on February 20, 2003
I had never heard of J.G. Farrell or The Siege of Krishnapur until one day I was scanning a list of winner of England's Booker Prize and I noticed that Siege was out-of-print in America. I was so intrigued I sent off to England for it, but it is now also available in the U.S.
The novel narrates the story of the British community at Krishnapur during the Indian Mutiny of 1857, when the entire community holed up in the Residency (like a governor's palace) for months under siege. Farrell's style is highly cinematic, reminiscent of great movie epics about that era, such as "The Man Who Would Be King," - lots of scope, majesty, explosions, and bright-red uniforms, added to the day-to-day domestic squabbles of the community. Farrell's take is not a shallow war novel though; he is witty, ironic, inspired, and sad in turn.
The book features remarkable turns of fortune and engaging details on every page, all of which were dramatically motivated and apt. (Examples: When the besieged run out of ammunition, they create canister shot by stuffing ladies' stockings with silverware. There's a sudden infestation of flying bugs that will make you jump right out of your chair. Two doctors have an argument about the cause of cholera with dramatic consequences. A lucky shot by a Lieutenant....well I won't spoil it for you.)
The main character, the Collector, seems to stand in for all of Britain as he is transformed by his Indian experience: first arrogance and a passion for bringing British `civilization' to the uncivilized, then bravado as he stands up to the initial assaults, then despair as he watches the failure of mere ingenuity to overcome the natives. In a wonderful little coda at the end of the book you can see how he has been utterly transformed by the experience.
A wonderful find, a 'must read'! I'm off to read the rest of Farrell's novels!
The bloody Siege of Krishnapur in 1857 is the pivot around which the action revolves in this Booker Award-winning novel by J. G. Farrell, but Farrell's focus is less on Krishnapur and the siege than it is on the attitudes and beliefs of the English colonizers who made that siege an inevitability. He puts these empire-builders under the microscope, then skewers their arrogant and superior attitudes with the rapier of his wit, subjecting them to satire and juxtaposing them and their narrowly focused lives against the realities of the world around them. Remarkably, he does this with enough subtlety that we can recognize his characters as individuals, rather than total stereotypes, at the same time that we see their absurdity and recognize the damage they have done in their zeal to spread their "superior" culture.
From the opening pages, Farrell builds suspense as the English colony ignores reports of unrest in Barrackpur, Berhampur, and Meerut. The flirtations of the single women, the amorous attentions of the young men, the boorish and insensitive behavior of the officials, the gossipy whispering of their wives, and the unrelenting efforts to maintain the same society they enjoyed at home--with tea parties, poetry readings, and dances--all attest to their degree of isolation from the world around them. When violence breaks out in Krishnapur and all the inhabitants take refuge in the colonial Residence, Farrell turns it into a microcosm which illuminates their misplaced values and goals as they interact with each other and face dangers from without--and from within. The siege continues for more than three months, with bloodshed, disease, starvation, lack of water and medicine, and the summer weather taking their toll.
Farrell's dark humor is unparalleled. Using irony, understatement, and a sense of the absurd, he conveys his disapproval of colonialism without resorting to the harshness of polemics. By concentrating exclusively on the English in the Residence and not on India's local population (ironically reflecting the approach of the colonizers themselves), he makes their behavior appear ridiculous in its own right, rather than ridiculous in comparison to other cultures. Mr. Rayne, the Opium Agent, calls the sale of opium, "progress." The Padre cannot understand why the Bible was originally written in an obscure language like Hebrew, rather than English, which is "spoken in every corner of every continent." A dying man offering up his last, heartfelt prayer is told by the Magistrate, "Yes, yes, to be sure, don't worry about it." The heads from a collection of small sculptures of the "great minds of Europe" are used as deadly explosives when shot becomes scarce.
Through his precise imagery, his acute eye for memorable and revealing details, his unerring ear for dialogue, his ability to maintain pace and suspense, and his humor, Farrell creates a historical novel with the enduring qualities which make it as relevant today as it was when published thirty years ago. Mary Whipple
Chapatis. It is always difficult to start a novel convincingly, but it's a long time since I saw it done better than it is here. The harbinger of the brutal and bloody Indian uprising of 1857 was, in this narrative at least, the secret distribution of chapatis to the intended victims. I have long forgotten what little I may ever have known about these events, and I would actually be delighted to discover that this detail was not an invention of the novelist's but what actually happened.
