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River of Smoke av Amitav Ghosh
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River of Smoke (urspr publ 2011; utgåvan 2011)

av Amitav Ghosh (Författare)

Serier: The Ibis Trilogy (2)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygDiskussioner / Omnämnanden
1,0165319,938 (3.93)1 / 353
Amid a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal, three vessels, and the diverse occupants within, converge on Canton's Fanqui-Town, or Foreign Enclave, which is a powder keg awaiting a spark to ignite the Opium Wars.
Medlem:Jiskett
Titel:River of Smoke
Författare:Amitav Ghosh (Författare)
Info:John Murray Publishers (2011), Edition: First Edition, 528 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek, Läser just nu
Betyg:
Taggar:Ingen/inga

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River of Smoke av Amitav Ghosh (2011)

  1. 100
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet av David Mitchell (Tinwara)
    Tinwara: Mitchells book is set in a similar enclave: the island of Dejima near Nagasaki, where only Dutch merchants were allowed to trade (but not to enter Japan) Set in the year 1799.
  2. 10
    The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China av Julia Lovell (wandering_star)
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» Se även 353 omnämnanden

engelska (49)  franska (2)  italienska (2)  Alla språk (53)
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Une suite Parfaitement autonome quand à la narration. Le tour de force, qui semble tout naturel, de peindre la crise de l'opium tout en gardant un léger brin d'humour... Assurément Amitav Ghosh est un auteur majeur. ( )
  Nikoz | Apr 8, 2023 |
At the End of this Book, England is getting ready to wage war on China because China has tried to stop their importation of opium.

(Hardback 1st American edition farrar, straus and giroux)

At the end of the first book in the trilogy, five from the Ibis, destined for execution, escaped in the storm in the long boat. They reached an island and banged a hole in the bottom of their long boat, and pushed it back out into the ocean. There, they had nothing but the clothes on their backs, and they needed to find a way to buy their passage home. They had heard that on this island there were bird's nest that were eaten by the Chinese and wortb a lot of money. It appears that these men never thought of the harm they were doing to these poor birds when they robbed them of their nests.
P.23:
"The storm had wrought havoc upon this colony and a great number of nests were lying upon the floor. once the feathers, twigs and dust were brushed off, the nests were seen to be of an almost iridescent whiteness; it was evident at a glance that they were made of a substance that was utterly different from the materials which other birds used in fabricating their dwellings – they had the look of works of exquisite craftsmanship, being constructed from fine filaments, laid in a circular pattern. they were so small and light That 70 together scarcely weighed as much as one Cantonese gan or a Chinese catty – about the equivalent of 21 English ounces.
we collected thousands of them and then helped to carry them down to the village. in return for our work, they allowed us to keep a certain quantity -- not enough to make us rich, but certainly enough to afford US onward passages."

Bahram and Zadig Bey had met each other on a ship passage from China to India. One day, zadig brought up the subject of mistresses.
P.62-3:
"One day as they were leaning over to watch the cuffnell's frothing bow wave, Zadig said: when you are away from home, living in China – how do you deal with... With your bodily necessities?
Bahram was never at ease discussing such things and he began to stutter: kya?... What do you mean?
there is nothing shameful in this, you know, said Zadig; it is not just the jism that has its needs but also the rue, the soul – and a man who feels himself to be alone in his own home, does he not have a right to seek companionship elsewhere?
Would you call it a right? Said bahram."

Bahrum does indeed have a mistress in Canton.
P.68:
" 'white hat devil have too muchi big cloth.' 'White hat devil have nother-piece thingi too muchi big.'
the cramped space, the hard edges of the timbers, the rocking of the Sampan and the smell of dried fish that percolated up from the bilges created an almost delirious urgency. love making with shireenbai [the wife] was a clinical affair and their bodies seemed hardly to touch except where necessity demanded. bahram was utterly unprepared for the sweat, the stickiness, the slippages and mistaken gropings, the sudden fart that burst from her when he least expected it."

