""Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen"
I don't know whether Fitzgerald got inspired by these lines of thought by Mark Twain, but I can assure you that the above quote sums up this whole short story except that Benjamin Button was born at the age of seventy, approach till the stage of milk-suckling baby, and definitely leads not a life of 'infinitely happy'.
Succinct though it may be, it leaves one with deep thoughts, which lingers on, even after long finishing it. We all come up with absurd ideas, irrational dreams and how often we wish them to be true. But what if our dreams turn real and we realize that it is too far from what we wanted? This is one such story which packs all our absurdity and wishful thinking together, and presents it in a beautiful way to us. Unlike Kafka's Metamorphosis where the protagonist wakes up as a giant bug one day, another perfect example of an absurd conceit transposed into the reality, what makes this story distinct is the fact that the absurd imagination portrayed by the author is the absurdity of the mankind as a whole. Be it our overwhelming desire for being young forever; or the wish to know the number of years one would live, at the very moment of birth itself; or the desire to be born fully equipped with consciousness, reason, language and other skills; these are all the ideas which has remained and been passed on from time to time by our literature, poetry, art, epics and mythology etc. These are the absurdities of the mankind. And that's what makes this story special(and popular enough to turn into a successful movie).
More than presenting a story, the author us makes to laugh and get enamored by it, and also pushes us to rethink about our own irrationality/absurd hopes/lies, we weave around ourselves to make our existence bearable. Personally, it made me to wonder and realize that many a times, our reality is far more beautiful, grandeur and perfect than all our imaginations.
Fitzgerald has poetry in his prose, perfection in the story-telling and a mystery in his imagination. This is the first book of the author which I laid my hands on, and I am bewitched.
A True Surreal!
P.S: I am yet to watch the movie starring Brad Pitt, but I am planning to watch it soon. Hoping it would delight me as well.
P.S.S: This is my 150th book added to the goodreads 'read' section. It is indeed a trivial incident when compared to the larger scheme of life, yet this number made me a little happy today. (less)
* Never read this book in a crowd. * Never read this book when you are not alone. * Never read this book after mid-night. * Never read this book with the doors of your room kept open. * Never read this book sitting down on the floor.
...because when I read this book in my room, with the doors open at 1.00 am, my mother woke up from her sleep and got awe-shocked at the manner I was rolling on the floor laughing, asked me, "It's been a long time I saw you laughing this way. What happened? Are you talking with your boy friend?".
This is a hilarious play which is of the type that makes you laugh first and think later. Wilde rips off the sentiments, demeanor, and foolishness of our social system, and it is quite unfortunate that many of our social morals and ideals still remain the same even after all these years.
Although, many are enchanted by the clever and witty statements in this book, what actually fascinated me are the casual remarks with a profound psychological implications. For instance, read over this dialogue by Lady Bracknell, "I hadn’t been there since her[Lady Harbury] poor husband’s death. I never saw a woman so altered ; she looks quite twenty years younger." and this conversation between Miss Prism and Cecily,
"Miss Prism: Memory, my dear Cecily, is the diary that we all carry about with us.
Cecily: Yes , but it usually chronicles the things that have never happened, and couldn’t possibly have happened. I believe that Memory is responsible for nearly all the three-volume novels that Mudie sends us."
As a student of economics and someone with a deep interest in political science, one of my favorite quote happens to be the one said by Miss Prism, "Cecily, you will read your Political Economy in my absence. The chapter on the Fall of the Rupee you may omit. It is somewhat too sensational. Even these metallic problems have their melodramatic side."
Earlier, I detested Wilde for having no grand metaphysical inclinations. But, now, as I grow, I find his writings more full of life, a quality absent even in some of the best philosophers the world has given us.
By the way, in case, you are breaking my Never-do-these-when-you-read-this-book list, which I have provided at the beginning, I strongly warn you of the severe consequences that may follow such as having a deep, warm sleep with a smile left across your face. I bet!!