If paraphrased, the amount of gore and squalor that is detailed here on page after page would seem grotesque and even intolerable. As told by Farrell, it manages to be neither. This was the Victorian era, and the story is a scenario of British Victorians subjected to pressure and strain of near-incredible ferocity. The author does not spare us the specifics, and it will be a long time before I forget the spongy piles of corpses, the sense of near-unbearable heat in which I for one would have had difficulty in even wearing the stuffy formal clothes let alone dancing let alone battling for my very life, the pervasive stench, the outbreak of cholera and the indelible vignette of the lapdog chewing the face off a fallen defender. Even more extraordinary, to me, than the way they keep going is what they don't do and in particular what they think and don't think. There is no real instance of irrational panic whatsoever, and although the Padre for one has clearly gone slightly round the bend, the way this manifests itself is in an obsessional fixation with denouncing Sin and Heresy, and largely with his frantic concern to prove that great Victorian preoccupation The Existence of God from something like Aquinas's Argument from Design.
At the height of the horror, the Collector is still thinking in Victorian vocabulary and expressing himself in subordinate clauses. Staring death in the eye, the young intellectual Fleury is still concerned with his theories, whether in respect of the operation of guns or of the progress of rationalism. The ladies themselves, who might have been expected to be in a state of blind terror, are still weighing up the niceties of how the matrons and widows on the one hand, and the Fallen Woman on the other, are expected to comport themselves. Most amazingly of all, when the cholera first breaks out the two doctors conduct a lengthy and articulate debate on its causes and remedies, keeping the attention not just of each other but of an attentive audience.
The book abounds in unforgettable incidents - the smothering cloud of cockchafer beetles, the snowstorm, the slaughter of one rebel contingent with silver forks from the dining-room and marble busts of Socrates and Keats - but what is distinctive and extraordinary about this book is its tone. Its tone is quiet, detached and wry without being aggressively ironic. No heavy lessons are preached (although it's not hard to see which side the author is on when it comes to religion). No particular political standpoint is adopted either, the nearest we get to that being the shoulder-shrugging last paragraph. The whole saga ought to have been a filthy nightmare, but instead the reader feels rather like the onlookers who have come along with picnic lunches to watch the events as if they were watching a game of cricket. It has all been Virgil's `plurima mortis imago' - the omnipresent face of death, and yet it has been a bit of a spectator-sport too. I'm actually rather glad I'm no historian in this instance. I don't know what set off the uprising, and once the relief forces turn up so far as I know things went back to much as they were before. The author offers us no theories or explanations: he just leaves us having witnessed wholesale and insensate slaughter and wondering what it can all have been in aid of.
on April 17, 2006
Let me begin by saying this is one of the best books I have ever read. It is cinematic, epic, brilliant, totally entertaining, horrifying, funny, shocking, infuriating, and a masterpiece.
Based on a real mutiny in India in 1857 against the East India Company, this utterly amazing book is packed from cover to cover with scrupulously well-researched details that are brilliantly presented to the reader through the eyes of its engaging and deluded British characters. One feels thoroughly engrossed in every aspect of this work: its characters, its actions, its historical setting, its philosophical ruminations, and its detailed descriptions of cholera, furniture, art, buildings, villages, natives, disease, landscapes, death, starvation, and war. In fact, whatever Farrell chooses to write about, he does it in completely convincing fashion. One can envision this work on a huge screen, in bright color, acted out by the world's greatest actors. What's also brilliant about it is its complete relevance to today's world politics. What we have here (and in today's world) is a massive head-on collision of two worlds, two cultures, two religious views, two planets, and the disastrous consequences of that encounter as they play out across a vast stage. Farrell understood how misguided the British were in India as they willfully exploited the landscape and its people. Yet he empathized enough with the British to create the memorable character of the Collector, who sincerely believes at the outset that the "idea" of bringing "civilization" and "progress" to India outweighed any difficulties it caused. But in the end, the uprising he alone knew was coming throws all his notions away, and in the end he is a changed man, stripped bare of all his values and cares and left to think only about love and the past. This transformation also brings the reader to transform his vision of what the British Empire and its presence in India was all about. One is also left wondering what we in the West are all about as we blunder our way into the Islamic world, crashing into a different culture and mind set in our efforts to bring "democracy" to places it has never been.
