J. G. Farrell: The Siege of Krishnapur

The latest addition to my website is J. G. Farrell‘s The Siege of Krishnapur, the second novel in Farrell’s post-colonial Empire trilogy. This one is based on the Siege of Lucknow of 1857, part of the Indian Rebellion against British occupation. The British seem intent on bringing civilisation to the Indians but the Indians do not want it. The well-meaning collector, Mr Hopkins, the man in charge, and the other British tend to live in a bubble, seeing the Indians only as servants or, in some cases, as people to be exploited. When the sepoys (Indians who had served in the British army) revolt, the British fight back and, naturally, continue their routines, including afternoon tea, even though there is no tea, but they do realise their civilising mission has not really worked. Farrell mocks everybody – the British, the few Indians we do meet as individuals, religion, capitalism, the idea of progress, art and anything else he can attack. It is still a worthwhile book forty-five years after it was first published.

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