P.S: Immediately after finishing up this book, I saw a movie under the same name starring Colin Firth. For anyone who want to see the play come alive, I highly recommend this movie to them. (less)
Consider: When was the last time you entered into a friendly banter with a tramp( I mean with no oozing heart of humanity or without a streak sympathe...moreConsider: When was the last time you entered into a friendly banter with a tramp( I mean with no oozing heart of humanity or without a streak sympathetic tone) Or tossed a coin to a beggar without a self-appreciation about your qualities of altruism? Are you the one who think that all those poor are so because they are lazy-bum? Are you a writer or an artist who is afraid of poverty? Or simply someone who loves eating in big restaurants?
If you are one of the above, this book is meant for your reading(include me in any of the above categories, for I am no exception).
'Down and Out in Paris and London' is a memoir by George Orwell which covers his life spent as a ploungeur and a tramp in the two big European cities and carries his experience in/from streets. Beggars, Criminals, tramps, thieves, chanters, dirt, prostitutes, destitution, salvation army, rat-filled kitchen, saccharine - possibly everything socially loathed and detested forms the very core of this book. Half way through it, it might make one want to puke, feel nauseous and unbearably ill, yet you continue reading till the end because of only one reason, George Orwell.
Authentic and keenly observed experiences written in subtle, witty, aesthetic, engaging sentences flowing with a philosopher's detachment and with a rare child-like curiosity, if one has to learn writing non-fiction, one must read and learn it from Orwell, the journalist, essayist and the critic.
Throughout the whole book, there is never a judgement or a prejudice marring his observation and it is reflected in his admirable sentences written with no fringes and carrying no unwarranted adjectives and adverbs. He is a master in the way he narrates, telling the readers only the facts and eliciting feelings out of them. This goes the same even when he narrates the account of Charlie's 'happiest day'(this as said by Charlie himself) which turns out to be a rape of an innocent peasant girl who cried out for mercy in a brothel, or when he narrates 'walking miles in empty stomach', or working for fifteen hours a day in a hot hell underground kitchen, or encountering a homosexual attempt upon him by a fellow tramp, or bathing in a bucket of water with floating slime.
Poverty has either been made romantic or disgusting in literature. It was never made relatable, understandable and interesting. Moreover, our society itself makes poverty estranged from our lives although ironically we continue to live along with it side-by-side. The greatest achievement of this book is that it shatters the wall and brings the underground world to our perception with no gloss or boredom. It also makes poverty less fearsome and makes us realize that every life upon this earth has a tragedy, comedy, loss, story - succinctly, every life is interesting. Bozo is one such wonderful personality who although struck in utter impoverishment has a deep love and understanding for the stars, making Orwell to call his 'an exceptional man'.
As we were crossing the bridge he stopped in one of the alcoves to rest. He fell silent for a minute or two, and to my surprise I saw that he was looking at the stars. He touched my arm and pointed to the sky with his stick. ‘Say, will you look at Aldebaran! Look at the colour. Like a — great blood orange!’ From the way he spoke he might have been an art critic in a picture gallery. I was astonished. I confessed that I did not know which Aldebaran was — indeed, I had never even noticed that the stars were of different colours. Bozo began to give me some elementary hints on astronomy, pointing out-the chief constellations. He seemed concerned at my ignorance. I said to him, surprised: ‘You seem to know a lot about stars.’ ‘Not a great lot. I know a bit, though. I got two letters from the Astronomer Royal thanking me for writing about meteors. Now and again I go out at night and watch for meteors. The stars are a free show; it don’t cost anything to use your eyes.’
Orwell not only narrates but also put forth some uncomfortable questions on the very structure of our society and also helps us to find solution to the eternal problem of poverty which seems to consumes millions of lives in boredom, ignorance and lack of zeal. This book is highly recommended to every serious writer/thinker/artist/intellectual. What would you take away from it? In Orwell's own words,
At present I do not feel that I have seen more than the fringe of poverty. Still, I can point to one or two things I have definitely learned by being hard up. I shall never again think that all tramps are drunken scoundrels, nor expect a beggar to be grateful when I give him a penny, nor be surprised if men out of work lack energy, nor subscribe to the Salvation Army, nor pawn my clothes, nor refuse a handbill, nor enjoy a meal at a smart restaurant. That is a beginning.
I vouch the above words with my entire zeal. Now, that Orwell is no longer here, you know what I miss? His observations and stories on hell of how interesting it otherwise could be.
Thank you, Orwell, for leaving us such a treasure behind.