on June 17, 2000
For those seeking greater insights into Britain's imperial ethos, I urge you to read THE SIEGE OF KRISHNAPUR, by the late(and great)Anglo-Irish writer J.G. Farrell. It's about the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, when thousands of native Indian Army troops (know as Sepoys) rose up against their English masters. The bloody mutiny began in Meerut barracks in May of '57 and quickly spread along a 500-mile string of cities and villages in northern India. It was finally put down five months later. Marked by appalling atrocities on both sides, thousands of Indians and hundreds of Europeans were slaughtered. The proximal cause of the uprising was the introduction of rifle cartridges greased with animal fat, which was unacceptable on religious grounds to both Hindus and Muslims. The underlying (if at the time unarticulated) cause of course rested in dissatisfaction on the part of Indians, the inhabitants of an ancient and sophisticated civilization, over their subjugation by foreigners.
In the 18th century, the presence of the British in India, most of whom were men, was generally benign and not much noticed. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, the behavior of the British toward Indians had become increasingly oppressive and arrogant, in large part due to the presence of English wives, who ghettoized the English communities and regarded all native Indians with fear and contempt. After the rebellion, such attitudes hardened and became pervasive; this in turn fed the resolve of Indians to expel the British from their country - which they did 92 years later. Although there is no record of it, at the time, a few thoughtful Englishmen must have recognized that the rebellion was an indelible sign of what would inevitably follow.
The centerpiece, if you will, of the Sepoy Rebellion was the four-month siege by the rebels of the Residency at Lucknow. The "residency" was in fact a large, walled compound which served as the British administrative center of an area consisting of thousand of square miles and millions of inhabitants. It was also the social center of the British community and the home of the "Collector", the region's chief administrative officer. THE SIEGE OF KRISHNAPUR, first published in 1973 and winner of the Booker Prize that year, is a fictionalized account of the Lucknow siege - although most of the incidents related in the book actually occurred and most of the characters are based on real people.
THE SIEGE OF KRISHNAPUR is, bar none, my favorite 20th century novel. It is a sublime book that has everything - elegant, crystalline writing, vividness, tight novelistic structure, tremendous scope and depth, action, excitement, moving, convincing sentiment, comedy and tragedy, uproarious savage satire and searing irony. Supporting these virtues is a serious philosophical discourse about the nature of human progress as it is reflected in the efforts of Westerners to "civilize" the rest of the world. For all of that, although KRISHNAPUR demands close attention, for the literate, it is a highly accessible, highly satisfying "read". I know that you'll enjoy it, and in reading it will, I believe, learn a bit more about the human condition.
Should you be inspired to learn more about the Sepoy Rebellion, I recommend Christopher Hibbert's THE GREAT MUTINY, Viking, l978. And for a trenchant, entertaining examination of day-to-day life during the Raj (from the British perspective), see PLAIN TALES FROM THE RAJ, edited by Charles Allen (Holt, Rinehart, l985)
Absurdly, J.G. Farrell died in a fishing accident in 1979. Among his other works are: TROUBLES (1970), set in Dublin in l919, THE SINGAPORE GRIP (1978), set in Singapore in the weeks immediately before the Japanese invasion of the city in 1940, and the unfinished THE HILL STATION, set in Simla in pre-independence days.
on December 1, 2000
Sometimes reading other books makes you return to a novel. In my case reading Burmese Days from Orwell ( a gripping satire of the moral bancruptcy of colonial life) and the recently published A Glass Palace by A. Ghosh ( a historical novel on Birma wriiten by an Indian writer, highly recommended) made me pick up my old copy of Farrell's Siege again.
Much more benign than Orwell, but no less effective in his description of the decline of Colonial Rule, Farrell's book should be on the short list of readings for everybody interested in the history of Colonial Rule in general and India in particular.
The book describes, in a nutshell as one of the reviewers quite aptly remarked, the transformation of a group of self-confident and morally superior rulers to a group of helpless people in an alien environment. It shows in a beautifully described way the rapid decrease in moral cohesion which resulted of their change in circumstances.
In a way, the books mirrors the decline of Western Rule we have seen in the past 150 years and serves as a wonderful reflection of the behaviour of the West in the past.
