The Raj Quartet (1): The Jewel in the Crown, The Day of the Scorpionby Published 03 Jul 2007
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The Raj Quartet, Paul Scott's epic study of British India in its final years, has no equal. Tolstoyan in scope and Proustian in detail but completely individual in effect, it records the encounter between East and West through the experiences of a dozen people caught up in the upheavals of the Second World War and the growing campaign for Indian independence from Britain.
The first novel, The Jewel in the Crown, describes the doomed love between an English girl and an Indian boy, Daphne Manners and Hari Kumar. This affair touches the lives of other characters in three subsequent volumes, most of them unknown to Hari and Daphne but involved in the larger social and political conflicts which destroy the lovers. In The Day of the Scorpion, Ronald Merrick, a sadistic policeman who arrested and prosecuted Hari, insinuates himself into an aristocratic British family as World War II escalates.
On occasions unsparing in its study of personal dramas and racial differences, the Raj Quartet is at all times profoundly humane, not least in the author’s capacity to identify with a huge range of characters. It is also illuminated by delicate social comedy and wonderful evocations of the Indian scene, all narrated in luminous prose.
The other two novels in the Raj Quartet, The Towers of Silence and A Division of the Spoils, are also available from Everyman’s Library. With a new introduction by Hilary Spurling
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
"The Raj Quartet (1): The Jewel in the Crown, The Day of the Scorpion" Reviews
There is nothing quite like Paul Scott's the Raj Quartet. I first started reading because of a love of the miniseries, the Jewel in the Crown, but discovered the quartet. There is no book series that quite captures the last days of the British Occupation, and you fall in love with the country, time period, and place. The romance between Guy Perron and Sarah Layton is simmering, and the mystery of the affair in the Bibighar gardens continues throughout the entire series. There is no villan in literature quite like Ronald Merrick. Just a warning: the book series is long, and the print is tiny. But if you take the time to read and enjoy the series, you'll discover a literary and cultural treat.
Highly recommended for those interested in the British occupation of India and its aftermath. (Those not explicitly interested should probably turn to others, such as Rushdie or Mistry, or even Seth.) About 200 pages of this book were 5-star plus. The other 300? Kind of a slog if you're not a big fat nerd about the politics. I happen to be that kind of big fat nerd. And this was good, and now I'm only looking forward to finishing all four volumes.
Finally, Lili and Daphne are the most affecting characters in Raj fiction, ever. (Daphne is, to me, a precursor to _The God of Small Things_'s Ammu.)
Book a bit long. But good narrative of imperial India. In line w Passage to india but Scott's book more psychologically penetrating. Scott also tries to cover more of the complexities of english occupation and include the creation of pakistan
This is an impossibly long book about India during the time of colonial rule, that once I was through the four books I was so sorry to see end :-(
The basis for the superb mini-series The Jewel In The Crown. Scott is a wonderful, delicate writer who served in India & came back to write about it in a fine tetralogy about the Raj. Hari Kumar (or Harry Coomer, as he's called in England) is a tragic figure: caught between his British upbringing & his abrupt landing in India, a land utterly foreign to him. Structurally brilliant, I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in what happened prior to Indian Independence. A true tour de force!