I enjoyed reading this novel for two important reasons: One, for the way it dealt with the complex vagaries of the Workers' Union and the position of...moreI enjoyed reading this novel for two important reasons: One, for the way it dealt with the complex vagaries of the Workers' Union and the position of the business management without adding any ideological hues. Second, for talking about the social status, the intricacies and the plight of being a women in our Indian society. In some respects(read as economic independence), women are indeed enjoying certain freedom unavailable to those before three decades(this book was published in 1981); however, in most of the respects the social problems still lingers on. Have we grown enough to accept divorce(not legally but socially) in our society today? Are we ready to accept a woman as virtuous who breaks away from a marriage just to re-marry a man with whom she falls in love subsequently? In spite of our famous '2 states' which sells as cup-cakes, how many love-birds are able to marry as per their heart desire despite the differences in caste, language, region etc?
Ah! How many questions? And thanks to this book for posing them to me.
However, in the end when Shankaran marries Kamatchi, who is adept at cooking, cleaning but shares not his interest in literature or poetry or arts, it just made me to draw a smirk in my face and ask the author, "இதற்குத்தான் 'நீயும்' ஆசைபட்டாய பாலகுமாரா?".
P.S: Suppose if Shyamili had had a laptop with internet connectivity, Facebook, goodreads and other social networks, is it not true that there wouldn't be a need for Shankaran or fear in the name of honour or the estranged moral codes on sex imposed by this society? I suddenly realized how fortune I am to have been born and alive this minute, in this age. :)(less)
A pack of entertaining short stories with Srirangam(situated near Trichy, TN) as the backdrop. Offers a sneak peak into the lives of Brahmins, who are...moreA pack of entertaining short stories with Srirangam(situated near Trichy, TN) as the backdrop. Offers a sneak peak into the lives of Brahmins, who are the predominant habitants in and around Srirangam, their language, lifestyle and what-not. Assures a joyous read. (less)
An inspiring and a hilarious story of how an entrepreneur unleashed his dreams and turned it to reality. The author's criticisms and observations on t...moreAn inspiring and a hilarious story of how an entrepreneur unleashed his dreams and turned it to reality. The author's criticisms and observations on the plight of Indian society which hardly supports entrepreneurs, or for that matter anyone who choose their own path, with doses of adequate humor is the gross reality told with delectability. I especially enjoyed that chapter named "Mother Swear"(I was rolling on floor laughing, literally). Its a story with characters we see in our daily life, yet with a hero as its central theme. If I do not become as great as Steve Jobs, I wish I end up as enterprising as Varun. Remarkable, entertaining and relatable.
As I read through this book, I was imagining, which followed me as a motif until the end, the figure of Dostoevsky laughing heartily, with his heart f...more
As I read through this book, I was imagining, which followed me as a motif until the end, the figure of Dostoevsky laughing heartily, with his heart filled with infuriation, and his eyes studying me, steadily and gracefully, at the way I got transfixed with his ideas and prose; the way I was shuddering and smattering to pieces, yet remaining hapless; the way he has made me go naked by telling the truth about myself(and everyone of us); and above all, how in spite of all his attacks and concrete blows, I am reeling inside under intense pain, yet finding pleasure in my own despair proving him once again true. If true liberation means not to be ashamed in front of oneself, then it is this book which liberated me.
'Notes from the Underground' is a thorough and a convincing argument against 'Rational egoism'. To be simple, it is against the philosophy of holding reason as the only absolute without taking into question the various other active forces like the fundamental individuality of human soul, complexity of human personality and the power of free will. To be simpler, it's a champion of Individualism, and is against all utopias, totalitarianism, any kind of dogmatism, and the evaluation of human beings on the basis of their intelligence alone(History says that Dostoevsky wrote this book as a response to the revolutionary novel titled 'What is to be done?' which was read by Lenin five times in one summer, and which eventually formed the emotional support of Russian Revolution and every blood shed that followed).
The Underground man is an extremely intelligent one, conscious and has a sense of "beautiful and lofty"(a term borrowed from Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant)and considers himself a 'developed man'. Because of this exalted sense of his own self he considers the rest of the men around him with contempt, feeling of hatred although at the same time, paradoxically, he is also afraid of them and thinks that people around him are better than him. Throughout his life he remains in the dark cellar, day dreaming, spiteful, shameful, lazy, paranoiac and detached from every other human being around him. He tells us that, in his youth, he tried rather earnestly to live by the ideals he found in European literature and philosophy. He talks to us, or rather write to himself, after 40 years of underground life.