In my view it ranks amongst the very few top novels ( like Passage to India and Jewel in the Crown and the earlier mentioned Birmese Days) of the colonial past.
It is a shame that this book is not among the standard range of books offered in the bookshops anymore because it is as much part of our literary history as it's more well known contemporaries.
on October 10, 2005
J.G. Farrell's book came out in 1972 was about the Sepoy Mutiny and a part of Indian History that is not well traced. Though there are versions of it, one wonders which is accurate. Thus it is an apt topic for a novel. He looks at it from various perspectives - the British, the Indians and the Princes. In bitter irony, he spares none and tears each of them. The book starts with mirth and gradually descends into darkness as the fight between the Indian soldiers and British intensifies. As is often traced in history, such darkness leads to reduction of ones senses and it is seen in the book. Though it only a novel, it captures all aspects of the story beautifully.
It shows the collector as a ramrod person who sticks to his rules as a typical Britisher of the past. He has his positives and negatives and foresees the problem but is unable to cope with it. He thinks that he is bringing civilization to an uncivilized place and as the story unfolds, one wonders who is civilized. On a more concrete note, one understands the pros and cons of imperialism and how difficult it gets to justify it at times. Though the British were under the East India Company during this time, after this they moved under Royal Flag. That shows the extent of the impact this war created. This is one of most beautiful novels of that decade. Farrell travelled to India during the research for the novel and commented that he was more confused after seeing India than before. He was an eclectic author who wrote books like Singapore Grip, but this was his masterpiece. It is worth owning.
on May 16, 2003
1857 is a seminal year in the history of India but I'd bet most Indians could only associate it with a foggy notion of some big-time rebellion against the East India company, involving the ilk of Queen of Jhansi. A more intricate level of detail about the Sepoy mutiny and its lack of any highfalutin weaponry is mostly lost.
That a Brit would capture that time so vividly and with such insouciant wit is staggering. Between Farrell's "Troubles" (about Irish liberation struggles) and this book I am convinced that his historical backdrops should be required reading in schools.
The premise of this novel is simple: during a time of the Sepoy "siege", the idiosynchrasies of the English colonialists in Residence remain as quirky as ever -- a risibly uppetty "expat" attitude that is shown to have made the mutiny inevitable in the first place. Yet, Farrell's brits are not card-board characterizations of arrogance but more akin to oddball misfits in the wrong place at the wrong time. For instance, reports of unrest in Barrackpur, a sepoy mutiny in Berhampur, and unforeseen problems in Meerut create a sense of unease for the reader, but in the carefree hedonistic confines of the colony, "There was no cause for alarm and, besides, now that everyone had finished eating, a game of blind man's bluff was being called for."
Note that unlike the impressions of some other reviewers, the author does not need to overindulge in racial parallels between the Indians and the British. His characters are too busy making fools of themselves in their own Residence. Which makes it harmless humor, for those who are sensitive to such things.
I own a second-hand, badly mutilated copy of this little novelette, purchased from a ubiquitous warehouse mart in Mumbai for Rs. 15 (about 25 US cents). Yet, this is one of my most treasured possessions. You need to read it to know why.
on September 16, 2011
for the presence of the author--that is, the working of Farrell's mind--vanishes in the tension of the story. If you want to know all about character development and dramatic arc, you cannot do better than this novel. But people don't read for the craft; they read for the story. The setting is India--much in the news the past few years--and the setting is 1857. At first, I was worried that this novel sounded too much like a generic history novel, but it's much more than that. Yes, _The Siege of Krishnapur_ is an accurate period piece breathtaking in researched detail. Another worry I had is that the Muslim soldiers who rebelled would not be given a voice or accurate representation and would remain faceless. But no worry! The Sepoys, or Muslim soldiers, are on every page, since they exist in the mind of every British person who colonizes and exploits their country.
Of course, this is the era of the East Indian Company, an early form of corporate control, until Queen Victoria decided the British government should be in control, not a private company. You would think that the man with the artist's mentality, George Fleury, would be the main character, but it's The Collector, Hopkins--the conservative colonist--who carries the novel. The Collector is the one who views the carnage after the first battle of the rebellion, and he is such a sympathetic character that the reader goes with him everywhere. Hopkins strolls among the dead bodies and destroyed landscape toward the verandah/patio to recall that on this spot he frequently had a pleasant tea and lunch.
