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The Jewel in the Crown (The Raj Quartet, Book 1) (original 1966; edition 1998)

by Paul Scott

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Member:fuzzi
Title:The Jewel in the Crown (The Raj Quartet, Book 1)
Authors:Paul Scott
Info:University Of Chicago Press (1998), Paperback, 462 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott (1966)

  1. 00
    A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth (mcenroeucsb)
  2. 00
    Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh (mcenroeucsb)
  3. 01
    A Passage to India by E. M. Forster (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: These two novels bear close relationship in setting and circumstance.
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First published in 1966, The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott explores powerful themes of racism, class and colonialism in the complex environment of 1942 India. The British Empire is struggling with the war and in holding India under their control. The Japanese have defeated them in Burma, and here in India, Gandhi seeks non-violent non-cooperation in his “Quit India” campaign. The author paints a vivid picture of suspects being interrogated, idealists silenced and dissenters tracked down.

The story captures certain events about people caught in these turbulent times, as a handful of characters react to a vicious attack on an Englishwoman. Miss Daphne Manners was the victim of rape. The event remains shrouded in mystery as the victim does not seem very interested in identifying her tormentors. Of course she has her own personal reason for remaining silent. The story unfolds from various angles, from character to character, from first person to third person, with letters, diaries and interviews all being included.

I found this a fascinating look at an intricate period in time as it explores not only the described chain of events but also the political and social views of the many characters. At times overwhelming but always interesting and educational, I found I had to concentrate intently on the material in order to keep things straight in my mind. The author writes beautifully, but often the length of his sentences made the reading difficult. This is the first book in the Raj Quartet and I found it to be colourful, layered and intense. ( )
1 vote DeltaQueen50 | Mar 15, 2014 |
"There are the action, the people, and the place; all of which are interrelated but in their totality incommunicable in isolation from the moral continuum of human affairs."
  rmaitzen | Feb 7, 2014 |
This is the story of a rape, of the events that led up to it and followed it and of the place in which it happened. There are the action, the people, and the place; all of which are interrelated but in their totality incommunicable in isolation from the moral continuum of human affairs"

Extremely powerful way to begin a narrative and believe me the impact builds momentum.

Difficult to imagine a storyline comprised of racial and class issues, colonialism along with the ever powerful veil of uncertainty not impacting the reader, and it's true, this novel will leave an impact lingering for quite a while. I'll go out on a limb and say The Jewel in the Crown will be a read you will never forget.

Paul Scott sets the backdrop as the last few years of British rule is making its exodus out of India, which marks the beginning of the end.

Scott begins to describe the fictional town of Mayapore setting the scene for tragedy, here is where the momentum begins. You sense the years of resentment, the anger from both the rulers and ruled which leads to two acts of violence: Edwina Crane is beaten, found holding the hand of her Indian escort and Daphne Manners is brutally raped. Two incidents not easily forgotten long after you have completed the novel.

"As Mr. Poulson said afterwards, the troubles in Mayapore began for him with the sight of old Miss Crane sitting in the pouring rain by the roadside holding the hand of a dead Indian"

"It was on the stone steps leading to the verandah that the girl stumbled at the end of her headlong flight in the dark from the Bibighar Gardens; stumbled, fell, and crawled on her hands and knees the rest of the way to safety and into the history of a troubled period"

Scott's characters are vivid and well formed, by the end of the book you feel intimate with the characters and their circumstances. Scott couldn't improve upon the characterization, very well done, really the heart of the novel.

Scott takes the reader back and forth, and it's fair to say the story has several beginnings, dependent upon the readers point of view. I felt the characters were being planted in such a manner as to gain the ultimate momentum for the apex in Bibighar Gardens even before the characters themselves realized. The characters actions on this fateful day and their tragic story gives ambience to the political battle taking place.

I felt Paul Scott did a wonderful job with this historical fiction with its time and place with relevance to current times. Master at his craft which proves evident in this unforgettable story. ( )
  MALster | Oct 29, 2013 |
It would not be an exaggeration to say that this is the most awesome novel which I have read about British India. The story is gripping: the language poetic ("the indigo dreams of flowers fallen asleep", to recall a phrase which lingers in the memory): and the characterisation near flawless. Even after more than twenty years (I think it's nearer twenty-five), I can recall the some scenes as if I had read the novel yesterday.

