In After Empire Michael Gorra explores how three novelists of empire—Paul Scott, V. S. Naipaul, and Salman Rushdie—have charted the perpetually drawn and perpetually blurred boundaries of identity left in the wake of British imperialism.
Arguing against a model of cultural identity based on race, Gorra begins with Scott's portrait, in The Raj Quartet, of the character Hari Kumar—a seeming oxymoron, an "English boy with a dark brown skin," whose very existence undercuts the belief in an absolute distinction between England and India. He then turns to the opposed figures of Naipaul and Rushdie, the two great novelists of the Indian diaspora. Whereas Naipaul's long and controversial career maps the "deep disorder" spread by both imperialism and its passing, Rushdie demonstrates that certain consequences of that disorder, such as migrancy and mimicry, have themselves become creative forces.
After Empire provides engaging and enlightening readings of postcolonial fiction, showing how imperialism helped shape British national identity—and how, after the end of empire, that identity must now be reconfigured.
Paul Scott is most famous for his much-beloved tetralogy The Raj Quartet, an epic that chronicles the end of the British rule in India with a cast of vividly and memorably drawn characters. Inspired by Scott’s own time spent in India during World War II, this powerful novel provides valuable insight into how foreign lands changed the British who worked and fought in them, hated and loved them.
A coming of age tale, The Birds of Paradise is the story of a boy and his childhood friendship with the daughter of a British diplomat and the son of the Raja. Scott artfully brings his young narrator’s voice to life with evocative language and an eye for detail, capturing the pangs of childhood and the bittersweet fog of memory with nostalgic yet immediate prose
Paul Scott is most famous for his much-beloved tetralogy The Raj Quartet, an epic that chronicles the end of the British rule in India with a cast of vividly and memorably drawn characters. Inspired by Scott’s own time spent in India and Malaya during World War II, this two powerful novel provides valuable insight into how foreign lands changed the British who worked and fought in them, hated and loved them.
The Chinese Love Pavilion follows a young British clerk, Tom Brent, who must track down a former friend—now suspected of murder—in Malaya. Tom faces great danger, both from the mysterious Malayan jungles and the political tensions between British officers, but the novel is perhaps most memorable for the strange, beautiful romance between Tom and a protean Eurasian beauty whom he meets in the eponymous Chinese Love Pavilion.
No set of novels so richly recreates the last days of India under British rule—"two nations locked in an imperial embrace"—as Paul Scott's historical tour de force, The Raj Quartet. The Jewel in the Crown opens in 1942 as the British fear both Japanese invasion and Indian demands for independence. On the night after the Indian Congress Party votes to support Ghandi, riots break out and an ambitious police sargeant arrests a young Indian for the alleged rape of the woman they both love.
In The Day of the Scorpion, Scott draws us deeper in to his epic of India at the close of World War II. With force and subtlety, he recreates both private ambition and perversity, and the politics of an entire subcontinent at a turning point in history.
As the scorpian, encircled by a ring of fire, will sting itself to death, so does the British raj hasten its own destruction when threatened by the flames of Indian independence. Brutal repression and imprisonment of India's leaders cannot still the cry for home rule. And in the midst of chaos, the English Laytons withdraw from a world they no longer know to seek solace in denial, drink, and madness.
India, 1943: In a regimental hill station, the ladies of Pankot struggle to preserve the genteel façade of British society amid the debris of a vanishing empire and World War II. A retired missionary, Barbara Batchelor, bears witness to the connections between many human dramas; the love between Daphne Manner and Hari Kumar; the desperate grief an old teacher feels for an India she cannot rescue; and the cruelty of Captain Ronald Merrick, Susan Layton's future husband.
After exploiting India's divisions for years, the British depart in such haste that no one is prepared for the Hindu-Muslim riots of 1947. The twilight of the raj turns bloody. Against the backdrop of the violent partition of India and Pakistan, A Division of the Spoils illuminates one last bittersweet romance, revealing the divided loyalties of the British as they flee, retreat from, or cling to India.
In this swiftly paced and lyrical novel about British expatriates at the time of Indian independence, Paul Scott grapples with the themes of race, possession, and history that dominate all four novels of his masterpiece, The Raj Quartet, especially The Jewel in the Crown. As always, Scott fills his book with vivid characters: the seductive, bigoted war widow; the sophisticated, wily Hindu politician; and the athletic young American who only gradually begins to understand the legacy of pain and hatred veiling the woman he has come to rescue. Set against the backdrop of a nation in violent transition—a climate of exhilaration and shifting loyalties—Six Days in Marapore unfolds amidst the possibility of reconciliation, freedom, and healing.
"Scott's brief characterizations are as important to Six Days in Marapore as the basic plot . . . This is not primarily a novel of India, but rather more of frightened foreigners living there at the end of their era."—New York Times
"Intense, abrasive, the many conflicts and telltale stigmata of Hindu and Moslem, white and off white, give this its uncertain temper and certain suspense."—Kirkus Reviews
Staying On: A Novel
Paul Scott University of Chicago Press, 1998 Library of Congress PR6069.C596S73 1998 | Dewey Decimal 823.914
In this sequel to The Raj Quartet, Colonel Tusker and Lucy Smalley stay on in the hills of Pankot after Indian independence deprives them of their colonial status. Finally fed up with accommodating her husband, Lucy claims a degree of independence herself. Eloquent and hilarious, she and Tusker act out class tensions among the British of the Raj and give voice to the loneliness, rage, and stubborn affection in their marriage. Staying On won the Booker Prize in 1977 and was made into a motion picture starring Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson in 1979.
"Staying On far transcends the events of its central action. . . . [The work] should help win for Scott . . . the reputation he deserves—as one of the best novelists to emerge from Britain's silver age."—Robert Towers, Newsweek
"Scott's vision is both precise and painterly. Like an engraver cross-hatching in the illusion of fullness, he selects nuances that will make his characters take on depth and poignancy."—Jean G. Zorn, New York Times Book Review
"A graceful comic coda to the earlier song of India. . . . No one writing knows or can evoke an Anglo-Indian setting better than Scott."—Paul Gray, Time
"Staying On provides a sort of postscript to [Scott's] deservedly acclaimed The Raj Quartet. . . . He has, as it were, summoned up the Raj's ghost in Staying On. . . . It is the story of the living death, in retirement, and the final end of a walk-on character from the quartet. . . . Scott has completed the task of covering in the form of a fictional narrative the events leading up to India's partition and the achievement of independence in 1947. It is, on any showing, a creditable achievement."—Malcolm Muggeridge, New York Times Book Review