What do I need to know about ... Books?

Brief Description

  • Taine's History of English literature - Uses it to hit the alarm clock.
  • Golden Treasury - A collection of poems
  • Milton, Carlyle and Shakespeare - His apparently favorite books.
  • 'Headmaster's book' (that he reads to the children at school) (pg 131) -

Key Quotations

'At four-thirty it shrieked my sleep away. I switched on the light, picked up Taine hurriedly, and silenced it' (pg 5) - shows how organized (therefore, routined) his life is. As a reader, we get the impression that he does this everytime the clock "shrieks [his] sleep away".

'I got up at eight every day, read for the fiftieth time Milton. Carlyle and Shakespeare' (pg 1) - this sentence is found at the very beginning of the novel. Straight away, we are introduced to Krishna's generic life as an english teacher.

'This is a new method which I find fascinating' (pg 130) - talking about the headmaster's ways of teaching.

'You will also find how well I've written... And if possible don't look at the pages, say roughly between 150 and 200, in the Golden Treasury. Because someone called Wordsworth has written similar poems.' - this particular event takes place right before the argument over the clock, thus highlighting the contrast between the two pages. This scene (along with the following scene) portrays the two as a relatively childish couple: fighting over clocks and copiying poems. In his own way, Krishna is trying to be original (trying to break out of his routine?) here. He proudly tells his wife that his poem shares no similarities with Wordsworth's, despite the fact that his is virtually a carbon copy of the one in the Golden Treasury. As a reader, one might think that Krishna was joking around, but alternatively, he could have been genuinely proud of his so-called piece of work. Here we see a loving husband, trying to do something new (irony?) for his wife.

Its role in the novel

For Krishna, books play a leading role in his life. He needs them to 'mug up' his students and to stop his alarm clock when he wakes up. He uses the books to make students read lines from them repeatedly, expecting them to enjoy it as much as he does. Most of his "personal" ideas are in fact based around the thoughts of others, ranging from "Milton, Carlyle and Shakespeare". The scene where he copies a poem off the Golden Treasury is a perfect example of this. Additionally, books play a role in expressing the Headmasters passion for the way he teaches his students, as he puts so much effort into creating them. Furthermore the books provide the Headmaster with something to do when he cannot "sleep" providing him with an outlet for his energy. Another role of books in the novel is to demostrate to the reader that Krishna is, in fact, changing, this is shown when he reading alound to his class and 'the sheer poetry' of the text makes him keep reading.