Book: The tragedy of the Korosko


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, best known for his books on Sherlock Holmes was a prolific writer. I had the great opportunity to pick up one of his less known books – The Tragedy of the Korosko. Evidently, I need to start reading more of his other novels.

The tragedy of the Korosko

It’s a beautiful work of fiction that calls into question your own moral and religious values. It also speaks about British colonialism and this touches very close to home, seeing how Singapore used to be a British colony. In addition, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Egypt, and this book that’s set in Egypt brought back many wonderful memories of the country, culture and scenery.

Let me start my quoting a paragraph from the book, that left a deep impression on me.

So they were to have a reprieve for a few hours, though they rode in that dark shadow of death which was closing in upon them. What is there in life that we should cling to it so? It is not the pleasures, for those whose hours are one long pain shrink away screaming when they see merciful Death holding his soothing arms out for them. It is not associations  for we will change all of them before we walk of our own free wills down that broad road which every son and daughter if man must tread. It is the fear of losing the I, that dear, intimate I, which we think we know so well, although it is eternally doing things which surprise us? Is it that which makes the deliberate suicide cling madly to the bridge pier as the river sweeps him by? Or is it that Nature is so afraid that all her weary workmen may suddenly throw down their tools and strike, that she has invented this fashion of keeping them constant to their present work? But there it is, and all these tired, harassed, humiliated folk rejoiced in the few more hours of suffering which were left to them.

Perhaps the reason why I enjoyed this book so much was because of the depth of emotion is stirred in me. There were times when I had to stop reading and take control of the thoughts and feelings that welled up inside of me. This is book is heavy. It starts with a rapid introduction of the cast of characters before launching into a debate about whether there should be a British presence in Egypt. Slowly the action picks up and more philosophical questions are thrown at the reader in quick succession. It looks at how best to appreciate a different and ancient culture. How does one show the appropriate respect towards ruins from a distant time? It explores the value of life, how one’s life is placed at a higher value than another’s. Of course there’s the religious aspect, of whether one is willing to die for their beliefs. What does it mean to make a stand and at what cost. The book goes through cycles of hope and despair, it truly was an emotional roller-coaster ride and I loved every minute of it.

The cast of characters were brilliant. The development was subtle and to see love continue to be steadfast in the midst of such distress was amazing. For love to blossom, was beyond words.

As one of the character’s say at the end of the book

It is my firm belief that there was not one of us who did not rise to a greater height during those days in the desert that ever before or since.

One event changed their lives and I would go so far to say that this book has moulded my perspective on life. I wholeheartedly recommend this book, although I admit that it might not be to everyone’s taste. It spoke so acutely to me because of two things. I have religion that I firmly believe and I’ve learnt of what life was like under colonial rule. Perhaps the book will speak to you differently or not at all, whatever the case, do share your thoughts. I would love to hear what you felt about the book.

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  1. […] being said, I must admit that I quite like Doyle’s other writings a bit better.  The Tragedy of the Korosko left a deep impression on me, more so than Sherlock. Of course there are still little moments which […]



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