of the first attack…the birds were so heavy with meat that they could hardly launch themselves into the air, the jackals could hardly drag themselves back to their lairs."

Loaded with complex characters whose interaction provide thought-provoking narrative conflict, they wait for the arrival of the saving military regiment but steadily lose hope that they will ever be rescued. This book won the Booker prize in 1973 and rightly so. Just absolutely brilliant. ( )
4 rösta brenzi | Aug 27, 2019 |
Visa 1-5 av 59 (nästa | visa alla)
Farrell is the funniest novelist in English since Evelyn Waugh, with the same eye for the absurd as Tom Sharpe. This is the fictitious account, hilarious and horrifying by turns, of a besieged British garrison which held out for four months in the summer of 1857, the year of the Great Indian Mutiny, against a horde of native Sepoys. Despite the omens, the young British cavalry officers continue to indulge their taste for galloping into the nearest memsahib's drawing room, jumping over the sofas and then filling their sola topis with champagne instead of water to quench their horses' thirst. It is left to the Governor of Krishnapur, a sensitive, cultured man with a collection of treasures in his residence, to prepare for the siege. By the end of it cholera, starvation and the Sepoys have done for most of the inhabitants, who are reduced to eating beetles and, in the absence of powder and shot, loading their cannons with monogrammed silver cutlery and false teeth. The final retreat of the British, still doggedly stiff-upper-lipped, through the pantries, laundries, music rooms and ballroom of the residency, using chandeliers and violins as weapons, is a comic delight. And so is the usually serious Tim Pigott-Smith, whose repertoire of characters, from petulant maharajas to pink-faced subalterns - "I say, may we come in, we've come to relieve you" - is dazzling.
tillagd av kidzdoc | ändraThe Guardian, Sue Arnold (Sep 24, 2005)
 
1974-09-30

Farrell can write with a fury to match his theme. As spectacle, The Siege of Krishnapur has the blaze and the agony of a scenario for hell. But as moral commentary, it is overcalculated—and its ironies unsuitably neat.
 
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Anyone who has never before reached Krishnapur, and who approaches from the east, is likely to think that he has reached the end of his journey a few miles sooner than he expected.
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"India, 1857 - the year of the Great Mutiny, when Muslim soldiers turned in bloody rebellion on their British overlords. This time of convulsion is the subject of J. G. Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur, widely considered one of the finest British novels of the last fifty years." "Farrell's story is set in an isolated Victorian outpost on the subcontinent. Rumors of strife filter in from afar, and yet the members of the colonial community remain confident of their military and, above all, moral superiority. But when they find themselves under actual siege, the true character of their dominion - at once brutal, blundering, and wistful - is soon revealed." "The Siege of Krishnapur is a companion to Troubles, about the Easter 1916 rebellion in Ireland, and The Singapore Grip, which takes place just before World War II, as the sun begins to set upon the British Empire. Together these three novels offer a picture of the follies of empire."--BOOK JACKET.

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Utgåvor: 159017092X, 1590173732

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