Flood of Fire (Anglais) Relié – 4 août 2015
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Description du produit
Revue de presse
For the past weeks, [Amitav Ghosh] has been holed up in his Goa home, putting the finishing touches to Flood of Fire, the third part of his epic Ibis trilogy. The project has taken a decade. The three novels, starting with Sea of Poppies . . . have cemented his reputation (Financial Times)
Totally absorbing (Literary Review)
As ever for Mr Ghosh, language is a great tumasher, and it is not surprising that he is on the shortlist for the biennial Man Booker International Prize . . . He swims with relish in a lexicon he has made his own, a rich brew of English, Bangla, Hindi, Parsi, Malay, Cantonese and pidgin at a time when free trade and imperialism were recombining Asian cultures and tongues . . . Mr Ghosh's genius is to paint this world from its teeming heart, rather than from the perspective of metropolitan centres of power in London, or, for that matter, Peking (The Economist)
It is a testimony to Ghosh's great skills that he can both teach us history and create believable fictional characters . . . What makes Ghosh's characters come alive all the more is the use of language . . . Ghosh, occasionally, translates, but often does not, yet pulls off this presentation of the medley of tongues his characters use with great aplomb (Mihir Bose Independent)
The final instalment of an extraordinary trilogy . . . Ghosh's story roars along, constantly flipping between high seriousness and low humour. It is simultaneously wrong-footing and delightful, riveting and diverting . . . His expansive trilogy has, in fact, advanced his story by only a few years; but the ground it has covered is almost immeasurable (Guardian)
Ghosh's scrupulous depiction of army life is just one part of this tour de force of historical description. Together, the novels are a weighty and precious chronicle of those times, a compendium of lost habits, languages and attitudes . . . Flood of Fire has all the romance, subterfuge and ingenious plotting to keep Ghosh's audience firmly lagowed. But it is the integrity of his historical vision that will ensure his books outlast other literary dumbpokes (FT Weekend)
The best bits of the trilogy, however, do not merely satirize the greed and hypocrisy of the foreign traders; but allow crosscurrents of sympathy . . . full of unforgettable vignettes (The Spectator)
A huge, sprawling, rumbustious novel . . . rich and engrossing . . . a splendid adventure story, full of rich and varied characters and romantic entanglements . . . In the last chapters Amitav Ghosh pulls the strings of his enthralling trilogy together. It's a remarkable achievement: an adventure novel full of feeling, but one which also invites - even compels - you to think about the assumptions which men act upon (Scotsman)
The star of the proceedings is the historical detail that really brings it all alive. Anyone who knows me knows my love of historical factoids and Amitav provides enough for us to luxuriate in them. The difference between the treatment of British and Indian soldiers, the colonial structure, the importance of China and the opium fields, not to mention the rituals surrounding taking opium - it's all here with much more besides, simultaneously entertaining and educating. I will definitely be going back to the beginning of the trilogy and look forward to catching up (Bookbag)
Amply justifying the hype and expectation, this is a thrillingly realised and richly populated novel, imbued with a wealth of historical detail, suffused with the magic of place and plotted with great verve: Flood of Fire is a beautiful novel in its own right, and a compelling conclusion to an epic and sweeping story, one of the greatest literary works of our time. For Amitav Ghosh, the glittering literary prizes beckon (Nudge Book)
Graphic and gripping (New Statesman)
A terrific read. I wish Amitav Ghosh could live forever, like Ganesh, the Hindu patron god of writers and complete what he once planned. Flood of Fire, alas, will have to do (The Times)
If you fancy a rip-roaring story with history, an erudite critique of colonialism, funny and full of contemporary parallels, you could try Amitav Ghosh's third in his Ibis trilogy, Flood of Fire (i)
Flood of Fire sweeps Amitav Ghosh majestically to the pinnacle of historical fiction writers and fittingly completes his Ibis trilogy . . . Ghosh has long set a standard for the kind of fine historical fiction writing that paints perfect pictures of what life was like for ordinary people as the world changed around them at breakneck pace. What sets him apart from other writers in this genre is his knowledge of the subject and his detailed descriptions and minute detail (Dundee Courier)
Unexpectedly comic (Sunday Times)
Ghosh's ebullient fluency in the colorful argot of the contentious worlds he brings forth distinguishes this passionately researched series as much as his wily and zealous exposure of entrenched discrimination pertaining to race, religion, gender, caste, and class. Once again Ghosh proves himself to be a virtuoso scene-setter and action writer . . . This feverishly detailed, vividly panoramic, tumultuous, funny, and heartbreaking tale offers a vigorous conclusion to Ghosh's astutely complex and profoundly resonant geopolitical saga (Booklist)
A rip roaring story rich with history, an erudite critique of colonialism, funny and full of contemporary parallels (Independent)
Sweeps Amitav Ghosh majestically to the pinnacle of historical fiction writers (Oxford Times)
This doorstopper of a novel, thick as curry with Anglo-Indian patois and with a bundle of rattlingly good narratives, makes one desperate that he does continue (The Times, Books of the Year)
A rollicking wordfest that sprawls across land, sea, social class and ethnicities, sweeping us along in its narrative drive (Guardian)
By an ingenious hotchpotch of different languages and registers, Ghosh's story roars along, constantly flipping between high seriousness and low humour. It is simultaneously wrong-footing and delightful (Guardian) --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition CD.
