Paul Scott: A Life of the Author of the Raj Quartet

Hilary Spurling, Author W. W. Norton & Company $24.95 (438p) ISBN 978-0-393-02938-3
In this fine biography Spurling is equally at home in the literary, social and psychological worlds of a talented novelist who died of cancer in 1978 after winning Britain's prestigious Booker literary award but several years before TV's The Jewel in the Crown , based on the four novels in his Raj Quartet, brought him world renown. Spurling, author of a biography of Ivy Compton Burnett, examines in scrupulous, sympathetic detail Scott's difficult early years; his several stays in India which inspired him to explore with relentless honesty the declining years of the British Raj; the repressed homosexuality that put a disastrous strain on his marriage; and his stint as an unorthodox but extremely popular university teacher. Not a historical novelist in the accepted sense (``One is not ruled by the past . . . one simply is it,'' he insisted), Scott was fascinated by people. As Spurling subtly shows, Hari Kumar, the psychologically displaced Indian, and Ronald Merrick, the homosexual army officer who torments him, probably Scott's most memorable characters, reflect aspects of his own personality. Photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
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