Full of monologues, confessions and ramblings he writes about the effects of the philosophy he chose in his early life. His problems are the problems of every thinking man; every intellectual; every individual who takes pride in his intelligence - his pettiness, his contempt for the people around him, his arrogance, his yearning for a recognition for his intelligence and moral goodness, his weakness, his doubts, ridiculousness, inaction, indecision. Is he a hero? Yes. Is he above ordinary folks? Definitely Yes. He is more self-aware, conscious, has literary merits in his writings and more articulate......Then why did he choose to stay in a corner, spiteful and contemptuous? Was he afraid? Yes. But afraid of what? His spite is a veil; a cover to protect himself; to protect his inner sanctity, purity, jaded innocence - above all his individuality, one of the few things he possess.
An individuality which he has grown around a philosophy(of course, its none other than but that of Kant) which takes reason as the only parameter to choose one's actions, and consequently led to him live a life of inaction. By holding reason alone as his standard he swept himself off to endless reflection for he came up with multiple motives to act and the sheer multiplicity drowned him in self-doubts. Action became impossible to him because he was unable to choose the best course of action. If reason alone be applied to the reality, what remains to us is just absurdity, vagueness and death.
I have never really realized the true meaning of these words of Bertrand Russell until I came to know of our underground man:
"Is not faith in reason alone a dangerous creed? No sensible man, however agnostic, has "faith in reason alone." Reason is concerned with matters of fact, some observed, some inferred. The question whether there is a future life and the question whether there is a God concern matters of fact, and the agnostic will hold that they should be investigated in the same way as the question, "Will there be an eclipse of the moon tomorrow?"
But matters of fact alone are not sufficient to determine action, since they do not tell us what ends we ought to pursue. In the realm of ends, we need something other than reason.....a realm which is not that of reason, though it should be in no degree contrary to it. The realm I mean is that of emotion and feeling and desire."
Man rebels as long as he remains conscious. Even our underground man is a rebel. He rebelled by staying in a corner protecting his individuality although it is already ruined by his philosophy he accepted long back."If you pretend, your whole body rebels", they say. Is that not true of him? Although he pretended himself a hero in front of the innocent whore giving long sermons on love, he later felt ashamed, trembled, agonized for them in his loneliness. And Is that not what we do? To think of ourselves as a hero, just because...just because we read books; not because we have understood life, but we understood books.
"...for we are all divorced from life, we are all cripples, every one of us, more or less. We are so divorced from it that we feel at once a sort of loathing for real life, and so cannot bear to be reminded of it. Why, we have come almost to looking upon real life as an effort, almost as hard work, and we are all privately agreed that it is better in books. And why do we fuss and fume sometimes? Why are we perverse and ask for something else? We don’t know what ourselves. It would be the worse for us if our petulant prayers were answered."
To act; to become a hero, man requires not only intelligence but something more - something more like courage, character, insight, sympathy. Not only to act but also to love. He could have fallen in love for the redeemed harlot but for his reasons; reasons he learnt from books alone. Reason is all enough to call a whore, a whore. But it requires something more to call a whore, a human.
Next time, when we choose our philosophy and ideals, lets remember our underground man. Lets remember that we are all human beings with a mind made of conscious, subconscious and unconscious layers. And that our consciousness is just one-third of our mind and the faculty of reason is just one-third of our consciousness.
Let us always remember these lines of Shakespeare(Hamlet),
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio Than are dreamt of in your philosophy"(less)
This is yet another beautiful work by Voltaire. The story is weaved around the life of a virtuous, able, efficient, courageous man named Zadig. Throug...moreThis is yet another beautiful work by Voltaire. The story is weaved around the life of a virtuous, able, efficient, courageous man named Zadig. Throughout the story, Zadig undergoes both fortunes and misfortunes, blessings and curses, meets with both luck and ill-luck, not for what is worst in him; but rather for what is best in him. Tussled between life's highs and lows, which treats all men alike, he learns and unlearns aplenty which would help him to stay happy always, irrespective of his circumstances.