Présentation de l'éditeur
The thrilling climax to the Ibis trilogy that began with the phenomenal Booker-shortlisted Sea of Poppies.
It is 1839 and tension has been rapidly mounting between China and British India following the crackdown on opium smuggling by Beijing. With no resolution in sight, the colonial government declares war.
One of the vessels requisitioned for the attack, the Hind, travels eastwards from Bengal to China, sailing into the midst of the First Opium War. The turbulent voyage brings together a diverse group of travellers, each with their own agenda to pursue. Among them is Kesri Singh, a sepoy in the East India Company who leads a company of Indian sepoys; Zachary Reid, an impoverished young sailor searching for his lost love, and Shireen Modi, a determined widow en route to China to reclaim her opium-trader husband's wealth and reputation. Flood of Fire follows a varied cast of characters from India to China, through the outbreak of the First Opium War and China's devastating defeat, to Britain's seizure of Hong Kong.
Flood of Fire is a thrillingly realised and richly populated novel, imbued with a wealth of historical detail, suffused with the magic of place and plotted with verve. It is a beautiful novel in its own right, and a compelling conclusion to an epic and sweeping story - it is nothing short of a masterpiece.--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition CD.
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The first book, Sea of Poppies, reveled in the pidgin English, especially Mr. Doughty who ironically being the most casually racist was also the most steeped in the language and ways of the natives; and the highly personal stories set against a well researched backdrop of opium farming in India, and it's destruction of farming and families in rural east India.
However, Amitav went into a complete tangent in the second book with new characters, and not very engaging stories (botanist in the east is no comparison to a fallen and disgraced raja).
In this book, in order to bring the characters together, he has to resort to a lot of 'hand of god' coincidences and spends laborious pages explaining and connecting the dots. This results in the book losing the brilliant pidgin English from the first book. Further it becomes in places a war strategy book, of which it does a good enough job, but loses in bargain the human stories and the wonderful language that made the first book unique.
I wish Amitav had built on the small set of characters from the Sea of Poppies, rather than getting too ambitious.
The first novel, Sea of Poppies (2008), describes opium production in India, and is mostly set on a former slaving ship, the Ibis. The second, River of Smoke (2011), follows an opium ship, the Anahita, to Canton. With Ghosh’s new book, the perfidy and brutality of British “free trade” comes into sharp focus. Ghosh’s characters convene in ways that unpick how and why the British went to war with China after the Emperor banned them from importing opium into his country.
As the narrative moves from India to China, Ghosh vividly brings to life men and women who cope with the immense impact of the European empires of the 19th century: the undreamt-of opportunities to make money, the challenge to the customs and rituals of ancient societies and the creation of almost unbearable conflicts of loyalties.
