The Book Of Indian Essays
- Author: Arvind Krishna Mehrotra
- Publisher: Black Kite
- ISBN: 9789389253634
Indians have been writing prose and poetry in English for the past two centuries. Anthologies of the country's poets and poems have appeared regularly, but it is difficult to come across a wide-ranging historical anthology of the Indian essay in English. This collection starts with Derozio in the 1820s and ends with writers admired for their prose in the twenty-first century.
This pioneering assemblage - of great Indian short prose within a single volume - is equally impressive for its range. The reflective essay, the luminous memoir, the essay disguised as a story, the memorable prefatory article, the newspaper column that transcends its humdrum origins, the gossip piece that oozes literariness, the forgotten flower in the long-dead magazine, the satirical putdown - all these find place here.
A literary anthology also works as an alternative history. This volume resembles a map of middleclass India's social life and aesthetic sensibilities from hybrid perspectives - Indian and Western, feminine and masculine, anti-colonial and antinationalist. To be found in it are diverse characters in scattered locations - including Victorian Calcutta, modern America, village Egypt, elevated Oxford, feudal Kerala, cosmopolitan Mumbai, bureaucratic Delhi, Buddhist Benares, Civil Lines Allahabad, and small-town India.
The essays amuse, surprise, edify. The feelings and ideas in them provoke thought, compassion, and a sense of the wonder that was India.