Although, at the out-sketch the story may appear to be another a fairy tale wherein the good men undergoes trial and disaster to be rewarded with the triumph at the end, the witty quotes of Voltaire(almost in every page)which throws a deeper meaning upon every aspect of life makes the reading thoroughly enjoyable and too worthy.
What a fine balance maintained between the theme, style and the plot!! Voltaire had never compromised one for the other. He just carries us off through the story providing pleasure, solace and peace.
Some of my favourite quotes from the book:
* "The most implacable hatreds often have no more important bases"
* "It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one"
* "Always pleasure is no pleasure"
* "The moment when we meet again and the moment when we part apart are the two greatest epochs in life"
* "All is dangerous here below, and all is necessary"
* "There is no evil out of which some good is not born"
* "He has created millions of world, not one of which can resemble another. This immense variety is an attribute of his immense power. There are no two leaves of a tree on earth, or two globes in the infinite fields of the heavens, that are alike; and everything you see on the little atom on which you were born had be, in its appointed place and time, according to the immutable orders of Him who embraces all"
* "There is no chance: all is test, or punishment, or reward, or forseeing"
* "nothing is slower for one who waits, nothing swifter for him who enjoys it"
Above all, this one is the best:
"What is the thing that we receive without giving thanks, enjoy without knowing how, give to others when we don't know where we are, and lose without noticing it?"
And Voltaire answers it as "Life"!
I will come back again to re-read this book whenever I need rest, warmth and hope.
Where the purpose of the book 'The Law' by Mr.Bastiat ends, the necessity of his 'Essays on Political Economy' begins.
Originally published as a pamphl...moreWhere the purpose of the book 'The Law' by Mr.Bastiat ends, the necessity of his 'Essays on Political Economy' begins.
Originally published as a pamphlet, 'The Law' was written to appeal the public at large. It flows with brilliant eloquence, with sentences constructed in active voice, instructing, revealing and lambasting the over-reach of the government in formation of law to use it as a tool of plunder, instead of employing the same to protect the liberty and property of man. He had further explained how the tariffs, subsidies, free public education, taxation etc, provided in the name of poor, is actually being utilized to plunder one group for promoting the interests of the other. However, 'The Law' does not provide any theoretical explanations for Bastiat's pronouncements.
Herein begins the purpose of economical substantiations provided through his essays.
'Essays on Political Economy'of Bastiat(and his other ones), provides the "science of economy which is necessary for the harmony of the free society". The essays "That which is seen and That which is not seen " explicates the detrimental effects of the social policies formulated without considering the effects of "That which is not seen", which is nothing but the 'Opportunity cost' widely applied today by every economist, accountant, business consultant in calculating the return on investment, public or private. What makes Bastiat a genius is not only that he propounds the concept of 'Opportunity cost' in the most accessible manner(for which we are forever indebted to him) but that he also applies the same to every possible governmental policy formulated in the name of the general goodness - be it taxation, public services, credit backed by state, war, and explains the undue consequences of the same which are apt and accurate to this every day.
Personally, I am more impressed by the essays under 'Capital and Interest' where he logically argues on the link between capital and social progress. I wonder how marxism, communism and socialism spread its shadow over this world even after economists like Bastiat proved brilliantly the undeniable role of capital or money for the very progress and harmony of the society.
It should be noted that Bastiat never denies the role of government, as noted by another reviewer in this space. He makes it clear that as long the government spending or policies meets its utility, its role is perfectly justified. But when there is a pilferage, plunder, extravagance or over-reach; when promises exceeds results, he warns of the consequences of higher opportunity cost lost.
As long as the world has the State and citizens; the rulers and the ruled; the government and the governed, Bastiat and his thoughts would stay alive, in rigour.
"THE MORE CORRUPT THE STATE, THE MORE NUMEROUS THE LAWS" - TACITUS
There are certain books which drastically change the way you look at the world. They...more"THE MORE CORRUPT THE STATE, THE MORE NUMEROUS THE LAWS" - TACITUS
There are certain books which drastically change the way you look at the world. They will shook you down, call you a fool at your face, pass a quiver through your spine and give you goose bumps.
This is one such book.