P.69:
"in March 1815, a few days before bahram's departure for bombay, Chi-mei took his hand and put it on her stomach: 'look-see here, Mr Barry.'
'Chilo?'
'Chilo.'
...
"such was his excitement about the child that he only spent four months in Bombay that year, returning to China at the end of the monsoons. on reaching macau, instead of waiting for a passage-boat to take him upriver he hired a 'fast-crab' to whisk him to canton through the back channels of the Pearl River delta.
and there was the baby, swaddled so as to leave the genitals proudly exposed: when she put the child in his arms he had hugged him so tight that a warm jet had shot out of the boys tiny gu-gu, wetting his face and dripping off his beard."

at this time Bonaparte has been imprisoned on the island of St Helena, and bahrum's boat was passing close by. The few Europeans booked on the passage clamored to meet the French emperor. Bonaparte was not interested until he heard that the zoroastrian bahrum was among the ship's party.
P.150-1:
" 'Bonaparte has stipulated that he will see the others only if he can meet with you first, Mr Moddie.'
'me? But why?' Bahrum cried in astonishment.
'well, Mr moddie, it has come to the bonaparte's ears that there is a zoroastrian prince on the cuffnells.'
'Prince?' Bahram's eyes widened. 'what prince? Why he wants? What he will do with prince?'
The quartermaster cleared his throat before launching on an explanation: 'it appears, Mr moddie, that the Bonaparte had once fancied himself as the Alexander of our age. it was his intention to proceed eastwards from Egypt to Persia and india, in the footsteps of the great Macedonian. he had even dreamt, it seems, of encountering Darius at the gates of persepolis, as had alexander...'
To bahram, as to many of his kin, there was no name more hateful than that of the two-horned greek. The blood rushed to his head and he cried out: 'Chha! What are you talking Alexander-shalexander? You know what that dirty fellow did? Looting palaces, burning temples, haraaming wives – what he did not do? Even boys he was budmashing. Now this new one has come, you think I will go meekly to visit? You think I am mad or what?' "

Robin and Pauline were childhood friends in Bombay. By serendipity, they end up close to each other in Canton, Robin in the Fanqui-town, and Pauline [nicknamed Puggly] on the island of Hong Kong. They send letters to each other by messenger.
P.206-7:
"as for the query with which you ended: why, of course, you can certainly depend on me to do whatever I can to help you with your spoken english! But in the meanwhile, I do strongly urge you to exercise some care in your choice of words. There is nothing wrong of course in speaking words of encouragement to the crew of the redruth, especially when they do their job well, but you must be prudent in how you phrase what you say. knowing you as I do, I understand very well that your motives were wholly innocent when you congratulated the bosun for his fine work on the ship's prow. but you should know puggly dear, that it is not wholly a matter for surprise that he was taken aback by your well-meant sally: I confess that I too would be quite astonished if a young lady of tender years were to felicitate me on my dexterity in 'polishing the foc-stick.' Far be it from me to reproach you for your spontaneity, puggly dear, but you must not always assume that it is safe to transpose French expressions directly into english. The English equivalent of bâton-à-foc, for instance, is definitely not 'Foc-stick' – it is 'jib-boom'.
And no, dear, nor were you well advised to tell the baffled bosun that your intention was only to compliment him on his skill with 'the mighty mast that protrudes from the front'. You should know, my dear princesse de puggleville, that sometimes it is not wise to persist in explaining oneself."

A Cantonese printer, who was fluent in English, had written a pamphlet called 'ghost people talk', translating Cantonese into English, for the shopkeepers.
P.252:
"several years after it's publication the popularity of 'ghost-people-talk' was still undiminished: many vendors and shopkeepers kept a copy at hand, for reference, so it's cover was a familiar sight in Fanqui-town. It featured a drawing of a European in 18th century costume, with knee breeches, stockings, a three-cornered hat and a buckled coat. The figure held a thin cane in one hand, and in the other something that might have been a handkerchief – this at least was the surmise of Compton himself. Handkerchiefs had once been an object of fascination for people in china, he explained to neel; many had believed that Europeans used them to store and transport their snot – in much the same way that thrifty Chinese Farmers carried their excrement to the fields."

