Tuesday, May 5, 2009
In between all this editing and yard work, I've been reading J. G. Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur, a novel about the sepoy rebellion in British India in the mid-1850s. It's an odd book, partly because it's quite plausibly disguised as a straightforward historical novel with the cast of characters one is accustomed to finding in novels about colonial India. But everyone is strange, and their strangeness isn't only the result of the siege but is evident well beforehand. By strange, what I mean is that each person has his or her odd obsession, which collides with other people's odd obsessions; and meanwhile, they playact their Victorian proprieties. Add carnage and starvation in close quarters, and the novel rapidly becomes hallucinogenic. In short, it makes less than ideal bedtime reading, but I'm reading it in bed anyway.