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Brief Reviews
by Wayne Grady

The drudgery was no doubt real; the Thompsons taught classes of 120 students,most of them 16-year-olds who "exhibited, on occasion, a gaucherie well known in this age-group in other cultures." They lectured in English to people who had no reason on earth to think that Shelley was a great poet. And they were caught in an India that was itself 44 caught in the difficult transition from colonial to independent times [the Raj had ended in 1947] as well as from traditional to modem times." Some writers might have found all that stimulating - indeed, some writers might have seen in this quiet college a symbol of the changes taking place in the whole country, maybe even the world. But Thompson is too preoce well cupied by his domestic arrangements to have noticed: of it, but it helps. Frank Thompson doesn`t seem to "Frank is finding it hard to buckle down to marking his 560 have liked India very much, however, and it doesn`t help. He papers," Elaine wrote to her parents. Even India`s beauty and his wife, Elaine, spent three years in southwest India, from 1953 to 1956, both of them teaching - he English, she psychology - in a college in Kottayam, a town in the province of Kerala, and Journey to India (Oberon, 141 pages, $24.95 cloth) makes it sound more like an ordeal than a mind-broadening experience. He complains of "the long, slow attrition of the term," of his "struggle to maintain discipline," of his students` "implacable demands." He had evidently become part of that colonial British public school tradition in which masters suffer their fate as best they can until something better comes along. Except that, being from Canada, Thompson was a fellow colonial. made him melancholy: Nights, to begin with: we found the nights oppressive when we first arrived. The rains came. The sound of insects became a densetextured throbbing. We could look up sometimes into the great tree that stood high above our house at the end of the football field and see the faint lights of fireflies; the small lights would flutter to the ground, glowing and then disappearing, with the damp gust of the monsoon wind and the first spattering of rain. We sometimes felt as if entombed.

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