THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN UNKNOWN INDIAN by Nirad C. Chaudhuri

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN UNKNOWN INDIAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Originally published in England in 1951 and reissued there in 1987 for Chaudhuri's 90th-birthday festivities, this first volume of the memoirs of one of India's most celebrated writers covers his childhood and formative years (the sequel, Thy Hand, Great Anarch!, appeared here last year). In encyclopedic detail, Chaudhuri recounts the day-to-day traditions, ceremonies, and events of the East Bengal (now Bangladesh) villages of his childhood, and of his student days in Calcutta. Encouraged to acquire knowlege by his enlightened upper-class Hindu parents, he devoured the great works of the Indian and European traditions, gaining familiarity with both cultures' history, philosophy, statecraft, military strategy, science, and literature. In his youth, he seesawed between calls (revolutionary and Gandhian) for an independent India and a slowly strengthening belief that gradually moving toward self-determination would better serve his country. He concludes here with an essay on Indian history in which he presciently theorizes that Indian culture will increasingly synthesize Western and Oriental traditions under the aegis--not of the British--but of the US and, eventually, an increasingly united Europe. Chaudhuri's archaic, often circumlocutory, prose and his penchant for untranslated Bengali and French expressions make this a tough read. For those interested in the huge subcontinent, though, the effort is a worthy one.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 1989
ISBN: 094032282X
Publisher: Addison-Wesley