Quotes from The Siege of Krishnapur

J.G. Farrell ·  344 pages

Rating: (5.2K votes)


“Why do people insist on defending their ideas and opinions with such ferocity, as if defending honour itself? What could be easier to change than an idea?”
― J.G. Farrell, quote from The Siege of Krishnapur


“We look on past ages with condescension, as a mere preparation for us....but what if we are a mere after-glow of them?”
― J.G. Farrell, quote from The Siege of Krishnapur


“The British could leave and half India wouldn't notice us leaving just as they didn't notice us arriving. All our reforms of administration might be reforms on the moon for all it has to do with them..”
― J.G. Farrell, quote from The Siege of Krishnapur


“Not everyone, the Collector was aware, is improved by the job he does in life; some people are visibly disimproved.”
― J.G. Farrell, quote from The Siege of Krishnapur


“In Fleury’s day, however, the grass was cut and the graves well cared for. Besides, as you might expect, he was fond of graveyards; he enjoyed brooding in them and letting his heart respond to the abbreviated biographies he found engraved in their stones . . . so eloquent, so succinct! All the same, once he had spent an hour or two pondering by his mother’s grave he decided to call it a day because, after all, one does not want to overdo the lurking in graveyards. This decision was not a very sudden one. From the age of sixteen when he had first become interested in books, much to the distress of his father, he had paid little heed to physical and sporting matters. He had been of a melancholy and listless cast of mind, the victim of the beauty and sadness of the universe. In the course of the last two or three years, however, he had noticed that his sombre and tubercular manner was no longer having quite the effect it had once had, particularly on young ladies. They no longer found his pallor so interesting, they tended to become impatient with his melancholy. The effect, or lack of it, that you have on the opposite sex is important because it tells you whether or not you are in touch with the spirit of the times, of which the opposite sex is invariably the custodian. The truth was that the tide of sensitivity to beauty, of gentleness and melancholy, had gradually ebbed leaving Fleury floundering on a sandbank. Young ladies these days were more interested in the qualities of Tennyson’s “great, broad-shouldered, genial Englishman” than they were in pallid poets, as Fleury was dimly beginning to perceive. Louise Dunstaple’s preference for romping with jolly officers which had dismayed him on the day of the picnic had by no means been the first rebuff of this kind. Even Miriam sometimes asked him aloud why he was looking “hangdog” when once she would have remained silent, thinking “soulful”. All”
― J.G. Farrell, quote from The Siege of Krishnapur



“Culture is a sham,’ he said simply. ‘It’s a cosmetic painted on life by rich people to conceal its ugliness.’ Fleury”
― J.G. Farrell, quote from The Siege of Krishnapur


“and at one point they had heard what had sounded mighty like a musket shot which, although not very near, might or might not have been fired in their direction but, they decided, probably had been. Harry clung to this adventure, such as it was, all the more tenaciously when he found that because of his sprained wrist he had missed an adventure at Captainganj. Those of his peers who had escaped with life and limb from the Captainganj parade ground did not seem to be thinking of it as an adventure, those who had managed to escape unhurt were now looking tired and shocked. And they seemed to be having trouble telling Harry what it had been like. Each of them simply had two or three terrible scenes printed on his mind: an Englishwoman trying to say something to him with her throat cut, or a comrade spinning down into a whirl-pool of hacking sepoys, something of that sort. To make things worse, one kept finding oneself about to say something to a friend who was not there to hear it any more. It was hard to make any sense out of what had happened, and after a while they gave up trying. Of the score of subalterns who had managed to escape, the majority had never seen a dead person before . . . a dead English person, anyway . . . one occasionally bumped into a dead native here and there but that was not quite the same. Strangely enough, they listened quite enviously to Harry talking about the musket shot which had “almost definitely” been fired at himself and Fleury. They wished they had had an adventure too, instead of their involuntary glimpse of the abattoir. It”
― J.G. Farrell, quote from The Siege of Krishnapur


“For a day or two Fleury became quite active. He had his book about the advance of civilization in India to consider and this was one reason why he had taken an interest in the behaviour of the Collector. He asked a great number of questions and even bought a notebook to record pertinent information.
"Why, if the Indian people are happier under our rule," he asked a Treasury official, "do they not emigrate from those native states like Hyderabad which are so dreadfully misgoverned and come and live in
British India?"
"The apathy of the native is well known," replied the official stiffly. "He is not enterprising."
Fleury wrote down "apathy" in a flowery hand and then, after a moment's hesitation, added "not enterprising".”
― J.G. Farrell, quote from The Siege of Krishnapur


“What an advantage that knowledge can be stored in books! The knowledge lies there like hermetically sealed provisions waiting for the day when you may need a meal. Surely what the Collector was doing as he pored over his military manuals, was proving the superiority of the European way of doing things, of European culture itself. This was a culture so flexible that whatever he needed was there in a book at his elbow. An ordinary sort of man, he could, with the help of an oil-lamp, turn himself into a great military engineer, a bishop, an explorer or a General overnight, if the fancy took him. As the Collector pored over his manuals, from time to time rubbing his tired eyes, he knew that he was using science and progress to help him out of his difficulties and he was pleased. The inventions on his desk, the carriage which supplied its own track and the effervescent drinking vessel, watched him in silent admiration as he worked. The”
― J.G. Farrell, quote from The Siege of Krishnapur


“And as he dug, he wept. He saw Hari's animated face, and numberless dead men, and the hatred on the faces of the sepoys . . . and it suddenly seemed to him that he could see clearly the basis of all conflict and misery, something mysterious which grows in men at the same time as hair and teeth and brains
and which reveals its presence by the utter and atrocious inflexibility of all human habits and beliefs, even including his own.”
― J.G. Farrell, quote from The Siege of Krishnapur



“The Magistrate suffered from the disability of a free-thinking turn of mind and from a life that was barren and dreary to match.”
― J.G. Farrell, quote from The Siege of Krishnapur


“What an advantage that knowledge can be stored in books! The knowledge lies there like hermetically sealed provisions waiting for the day when you may need a meal. Surely what the Collector was doing as he pored over his military manuals, was proving the superiority of the European way of doing things, of European culture itself. This was a culture so flexible that whatever he needed was there in a book at his elbow. An ordinary sort of man, he could, with the help of an oil-lamp, turn himself into a great military engineer, a bishop, an explorer or a General overnight, if the fancy took him.”
― J.G. Farrell, quote from The Siege of Krishnapur


“At the same time he realized with a shock how much his own faith in the Church’s authority, or in the Christian view of the world in which he had hitherto lived his life, had diminished since he had last inspected them. From the farmyard in which his certitudes perched like fat chickens, every night of the siege, one or two were carried off in the jaws of rationalism and despair. Another”
― J.G. Farrell, quote from The Siege of Krishnapur


About the author

J.G. Farrell
Born place: in Liverpool , The United Kingdom
Born date January 25, 1935
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