A good basic background on Indian history, society, religion, politics, etc. Not just history.
Does not get bogged down in details, but still providesA good basic background on Indian history, society, religion, politics, etc. Not just history.
Does not get bogged down in details, but still provides a coherent coverage of the fundamental issues mentioned above.
One major issue I have is that the book does not seem to have been updated since it was first written in 1991. Supposedly this is the 3rd Edition, but the only difference that I can observe is that a preface has been added for each "new" edition. In the short preface, Wolpert covers some of the major events that have occurred in the 16+ years since he wrote the book.
In my opinion, such a cursory approach is insufficient. Recent events are not placed within their suitable context along side the rest of the book's material, and the approach that was appropriate to events in 1990 is no longer so. Wolpert gives overdue emphasis & speculation on then current Indian politics, which no longer warrant such attention.
All said, this a quality book but it needs to be comprehensively updated to reflect the changes that have occurred in the near 2 decades since its effective publication....more
Not only was the book pretentious, it was also poorly written. Perhaps the translation is to blame, as I730 pages of time that I will never have back.
Not only was the book pretentious, it was also poorly written. Perhaps the translation is to blame, as I read it in English. Whatever the source, the (English) text was choppy, un-inventive, repetitive, and cliché. Mulisch's overuse of similes is nauseating.
The dialogue was also suspect. Instead of realistic, it seemed more the types of smart retort one thinks of only after an argument has concluded.
I'm at a loss as to what other reviewers see in this book. Hopefully it works better in the original Dutch.
One Amazon reviewer put it best with: "Mulisch, pedant... writes a book." ...more
Disgusting that a somebody could be such an amazing writer. (And this is a person born in Russia, writing in English!) The word "genius" seems to comeDisgusting that a somebody could be such an amazing writer. (And this is a person born in Russia, writing in English!) The word "genius" seems to come up a lot when people speak of Nabokov. Having read this, I now understand.
It took me some time to become used to the way he writes. Nabokov often does not seem to care if his point is immediately clear to the reader. Some of the gems I found in this book I could just as easily have missed in a quicker read. So close attention is rewarded. Also recommended is a dictionary since his vocabulary is...good. Knowledge of French does not hurt either (possibly an offshoot of his indifference to making his point accessible are the many untranslated French sentences).
I found the discussion of his aristocratic pedigree a bit taxing at times, but he treats it all somewhat lightly so it is manageable.
In all, I really could not ask for more from a book. His insights, observations, ideas voiced, etc...they are worthwhile, priceless.
Describing the writing does not do it any justice, so here are some examples of what I liked:
Of the nothings he hears before falling asleep as a child "It is a neutral, detached, anonymous voice, which I catch saying words of no importance to me whatever - an English or a Russian sentence, not even addressed to me, and so trivial that I hardly dare give samples, lest the flatness I wish to convey be marred by a molehill of sense." (emphasis added, by me)
About his love for a person: "I have to have all space and all time participate in my emotion, in my mortal love, so that the edge of its mortality is taken off, thus helping me fight the utter degradation, ridicule, and horror of having developed an infinity of sensation and thought within a finite existence."
Other random selections: "...when one is wide awake, at moments of robust joy and achievement, on the highest terrace of consciousness, that mortality has a chance to peer beyond its own limits...And although nothing much can be seen through the mist, there is somehow the blissful feeling that one is looking in the right direction."
"The lilac shrubs in full bloom...displayed clusters of a fluffy gray in the dusk - the ghost of purple."...more