There were no Land or sea Animals that were safe from the chomping jaws of Indians, English or Chinese in those days. A description of the'food' at a banquet in Fanqui-town in Canton:
P.268-9:
"The meal began with a round of toasting during which the drinking cups were filled and refilled several times with warm rice wine. then the first set of plates was set upon the table and punhyqua began to describe each of the dishes in turn: here were some 'ears of stone', much loved by monks; they were made from a kind of fish, and were cooked with black vinegar and mushroom; that Tangled heap over there was a mound of crisp-fried shellfish; this quivering lump was a flavoured jelly made from the hooves of deer; those tidbits there were called 'Japanese leather' and had to be macerated for days before they could be eaten; here was a bowl of succulent roasted caterpillars, of a kind to be found only in sugar-cane fields.
'Barry you-like-no-like ah?'
'Too muchi like! Hou-sihk! Hou-sihk!'
unlike some of the other foreigners at the table, bahram did not hesitate to taste any of these dishes: he liked to say of himself that he had no prejudices in regard to ingredients and cared only about flavors and taste. he was glad to pronounce that to an unbiased palate such as his, there could be no doubt of which was the best of these dishes – the plump, cane-sweetened caterpillars.
then came the fashionable new pottage known as 'Buddha jumps over the wall': it was a fujianese delicacy and had been prepared by a chef who had been specially brought in for that purpose. It had taken 2 days to prepare and included some 30 condiments – Crisp shoots of bamboo and slippery sea cucumbers; chewy tendons of pork and juicy sea scallops; tarot root and abalone; fish-lips and mushrooms – a symphony of carefully harmonized contrast of texture and taste, it was reputed to have lured many a monk into breaking his vows."

The new commissioner appointed by the emperor and sent to Canton has forced the merchants importing opium into his port to surrender their opium, otherwise they will not be able to leave.
P.499-500:
"when the destruction of the surrendered opium started, a few days ago, Charlie was one of the few foreigners who was present at the event. he described the scene to me in the most vivid detail and I was so taken with it that I have resolved to make a painting of it – I have already made a few sketches and Charlie tells me they are perfectly accurate!
The scene is set in a small village, not far from the bogue. it is a flat, marshy place, intercut with creeks and surrounded by rice paddies. a field has been marked out, and trenches have been dug; the crates are stacked nearby as they arrive. the commissioner is determined to prevent pilferage so the perimeter is guarded day and night and everyone who works there is searched, before they enter and when they leave.
Day by day the stocks of opium accumulate: the crates rise by the hundreds until they reach a total of 20,381. Their combined value is almost beyond human imagining: Zadig Bey says that to buy it you would need hundreds of tons of silver! Can you conceive of that, Puggly dear – a hillock of silver? And all this opium was intended for sale in a single season: does it not make the mind boggle?)
But there it is, this Great Hill of opium, and the day comes for commissioner Lin to set in motion the process of its destruction. and on the eve of the ceremony, what does the commissioner elect to do? Why, he sits down to write a poem – it is a prayer addressed to the god of the sea asking that all the animals of the water be protected from the poison that will soon be pouring in.
When the time is right he goes to sit in the shade of a raised pavilion. from there he gives the signal for the work to start. The chests are opened, balls of opium are broken up and mixed with salt and lime and then thrown into the water-filled trenches; when the opium melts the sluices are opened and the opium is allowed to drain into the river. it is hard work: 500 men, working long hours, can destroy only about 300 chests a day."



( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
My opinion of this book changed as I continued to read it. It improved a lot around half way, probably when I got to know all the characters. But at the very end, it dropped a little as I got lost again. The story seemed to suddenly skip ahead, but I don't know how long really, as I wasn't keeping up with exact dates during the story. But somehow, to my simple mind, it seemed like the story just suddenly ended without much explanation.

But overall, I loved the book. It was educational to read about life in that part of China almost 200 years ago, especially the contrasts between the two cultures. The thought processes of the traders from England were interesting psychologically. They thought of the Chinese as simple savages to be exploited, and had no regard for their wishes or laws. They were making ungodly amounts of money selling opium against the wishes of the Chinese rulers, and as the Chinese tried harder and harder to put a stop to it, the English considered it to be their God-given right to do as they pleased, and the Chinese had no right to object - even though opium was illegal in England.

I especially enjoyed the letters from Robin, an Indian artist uninvolved with the opium trade. He is apparently gay, and some of his descriptions are hilarious, whether intentional or not. For example, in one letter (to "Puggly", a woman friend from way back), he describes his visit with a Chinese artist he was staying with:

The more time we spent together, the more curious we became about one another’s artistic inclinations; no length of time seemed excessive if it extended our understanding of each other’s methods and equipment. Why, even to place our hands upon each other’s brushes – at once so familiar and so different – was to experience the thrill of discovery! Never had we imagined, Puggly dear, that we had so much yet to learn about these beloved tools of ours: every minute seemed well-used if it furthered our knowledge of the subtle variations of their hairs and bristles; not a minute felt wasted if it was spent in exploring the feel of their slender but sturdy shafts; not an hour was begrudged that was expended in learning how to coax out the wondrous luminosities that lie hidden within them.