Although written in the 19th century, every word this book utters, holds good even today. It is a strong argument put forth to defend the 'Liberty' of man. The author chides away every attempt to apply the instrument of law to anything other than to promote justice and sharply details out how the law is increasingly "perverted" for the purposes of "legal plunder". He argues that the law, instead of protecting the "personality, liberty and propery" of man, is being framed and organized to promote the interests of few group of individuals or of the state itself by depriving the interests of other group of men, all in the disguise of philanthropy and common good.
What enthralled me more is that every argument, warning, consequence of "legal plunder" is more applicable to my country, India, in its present day. For example: We have the 'National Rural Employment Guarantee Act' which guarantees 100 days of work to every citizen. It is up-roared as a triumph by the media and the ruling party although it contradicts the very logic that more the citizens are dependent on the government for work, more true that the government has failed. We have the 'Right to Education Act' (passed on April 1) but nowhere quality education is provided. The ruling party is vehemently proposing to bring-in "Food Security Act", which could dent our fiscal bills and escalate our debts, to provide food at the lowest cost possible to nearly 65% of the population, when our very system of Public distribution system is itself full of loopholes. The greater the number of laws passed everyday, the bigger is the magnitude of corruption perpetuated by people occupying the higher offices, as it increases the sphere of authority of bureaucrats and parliamentarians.
What are the consequences of such legal plunder? Bastiat answers, "It would efface from everybody’s conscience the distinction between justice and injustice". This is once again true, especially among youngsters, and the number of people engaged in plunder,corruption is increasing day-by-day and the one who stands uncorrupted or holds truth is being constantly rebuked as 'stupid, impotent and unwise' instead of being saluted, honoured and followed.
Another remarkable quality of Bastiat is, unlike Rousseau and his counterparts, he envisions a government which is stable and a society which is progressive, self-correcting and peaceful as against the one which is ever-active to go for revolution to overthrow the administration.
With the extreme clarity of thought and simple language, Bastiat singularly questions everything which we leave unquestioned and take for granted. It certainly gripped me as a fever and made me to 'Think' and 'See'. Its no wonder that it has reached us today, enduring all the test of time.
This is a novella where some of its parts stand out in greatness than the sum total of its parts.
The quotability quotes(I was seriously taking down no...moreThis is a novella where some of its parts stand out in greatness than the sum total of its parts.
The quotability quotes(I was seriously taking down notes of the lines, when I read through the book) were exceedingly thought-provoking and complete, perfect on their own. I fell in love with them instantly.
However, as I read through the novel, I thought the writer has written a book just to present his quotes rather than to present a book where he would have written some quotes. The protagonists were all a supine-lot, cowardly, exceedingly selfish, impulsive and hasty, thorough loggerheads although they talk, think and perceive things like a genius. There in lies the problem with the book. The narrator and the narration does not go hand in hand. The wisdom of the quotes were not reflected in the character(or in the evolution of the character) and the action of the protagonists. The plot is either not there or it lacks seriousness and logic. And above all, the last climax, the revelation of the truth(the surprise, as called by many) was a real gimmick.
Into the whole assemblage or accumulation, what was the mistake of Tony except that one harsh letter, that one line, "If I were you, I’d check things out with Mum – ask her about damage a long way back", that too written down in dire anger and contempt and that too when he was an adolescent? Isn't adolescence is an age where one is not even sure of himself? If the mistakes done by a person has to haunt them until their death, then the concept of atonement, redemption, learning from one's mistakes, evolution of character and rebirth of one's self would be turned folly. Isn't it?
Is Adrian so much a stupid to take up the line told out by Tony at face value without ever giving a thought about the tone, context and words used up in the letter?!! Why should a man check out to know about the 'damage done long way back' by his girl? Which moral scruples say it out that to cross-verify a women's dignity as right? If he doesn't trust her, why not leave her out?!! Is Adrian really a clever one, a man of principles and dignity as the narrator hold out?!! Of all the characters, he was the weakest link and the worst, for he pretended to be a mind of modernity, intelligence and above all courage.
And My dear Veronica, you must be angry and feel contemptuous towards Adrian and your won mother - The Mother - and not towards Tony.
And the equation must be rewritten as, a1 + v + (a2*s)^n = b, where a1 is a very negligible value.
