Colonial discourse studies, however, seek to offer in-depth analyses of colonial epistemologies, and also connect them to the history of colonial institutions. David Arnold has analysed the imperial medical system in British India in an analogous vein. Loomba, p. The individuation of subjects that took place in Europe was denied colonised people. Although both fictions deal with the Indian community, the settings are different: A House for Mr Biswas is set in Trinidad and tells the story of Mohun Biswas, a young man who is more or less forced into marrying one of the Tulsi daughters, Shama.
After his wedding, he discovers that the Tulsis are a powerful clan led by the matriarch, Mrs Tulsi, and her henchman, Seth. Their aim is to suppress any form of individuality within the extended family. On the contrary, Family Values is set an unnamed contemporary Indian town, which could be any town, just as the family described, which remains nameless to the very end of the novel, could represent any Indian middle-class family.
Thus, he seems to be fated by illness and a disabled body, which are both associated with superstition in the Indian community of Trinidad. This affection is used in the novel as an illustration of his somatic symptoms, of his nervousness at having to submit to Tulsi authority, and it thus becomes the objective correlative of his anxiety. The latter is finally perceived by the protagonist as a threat to his physical integrity.
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Then there was a roar that overrode them all. When it struck the house the window burst open, the lamp went instantly out, the rain lashed in, the lightning lit up the room and the world outside, and when the lightning went out the room was part of the black void. But Mr Biswas only muttered on the bed, and the rain and wind swept through the room with unnecessary strength and forced open the door to the drawing-room, wall-less, floorless, of the house Mr Biswas had built.
Similarly the enumeration of phrasal verbs emphasizes the new chaos characterising both inner and outer worlds, leading to the void.
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Indeed, the episode shows how deeply schizophrenic he has become. Yet, the scene has reached a turning-point: although he is convinced that he is not sick, the juxtaposed depiction of his own internal point of view and of the perspectives of the receptionist and of other patients, who stare at him, clearly shows that his illness is still very serious.
Mr Biswas realized with horror that he had whispered the word. The surgery door opened, a man was heard but not seen, a woman came out, and someone else went in. A soldier of the legion lay dying in Algiers. He smiled at the memory of Huckleberry Finn […].
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When he looked up he intercepted an exchange of glances between the receptionist and the lame man. You know, I am not a sick man at all.
The lame man cleared his throat noisily, very noisily for a small man and agitated his stiff leg. I am feeling much better, thank you. Burn it, Sell it. The protagonist, therefore, is unambiguously depicted as a mad man in this scene. But the children always think of these rooms as of places to be regarded in awe, and they are frightened or intimidated by what can be found there since an impressive quantity of products ismentioned, and they sometimes find it difficult to identify the purposes of certain utensils, which terrify them:.
Knowing that to protest was to make herself absurd, Savi went to the Rose Room, with its basins and quaint jugs and tubes and smells, and complained to Shama. They went to the Rose Room. Sushila admitted them and at once went outside. A shaded oil lamp burned low. There was a smell of ammonia, bay rum, rum, brandy, disinfectant, and a variety of febrifuges. Below a white canopy with red applique apples Mrs Tulsi lay, barely recognizable, a bandage around her forehead, her temples dotted with lumps of soft candle, her nostrils stuffed with some white medicament.
The marble topped bedside table was a profusion of bottles, jars and glasses. They are thus introduced mostly as sham illnesses, a fact not lost on Biswas, the rebellious son-in-law who ironically laughs at such grotesque artificiality:. Mr Biswas asked. You know, it does beat me why you all sisters so anxious to look after the old hen. She did look after you? She just pick you up and marry you off to any old coconut-seller and crab-catcher. This microcosm is characterized by many different illnesses and is suffused with suffering and death, as the novel makes clear from the very first lines:.
Surrounded by illness and death, the boy looks up every disease-ridden word he hears: period, hysterectomy, uterine wall, fallopian tubes, vagina. He is growing up with disease. At the beginning of the novel, the boy is described as lonely, as if abandoned, although his parents do love him. Too little interference ends in solitude; too much in boundary crossing.
Boundary crossing cannot go much beyond this. Their punishment is now to have to live with themselves. And nice guy Tony is now ironically free to marry—not Rose, but her rival for his affections, Jean Martle.
View 2 comments. Sep 16, Ed Green rated it really liked it. The gentility of the language and manners combined with the odiousness of the crime make for an eerie reading experience. The plot, characters and situations are straightforward. What is fascinating about this story is the fleshing out of the characters, their feelings and relationships and what they understand and misunderstand about each other. This is revealed by their dialog.
We learn about them by what they conceal and what they reveal, and to whom. None of the adult characters a The gentility of the language and manners combined with the odiousness of the crime make for an eerie reading experience. None of the adult characters are completely sympathetic. They are: Three men: One good looking, wealthy and emotional Tony One good looking and not wealthy, but with "expectations"; single Dennis One ugly, but with inherited wealth; single Paul Two pretty unmarried women: One clever, scheming, dishonest Rose One smart and honest Jean Tony's wife Julia dies shortly after the birth of their daughter Effie.
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Tony pledges to his wife that he will not marry anyone else while Effie lives. Rose refuses Dennis' proposal of marriage. Jean refuses Paul's proposal of marriage. Mar 20, Ivan rated it it was ok. Beever of Eastmead, and of 'Beever and Bream,' was a close, though not a cruel observer of what went on, as she always said, at the other house.
I've loved the other four James novels that I've read and was looking forward to starting this new collection, but ugh! Originally written as a play that he couldn't get produced, he then turned it into this slim novel that just didn't work for me at all.
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Spare yourself and only read it if you want to say that you've read everything he wrote. Good luck with that! Jun 01, David Ferrari rated it it was amazing. After all, he is the finest of all the creative writers. His novels are perfect. We read them to learn perfect aesthetic. We look for little details full of much meaning. We try to analyze the characters minds. And so I suppose if one must rate a Henry James novel it is only to attempt to explain its accessibility in these areas.
I really don't know how I felt about this book. I enjoyed it, but there was something weirdly intangible about it as a narrative. It occupied a similar space in my brain as Pride and Prejudice, in that the story was very grounded but something about it was also extremely cerebral. So considering that this is a "minor work", I'm excited to read his more highly regarded works.
Feb 02, Donna rated it it was amazing. A reviewer called this "a hair-raising tale", and very unlike any other Henry James book. I concur and could not put it down. Sep 15, Trent rated it liked it. Interesting but one can see why this is considered a "minor" James novel. Sep 22, Stephen rated it liked it.