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The March on India

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines works which belong more properly to the literary imagination and reflect the same experience, in particular the contrast between the Allies and the Japanese. Kwai is successful in depicting the courage of resistance; it fails signally in giving an account of the nature of the enemy, as Ian Watt, historian of the English novel and himself a prisoner on the Burma-Siam Railway, has so skilfully indicated. The experience of being a prisoner of war of the Japanese, whether fictively recreated by Pierre Boulle, or recalled in tranquility by Lurens van der post, seems to lead to similar conclusions: the Japanese are not to be reached by normal rational human appeals. They live in a paradox of physical ugliness and moral beauty in obedience to a deeply submerged racial soul; and they lack the organizing ability and gift for calculation that is the mark of Western genius.

Keywords:Ian Watt; Japanese; Laurens van der Post; Pierre Boulle; prisoner; river Kwai



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