Well, this is how I would like to sum up my review, "I hate the way the English have of not being serious about being serious. I really hate it". (less)
This is just another Dan Brown's thriller with professor Langdon accompanied with a high IQ, attractive and a young lady doctor Sienna(its still intri...moreThis is just another Dan Brown's thriller with professor Langdon accompanied with a high IQ, attractive and a young lady doctor Sienna(its still intriguing how he always get one!!) gushing across places, countries and continents to unravel a puzzle build around Dante's Inferno to save the world in another 48 hrs.
More than the main plot(which every Dan Brown reader is sure to guess it just in the first 100 pages) its the en route dotted with various art, literature and the places(I scooped down about everything in this book thanks to Wiki, along with the story, something which I missed when I was reading Angels and Demons) which actually turns this book delightful and worth-reading.
Otherwise the thrill was not so much gripping(perhaps, because I got older), the repetition of WHO population reports was quite boring(denial!!), the run and run of Langdon for the first 200 pages solving nothing which gives one a faint feeling that the author is filling down pages with no point, and if not for the Dante's mask Langdon could have solved the whole mystery just with internet and Wiki(eg.,Google sunken palace. Case finished).
It would be better if Brown brings us much more thrillers based on art histories than Sci-fi for he is more good at the former than the latter. Worth a read, try accompanying Wiki and am sure one will find not only the book but even its cover filled with mystery and beauty.
P.S: I wish Brown writes a book on India, like on the controversy surrounding Taj Mahal, the connection between atomism and dance of Natraj, kinda fusing Langdon and Fritjof Capra. Come on, Why not?!! (less)
Had I had read this book a few years before, I would have denied and thrashed Ms.Roy as just another an intellectual who enjoys the fruits of Capitali...moreHad I had read this book a few years before, I would have denied and thrashed Ms.Roy as just another an intellectual who enjoys the fruits of Capitalism and democracy yet pricking at its root constantly, for in my youthful fancy I never questioned my belief in free market and the superiority of my own nation. But only with age comes wisdom.
In this wonderfully written essays, Roy fiercely and courageously speaks the truth and voices for the oppressed, be it the adivasis, kashmiris or the citizens killed in the Gujarat 2002 riots. In her ferocity and unscrupulous adherence to the truth nothing goes unscathed and she annihilates the glossy veneer around every of our institution - the media, Supreme court, government and almost everything.
In an uncannily candid prose(which sounds poetic at times), she reminds us of the collusion of the media, politicians, bureaucrats, judiciary - the four arms of our democracy. "The choas is real. But so is the consensus", she says. Has she spared the civil society? Quite not. "If they've(politicians) let us down, its only because we've allowed them to. It could be argued that civil society has failed its leaders as much as leaders have failed the civil society".
Comparing the Nazi with the Hindutva, she sums up that Modi is not all-in-all solution for our nation, "Individual charisma, personality politics, cannot effect radical change"(I wish Modi supporters hear it).
She didn't spare even Ramachandra Guha, the historian who questioned her repeated usage of the word 'fascism' to describe Hindutva in his famous book 'India after Gandhi'.
Roy is that intellectual whose voice is listened to, consistently, in home and abroad, and whom the politicians are much afraid to suppress(that she wasn't jailed or shot dead or deported proves it). However, is Indian democracy really in its infirmity? Is the Indian capitalism all a fallacy? Is Indian media a complete humbug? One cannot call it so. In spite of all the misgivings, atleast 70% of Indian state still remains in peace. There was no other riot in Gujarat after 2002; there is a new generation of youngsters growing up in Kashmir who are beginning to embrace Indian constitution(Read: http://www.tehelka.com/the-valleys-ne...), Supreme Court jailed a corrupt minister in the 2G scam, there is still some ethical Indian media and newspapers. Further, that her voice is heard shows that Indian democracy is still intact and her book is selling evidences that our market is still working.
Yet much remains unchanged, although we are far from being hopeless. Roy is a warning; a whistle blower; an anomaly in the system. She was created by the very system she strives to bring down. But she is important. Important to check ourselves often; to introspect ourselves; to remind us that we are great only when we remain humble. She is a product of our system to fix the system. Love her or hate her, but you cannot ignore her.