There is a "lesson" Farrell teaches, but there is nothing didactic or heavy-handed here. While Farrell shows us the utter uselessness of Victorian morality, we get an intimate experience of the interior mind of the colonials, like Hopkins, as well as of the women characters. Farrell had to use a partly all-seeing (omniscient) narrator in order to take us inside the mind of the main characters and to interpret the rebellion as they did (and their awareness that the Muslim soldiers are justified in rebelling). Farrell knew how to ratchet up the tension to the final scene. The Collector is the one who represents all of us: he wonders how on earth he got into this situation. There are some incredible subplots interwoven, especially the angry debate perpetrated by Dr. Dunstaple against Dr. McNab, who has a "modern," scientific interpretation on the spread of cholera.
on March 23, 2014
Recently on a narrative journey to Co. Bantry in Ireland with the late author Brian Moore, where he writes about a young American poet in search of his ancestry, his novel led me further to another Irish writer James Farrell (1935-1979), who had taken up a farmhouse in the elbow of Bantry Bay a few years before. At first I wedged a bit at the title of J.G. Farrell's award-winning Booker novel, "The Siege of Krishnapur" (1973), not being one for historical military accounts, and I cautiously read the first few pages only to be highly entertained, while keeping some misgivings under gun-powder lock when it came to the deployment of this historical event. This mutiny was to take place between The British East India Company and the sepoys, their recruited Indian soldiers, who turned against them in a great uprising in 1857. Raging on for about 120 days, it was violently crushed and then The Raj came in to rule the following year under the proclamation of Queen Victoria, now deemed 'The Mother of India'.
On being introduced by this author to some familiar Victorian characters depicted in Part One (for the novel is divided into four), it engendered quite a bit of laughter here while knowing this was most likely all going to end in some ghastly fashion where our World is not always a wedding party. Farrell, from the first and onwards, was to catch this reader's attention in describing the mores and behavior of the British ruling class at the time in Calcutta, settled comfortably in elegant residences with their furniture from home, their familiar wardrobe and picnic baskets from Wilson's "Hall of All Nations", along with hunting weapons, cricket bats, splendid displays of polished tea sets and crystal ware.
The violent conflict begins to unravel with a mysterious trail of chapatis, hard biscuits of coarse flour, first found in a desk box of Hopkins, the Collector at the fictional duty station of Krishnapur near the region of Crawnpore. This tragical farce, a dark witty account of colonialism, shortly becomes a horrific if droll nightmare, and these English people now trapped under the Siege of Krisnapur are soon huddled up at the large splendid Residency of the Collector. Every day brings more armed sepoys who amass in a growing tangled jungle of foliage on the outskirts of the compound, and these mutinous soldiers are now going for British blood and not taking any prisoners, while the bird and animal predators outdoors wait for their next gruesome meal with relish.
Before this unexpected rebellion, however, and although 'spots of trouble' had been noted by British officials in Crawnpore and Lucknow among other regions, the Victorians depicted here are living in an exotic, colorful and embroidered tapestry frame, fringed with rich tassles, one which they intend eventually to bring home with some ceremony, along with a bevy of memorabilia and trophies such as sumptuous Indian fabrics, brass candle-stick holders and tiger mats to list just a few offerings and trappings on their return to England. The Collector, the central character in this narration, an aptly name as he is renowned by many for his great passion for beautiful European possessions, is a handsome tall figure with magnificent whiskers and impeccably attired to the official button. A commanding and dignified man, he is compassionate with a pacifying disposition. Only the readers are privy to his inner thoughts which he usually keeps wisely from others, and while listening to them, he drifts away at times into his own musings of the world. A married man slightly irritated with six children whom he moodily keeps at a distance, his wife has just left for England to escape the unbearable heat of the Summer Season, leaving behind her hapless daughters who tremble in awe and reverence at a sighting of their aloof father on moderate occasions.
In this picture there is also the Magistrate, Hopkins' counterpart and second-in-command, a pessimistic, caustic and sardonic man who loathes his job, and takes it out on the gentle ladies of the Community, while sprouting off on the science of phrenology, and shredding with sharp sarcasm their poetic verses read to him weekly with a tremor in their voices. Then the long-awaited visiting young George Fleury finally arrives in Calcutta for the first time. A fatuous pompous youth with delicate sensibilities, Fleury is considered a catch among the mothers and daughters of the Elite, and feels troubled keeping up with romantic postures of the day, with an eye to Louise Dunstaple, the great vaporous Beauty of two cold Indian Seasons. Fleury has brought along his recently widowed sister, Miriam, whose husband was killed in battle in Crimea, and with plans to visit his mother's grave for the first time. Miriam is the most sensible of the women in this story and perhaps proves to be the wisest.
