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Vikram Seth

Vikram Seth is the author of a travel book, From Heaven Lake: Travels through Sinkiang and Tibet, a book of poems, The Humble Administrator’s Garden, and a novel in verse, The Golden Gate. His essay in this issue is based on the Dawson Scott Memorial Lecture which he delivered in Cambridge on PEN Writers’ Day, 9 April 1988.

Poem: ‘Walk’

Vikram Seth, 8 February 1990

I walked last night with my old friend Past the old house where we first met, Past each known bush and each known bend. The moon shone, and the path was wet.

No one passed by us as we strolled At our sad ease. Though hand in hand We did not speak. Our hands grew cold, Yet we walked on as we had planned.

We did not deal in words or tears. At the dead light we did not rage. What change had...

Forms and Inspirations

Vikram Seth, 29 September 1988

The first writing I did – apart from school essays and articles for the school paper – was some poems I wrote when I was unhappily lovestruck at University. They were in very free measures, and, indeed, very free syntax. I had read enough modern poetry by then to convince myself that rhyme and metre were passé, and that, anyway, the fierce and miserable beating of my heart was not to be contained by what Frost, I believe, called, with seeming disparagement, ‘rhymey-dimey stuff’. So, unrhymed and unmetered it all poured out, and since I had no poetic control to replace rhyme and metre, most of it was embarrassingly bad. Luckily I never showed it to anyone at that stage, let alone to its onlie begetter. I was looking through some of my papers in a trunk the other day when I came across these poems, and they made me cringe.’

Dreaming of Vikram Seth

Nicholas Spice, 29 April 1999

I met Vikram Seth by chance, he met me by mistake. He sat down next to me at an occasion he had never meant to attend. It was 6.45 p.m. on Thursday 25 March at the Royal Society of Literature in...

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Indian Summa

John Lanchester, 22 April 1993

Forests have been slain, not only in the manufacture of A Suitable Boy, but in the production of its review coverage. An unusual amount of the publicity has been statistical, with journalists...

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Games-Playing

Patrick Parrinder, 7 August 1986

Why not a novel in verse? It’s all a question of expectations, and in The Golden Gate the Indian-born poet Vikram Seth single-handedly overturns most readers’ expectations about what...

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