In Flood of Fire, Ghosh returns to Canton to describe in gory detail the terrible vengeance exacted on it by the British. The first half of the novel, however, is set mainly in Calcutta and Bombay. We meet Kesri Singh, brother of Deeti, the main protagonist of Sea of Poppies (the first book of the trilogy). Kesri is unaware of the fate that had befallen the unfortunate Deeti who was forced to flee from her home in Bihar and became part of the Ibis family travelling to Mauritius. Kesri is a havildar, or “sepoy officer”, in the Bengal Army, sharing a close bond with his British officer Captain Mee. Through this relationship, Ghosh explores the inner world of the East India Company’s army: sepoy units of the almost exclusively upper-caste Bengal Army could function as khap panchayats with the informal authority to excommunicate soldiers whose families had transgressed injunctions pertaining to marriage. In a disquieting scene, Kesri is declared an outcast as punishment for the “sins” of his sister and there is nothing that Mee can do about it. As a matter of fact, the Company was unwilling to interfere in such matters, and actively fostered upper-caste prejudices.
Then there is the (“black”) American shipwright and sailor Zachary Reid who had assisted some of the Ibis subalterns, including Deeti’s companion Kalua, to escape from the ship before it reached the shores of Mauritius. Reid’s trial in Calcutta and his torrid clandestine affair (after his acquittal) with the wife of the powerful British opium dealer Benjamin Burnham paves the way, in Flood of Fire, for his emergence as an opium merchant. Opium, we comprehend, contaminates the soul irredeemably. By the end of this novel, the lovable Malum Zikri (Zachary) of Sea of Poppies is a detestable though hugely successful person. The extensive, explicit, descriptions of sex are slightly unusual in a Ghosh book, even if they are not entirely out of place in the story.
In Bombay, Bahram’s widow, Shireen, struggles to cope with the innumerable problems created by her husband’s death. The enormous financial liabilities resulting from Bahram’s failed opium venture (the central plot of River of Smoke) are partly taken care of by Shireen’s brothers who use this as an instrument to reduce their sister to complete subordination. The real calamity for her is the startling discovery that Bahram had a wife in China, Chi-Mei (now dead), through whom he had a son, Ah Fatt alias Freddie, first introduced to readers in Sea of Poppies, as a mysterious prisoner on board the Ibis. The disclosure about Chi-Mei is made by a close friend of Bahram, the Armenian Zadig Bey, who then manages to persuade a very reluctant Shireen to undertake a voyage to China both to visit her late husband’s grave in Hong Kong and possibly meet Ah Fatt. The rapid transformation of Shireen is a trifle unconvincing — from her adoption of European-style clothes to the ease with which she is able to handle the opposition to her growing proximity to Zadig Bey. On the other hand, we can see that the journey is immensely liberating for her, considering that her marriage with Bahram had not been particularly gratifying for the couple.
In the latter half of the novel, the major and minor characters converge upon Canton–Macau–Hong Kong. Most of the action takes place at these locations or aboard the three ships which have transported these figures from India: Ibis, Anahita and Hind. The first two vessels are already familiar to us from the earlier novels, while the Hind is a new addition. Ghosh, the historian, now completely takes over to recount the violence inflicted on the Chinese people during the military assault of 1841. The entire narrative is, as expected, based on painstaking research. The British mobilised force on a large scale, unleashing the firepower of their advanced warships, of which the most formidable was the iron-clad steam-propelled frigate named inappropriately (from the Chinese point of view) Nemesis.
As in any literary work of epic proportions, there are several relatively minor characters in Flood of Fire too, all of them fascinating in their own way. There are, for instance, the fifers Dicky and Raju. They are part of the squad of “banjee-boys”, small kids recruited mainly from among “Eurasians”.
Without opium, it has been said, “there may have been no empire at all”. Nevertheless, declining interest in economic history in recent years has been accompanied by scholarly amnesia about the linkages between opium and colonialism. Significantly, it is an eminent writer of fiction who has redirected attention to the place of opium in the scheme of empire.
Ghosh’s trilogy demonstrates the utter inanity of such an argument. It also compels us to think about the complicity of some of the subjects of the British Indian empire in the colonial subjugation of China.
PS - In the epilogue Mr Ghosh claims that the research that was used for these stories was based on notes and materials that belonged to the former Raja Neel and his offsprings and says there is still more material that has not been used. I take it to mean that the author is still toying with the idea to write more stories from 1842 on ..... Boy!!!! I can hardly wait
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