The resident Doctor is the father of Louise and her brother Harry Dunstaple, a young Lieutenant in training. The latter, a keen sportsman and athlete, he shows a great interest in weaponry and the improving of it, with other artillery on hand. Over time, we see the respected Doctor develop an obsessive resentment towards his new assistant Dr. McNab, a younger doctor from Scotland, who is far more knowledgeable and advanced when it comes to saving lives and healing patients. Miss Lucy Hughes, deemed a fallen woman for a brief doomed affair, is eventually brought into the Residency by cautious invitation, and reflects the epitome of femininity. Attracting the attention of all the men, even the cold Magistrate if for other reasons, she becomes later in the Siege, a surrealistic art nightmare when she is covered from head to toe in a black robe of flying beetles, turning her into a live nude statue and into a deep faint. Revived and tidied up by the virginal and curious Fleury and Harry, Lucy holds up well as days go by, and flirting prettily away, gives a semblance of tea parties to the last, securing the heart of the young gruff and awkward military-minded Harry.
The Collector is planning to fight until the end, and when ammunition runs out, Harry comes up with ingenious weapons made of silver cutlery, hair brushes, sugar-tongs, toys, stockings from the women and scrap metal, while enlisting the help of the languid Fleury. Fleury once moved to action shows himself to be an unexpected hero, and when the enemy finally enters the Residency, his close shaves and daring feats from chandelier to chandelier add some comical relief to this story of bloodshed.
There are other individuals of interest in this cast of characters: an increasingly fanatic Padre, a kindly Irish priest, some rogues and villains, and somehow they all ring true to life as portrayed brilliantly by Farrell. When it comes to the Indian population, the crowds of natives and servants remain 'invisible and nameless' to British eyes, and the victims of their indifference and oppression. Thus the author only introduces us to Hari, an enthusiastic young, spoiled and bored Indian prince, who finds the British fascinating if disappointing and disconcerting on closer inspection. Before the Siege when Fleury pays him a courtesy visit at his palace on a long afternoon, their encounter is one of the funniest misinterpretations ever of inept communication between two young poorly informed men from different cultures. It never occurs to Fleury after his visit that he has narrowly escaped deliberate injury from Hari, after being unwittingly and outrageously rude to the bombastic and now enraged young prince, whose Prime Minister is perhaps the most curious Indian figure in this epic tale.
The novel is full of other absurdities and ironies, while Farrell has a way about him of making us feel sorry, without plunging most of the readers into a deep gloom, of inspiring pity and admiration on hearing of the trials, the horrors and losses that these now skeletal British people are enduring. And, in the midst of the intolerable suffocating heat, floods and rotten food, suffering, cholera and death, the survivors continue to divide carefully their last few sugar lumps to place in their tea cups of boiled water during this daily ritual, too weary to shed more tears, too weary to even give much thought to their loved, or lost ones.
Farrell's writing style is beautiful and a pleasure to read. His admirers may have favorite sentences of his that they find evocative and memorable. As for India, so vast and mysterious, the author on a visit was to find it overwhelming in scope and beyond his mental horizons, letting his Collector reflect in hindsight over the years that what he really only brought back with him was the vision of two village men and two bullocks drawing water from a well for every day of their lives. The Collector was much changed when he returned home and came to believe that 'a people, a nation does not create itself according to its best ideas, but is shaped by other forces of which it has little knowledge'.
A famous author recently was to say of J.G. Farrell that had he not died so young, he might have been considered one of our finest British writers in contemporary literature today. But just as the author Brian Moore was to publish a work that takes place along the coast of Bantry Co. in 1979, James Gordon Farrell in the Summer of that same year was washed out to sea while fishing in Bantry Bay. It is always a gift to be led to a winning author previously unknown to a reader, and while securing now his other writings, I will leave this historical mutiny in India with thoughts of the small 'Cities of the Silent', and the many other casualties of colonialism.