Just look at how Scott starts the novel off:

Imagine, then, a flat landscape, dark for the moment, but even so conveying to a girl running in the still deeper shadow cast by the wall of the Bibighar Gardens an idea of immensity, of distance, such as years before Miss Crane had been conscious of, standing where a lane ended and cultivation began...

Like To Kill a Mockingbird and One Hundred Years of Solitude, the first paragraph hooks you with the whole story encapsulated in it. Then when the novelist goes on to say "this is the story of a rape...", you are lost for good.

It is 1942, and Gandhi has delivered the ultimatum to the British - "Quit India!" - in his quietly arrogant way. Everywhere, the winds of change are felt, as the worm is finally turning. In this chaotic situation, a British woman is raped by Indians-and all hell breaks loose. “The Bibighar Incident”, as it comes to be known, grows into a metaphor: the beginning of the end of the British Raj.

Paul Scott’s extraordinary achievement is to encapsulate this huge canvas into the private lives of a few misfits. Daphne Manners, large boned and clumsy, with none of the charms of the English girl: Hari Kumar (or Harry Coomer, as he likes to call himself), Indian on the outside and English on the inside: and Merrick, the policeman, acutely conscious of his low social standing in British society. This triangle is unlike any other seen in literature, as love and hate in equal measure bind these people together, pulling them into the inevitable vortex at the Bibighar gardens.

The novel unfolds through the perspectives of different characters, often not central to the story. It gives a jagged, kaleidoscopic feel to the narrative which is perfectly in keeping with India. And as the mystery of what happened at Bibighar is revealed, we seem to hear the bells start to ring the death knell of the British Empire.

Read it!
( )
1 vote Nandakishore_Varma | Sep 28, 2013 |
This is a love story that will tear out your heart. ( )
  Mortybanks | May 29, 2013 |
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Imagine, then, a flat landscape, dark for the moment, but even so conveying to a girl running in the still deeper shadow cast by the wall of the Bibighar Gardens an idea of immensity, of distance, such as years before Miss Crane had been conscious of standing where a lane ended and cultivation began: a different landscape but also in the alluvial plain between the mountains of the north and the plateau of the south.
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Table of Contents:

Part One - Miss Crane
Part Two - The Macgregor House
Part Three - Sister Ludmila
Part Four - An Evening at the Club
Part Five - Young Kumar
Part Six - Civil and Military
Part Seven - The Bibighar Gardens
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0226743403, Paperback)

"Ah no, waste no pity on young Kumar. Whatever he got while in the hands of the police he deserved. And waste no pity on her either. She also got what she deserved."

August 1942. World War II is reaching its apex, with the conflict consuming almost all of Asia and Europe. In Southeast Asia, the Japanese have driven the British army out of Burma and are threatening India, where Britain's beleaguered forces find themselves facing an increasingly hostile Indian populace tired of decades of unfulfilled promises of freedom. On a dark monsoonal night in the town of Mayapore, amid an outbreak of anti-British rioting, a gang of Indian men rape a young British woman. Through this rape, we are introduced to a cast of characters engulfed and subsequently carried away by the storm of events. Paul Scott's The Jewel in the Crown is part historical novel, part mystery, part love story, part allegory. But to reduce it to any of these elements is to miss its irony, poignancy, and beauty. Full of complex characters and rich in atmosphere and symbolism, this is a novel that works on many different levels.

The events unfold through the eyes of a varied cast of characters--both British and Indian--united by their inability to escape the straightjacket of race and social roles, no matter their class, education, or political views. This is particularly excruciating for the rape victim and the young Indian man accused of the crime. These two are drawn to each other by their alienation from the roles they are expected to play. Englishwoman Daphne Manners finds herself increasingly estranged from her countrymen, while Hari Kumar, an Indian who has lived in Britain for all but two years of his life and is so anglicized that he doesn't even speak Hindi, can't abide his native land. Their struggle with the identities and constraints that society imposes on them and the manifestations of their conflict form the core of the novel, providing the timelessness and richness that make it one of the great novels of the 20th century.

The Jewel in the Crown, originally published in 1966, is the first of the Raj Quartet, the sweeping epic that looks at the collapse in the 1940s of British rule in India. It was followed by The Day of the Scorpion, The Towers of Silence, and A Division of Spoils. --Jonathan King

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:09 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In 1942 India two rapes take place, that of an English girl in Mayapore and that of India by the British. As the story unfolds, the whole spectrum of Anglo-Indian relations is evoked.

(summary from another edition)

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