EMPIRE TRILOGY: FIXED BOUNDARIES BETWEEN CLASSES AND NATIONS

June 6, 2007 at 11:16 pm | Posted in Art, Asia, Books, Globalization, History | Leave a comment

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The Singapore Grip

(The third book in the Empire Trilogy series)

(1978)

A novel byJ G Farrell

Empire Trilogy”:

1. Troubles (1970)

2. The Siege of Krishnapur (1973)

3. The Singapore Grip (1978)

Singapore, 1939: life on the eve of World War II just isn’t what it used to be for Walter Blackett, head of British Singapore’s oldest and most powerful firm. No matter how forcefully the police break one strike, the natives go on strike somewhere else. His daughter keeps entangling herself with the most unsuitable beaus, while her intended match, the son of Blackett’s partner, is an idealistic sympathizer with the League of Nations and a vegetarian. Business may be booming – what with the war in Europe, the Allies are desperate for rubber and helpless to resist Blackett’s price-fixing and market manipulation. But something is wrong.

No one suspects that the world of the British Empire – of fixed boundaries between classes and nations – is about to come to a terrible end.

The Singapore Grip completes the classic historical Empire Trilogy,”which also includes Troubles and the Booker Prize-winning The Siege of Krishnapur.

Note: “fixed boundaries between classes and nations”

J. G. Farrell

J.G.Farrell (1935–1979)was born with a caul, long considered a sign of good fortune. Academically and athletically gifted, Farrell grew up in England and Ireland. In 1956, during his first term at Oxford, he suffered what seemed a minor injury on the rugby pitch. Within days, however, he was diagnosed with polio, which nearly killed him and left him permanently weakened. Farrell’s early novels, which include The Lung and A Girl in the Head, have been overshadowed by his Empire TrilogyTroubles, the Booker Prize–winning Siege of Krishnapur, and The Singapore Grip (all three are published by NYRB Classics).

 In early 1979, Farrell bought a farmhouse in Bantry Bay on the Irish coast. “I’ve been trying to write,” he admitted, “but there are so many competing interests—the prime one at the moment is fishing off the rocks. . . . Then a colony of bees has come to live above my back door and I’m thinking of turning them into my feudal retainers.” On August 11, Farrell was hit by a wave while fishing and was washed out to sea. His body was found a month later. A biography of J.G. Farrell, J.G. Farrell: The Making of a Writer by Lavinia Greacen, was published by Bloomsbury in 1999.

“No one suspects that the world of the British Empire – of fixed boundaries between classes and nations – is about to come to a terrible end.”

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