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The Raj Quartet, Volume 2: The Day of the Scorpion (Phoenix Fiction) (Vol 2) Paperback – May 22, 1998

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Frequently Bought Together

The Raj Quartet, Volume 2: The Day of the Scorpion (Phoenix Fiction) (Vol 2) + The Jewel in the Crown (The Raj Quartet, Book 1) + The Raj Quartet, Volume 3: The Towers of Silence (Phoenix Fiction)
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Product Details

  • Series: Phoenix Fiction (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 493 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (May 22, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226743411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226743417
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #532,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Paul Scott’s vision is both precise and painterly. Like an engraver crosshatching I the illusion of fullness, he selects nuances that will make his characters take on depth and poignancy.”
(Jean G. Zorn New York Times Book Review)

“One has to admire Mr. Scott’s gifts as a buttonholing storyteller, and his rich, close-textured prose; his descriptions of action and of certain kinds of relationships are superb.”

“What has always astonished me about The Raj Quartet is its sense of sophisticated and total control of its gigantic scenario and highly varied characters. The four volumes constitute perfectly interlocking movement of a grand overall design. The politics are handled with an expertise that intrigues and never bores, and are always seen in terms of individuals.”
(Peter Green New Republic)

About the Author

Paul Scott (1920-78), born in London, held a commission in the Indian army during World War II. His many novels include Johnnie Sabib, The Chinese Love Pavilion, and Staying On.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 19 customer reviews
Great review of British history and colonialism!
Marion McGeary
In spite of these limitations, SCORPION is a wonderful book, and thus I have given it 5 stars.
Dianne Foster
It is an episodic novel of quite remarkable complexity.
Philip Spires

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
A scorpion, when death is imminent, will simply coil up into a ball, and succum to death; this is what the reader is led to believe in part two of the Raj Quartet. This prevailing theme appears and reappears throughout the entire series; sometimes subtly. Reader beware, however, as the real cause for the scorpions coil is revealed in "A Division of the Spoils."
Indians coil at English oppression as demonstrated by Hari Kumar's silence over the rape of the white woman he loves; Hindus coil at Muslim antagonism, and Susan, an English woman coils up again and again, in fear of life itself. Scott uses this theme to capture the essence of the strife between England and India, and between the Muslims and the Hindu's.
While part one of the Jewel in the crown puts the focus on Hindu culture, Scott leads the reader to understand the Muslim perspective in "The Day of the Scorpion." Perhaps Paul Scott, in the Raj Quartet, can bring the reader to more fully understand the dynamics of human nature, morality and culture better than any writer of this century. The thoughts and ideas that prevail throughout the series are applicable to many international situations. This truely makes "The Day of the Scorpion" a cross cultural work of art.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Penner on June 29, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The four volumes of the Raj Quartet overlap and complement one another, while at the same time forwarding the main storyline of the slow twilight of the British ascendancy in India, always with the rape of a white girl by Indian men as the central lodestone everpresent in the background, the nightmare which is seldom mentioned but which none can drive from their minds. Events occur, are discussed, witnessed as newspaper reports, court documents, interviews, vague recollections from years later, or perceived directly by the main characters. Then the next volume will take two or three steps back into previous events, and these same events will be perceived from another angle, perhaps only as a vague report heard far away across the Indian plain, or witnessed directly by another character, or discussed in detail long after their occurrence over drinks on a verandah. This may at times seem like rehashing, indeed as one reads the four volumes one will be subjected to the account of the rape in the Bibighar Gardens many times over; but what will also become apparent is that additional details, sometimes minor variations in interpretation and sometimes crucial facts, are being added slowly to the events discussed, as though the window to the past were being progressively wiped cleaner and cleaner with successive strokes of Scott's pen. In this way he draws the picture of the last days of the Raj not in a conventional linear fashion, but recursively, and from multiple angles. One gets the clear impression of life in India during the first half of the 20th century as similar in nature: Fragmented, multifaceted, largely dependent upon perspective and experience and never perceived whole or all at once.Read more ›
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on April 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
THE DAY OF THE SCORPION continues Paul Scott's very long story (total of 2000 pages) of the last days of British colonial rule in India. SCORPION is book 2 in the so-called Raj Quartet. These books are not about the external events per se as much as they are about the effects of these external events on the lives of several individuals, most prominently, Hari Kumar, Sarah Layton, and later in book 4 Guy Perron. In SCORPION, several new characters are introduced to the series, including members of the Layton and Kasim families.
In book 1, JEWEL IN THE CROWN, Hari Kumar was wrongfully jailed by the wicked Ronald Merrick for the rape of Daphne Manners Hari's secret love. When Daphne refused to press charges Hari was detained as a political prisoner. In JEWEL, the story of Hari's life was told from the court proceedings and other second hand accounts. JEWEL covers a period of about fifty years.
In SCORPION, Hari tells the story of his life up to 1942. A large section of this 500 page volume reads like a court proceeding since Hari shares his story with Captain Rowan, who has been ordered by the Governor to interview Kumar in prison.
Lady Manners, Daphne aunt, is a secret witness to the interview. It is Lady Manners who has persuaded the British authorities to revisit the reasons for Hari's imprisonment. During the proceedings, Hari is told Daphne is dead. "Twin rivulets gleamed on his prison cheeks, and then the image became blurred and she felt a corresponding wetness on her own..."
I think it would be extremely hard to follow this book without having first read JEWEL IN THE CROWN. A large part of SCORPION is used to elaborate and further the plot introduced in JEWEL.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Philip Spires on February 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
Just as history can't be undone, innocence, once lost, can't be retrieved. If history would allow, I would dearly love to read Paul Scott's The Day Of The Scorpion without having first read The Jewel In The Crown. Scorpion is very much a continuation of the Crown and I am not convinced that a reader coming cold to the book as a stand-alone work would cope with the multiple references to what came before. Like the characters in Paul Scott's novels, I can't undo history and can only thus reflect on another time through this forensic tale of war-torn colonial India as someone who did the Crown first.

The incidents that formed the backbone of The Jewel In The Crown are still to the fore. There are implications and consequences. But time and people have moved on. Not all have survived. There is a child called Parvati who figures large in the tale but hardly ever appears. Ronald Merrick, however, the policeman from Mayapore who was only seen from afar and through others' eyes in The Jewel In The Crown is now very much at the centre of things. His character, that of a self-made man, grammar school educated, middle, not upper class, provides the perfect contrast to the stiff upper lip fossilized Britishness of the military types. Merrick is no less British, no less confident in his prejudices. In fact he is arguably more aggressive in his need to assert a removed superiority, but his need is personal and antagonistic, containing neither the patronising nor the paternalistic tendencies of those born to rule. Racially he assumes superiority, whereas professionally he must earn it, because, unlike the upper classes, he was not born to it.

The Laytons are such an upper class colonial family. Daddy is a prisoner of war in Europe.
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