I especially liked his attitudes about life; instead of looking down on the Chinese customs and people, he always seemed to enjoy the differences, and looked forward to experiencing everything new (well, except for cricket). He wanted to see it all, and paint it if he could.

All in all, a very good book, but hard to read in many places due to so many unfamiliar terms. But they could usually be deduced from context, and if not, they could probably be skipped.
( )
  MartyFried | Oct 9, 2022 |
A worthy successor to the dazzling, humanly rich, hilarious, tragic "Sea of Poppies." I am waiting for the third volume of this trilogy with anticipation and foreboding . . . history has little kindness. ( )
  AnnKlefstad | Feb 4, 2022 |
Bof... bof.. bof ! Ce qui m'avait plut dans le premier tome c'était la manière dont, sous couvert d'une histoire épique et pleine d'aventure, Amitav Ghosh décrivait la société indienne du début du XIX° siècle permettant d'expliquer en partie et de comprendre les tensions, les rigidités, les rancœurs qui ont nourries l'histoire de ce sous-continent. Dans ce second tome, l'histoire se déplace en Chine en plein début de la première guerre de l'opium, il faut attendre les trois quarts du roman pour retrouver au travers des événements qui se précipitent à Canton, l'analyse subtile décrivant les relations colons entre occidentaux, entrepreneurs indiens, riches commerçants chinois et madarins chinois. Le roman est un long descriptif de repas, de plats les plus étonnants, de vêtements typiques, de toutes les types de transports pouvant flotter,... sans parler des longs descriptifs de plantes, fleurs, jardins, parcs,... Finalement l'épique et l'aventure ne sont pas très présents, l'analyse politique, sociale et économique quelque peu mis en arrière. La construction même du roman est pour moi l'illustration que Amitav Ghosh a perdu le fil de sa narration et test en tâtonnant d'autres styles (épistolaire par exemple) ou aborder des thèmes qui auraient pu être intéressant mais qui ne sont pas suffisamment développer (l'art et plus particulièrement la peinture comparé entre l'occident, l'inde et la chine..) car arrivant sans logique dans la trame de la trilogie. ( )
  folivier | Feb 4, 2021 |
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On one level, the novel that arises from this formative geopolitics is a remarkable feat of research, bringing alive the hybrid customs of food and dress and the competing philosophies of the period with intimate precision; on another it is a subversive act of empathy, viewing a whole panorama of world history from the "wrong" end of the telescope. The real trick, though, is that it is also fabulously entertaining.
tillagd av souloftherose | ändraThe Observer, Tim Adams (Jun 19, 2011)
 
Amitav Ghosh's two latest novels carry us deep inside the opium trade in the 1830s. River of Smoke is the second volume of a proposed trilogy. The first, Sea of Poppies, published in 2008, took us along the Ganges and to Calcutta, where the poppies are grown and the opium processed. River of Smoke follows the story through to Canton in China, where the opium is sold. The Chinese authorities are trying to prevent illegal imports of the drug, which has inflicted a plague of addiction on the Chinese population while making empire-sized fortunes for the irrepressibly shameless traders, mostly British.

In historical novels the past can sometimes feel tamed; hindsight, hovering just off the page, tells us that we know what it all added up to and what came of it (the First Opium War, during which British gunboats enforced a treaty opening Chinese ports to international trade, comes shortly after the ending of this novel). But Ghosh's novels somehow succeed in taking us back inside the chaos of when "then" was "now". His grasp of the detail of the period is exhaustive – he is so thoroughly submerged in it – that readers can't possibly remember all the things he shows them, or hold on to all the life-stories of all the characters he introduces. Both novels are cabinets of curiosities, crowded with items that hold a story of their own.
tillagd av kidzdoc | ändraThe Guardian, Tessa Hadley (Jun 10, 2011)
 

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Amid a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal, three vessels, and the diverse occupants within, converge on Canton's Fanqui-Town, or Foreign Enclave, which is a powder keg awaiting a spark to ignite the Opium Wars.

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