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England’s Chum

John Bayley, 5 May 1988

The Hand, Great Anarch! India 1921-1952 
by Nirad Chaudhuri.
Chatto, 979 pp., £25, November 1987, 0 7011 2476 8
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The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian 
by Nirad Chaudhuri.
Hogarth, 506 pp., £7.95, November 1987, 0 7012 0800 7
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... goes with power, except in terms of making people up for the TV cameras? In his voluminous memoirs Nirad Chaudhuri gives among many other things a marvellous description of the years he worked for Sarat Bose, barrister, Bengali and Congress politician, elder brother of Subhas Chandra Bose, who led the Indian National Army on the Japanese side in World War ...

Other Eden

Amit Chaudhuri, 15 September 1988

Tigers, Durbars and Kings: Fanny Eden’s Indian Journals 1837-1838 
edited by Janet Dunbar.
Murray, 202 pp., £13.95, April 1988, 0 7195 4440 8
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... this is something that most colonial writers have experienced, and some, such as V.S. Naipaul and Nirad Chaudhuri, have written about vividly. The experience of the transformation of literature into reality can be as magical and mysterious as the transformation of reality into literature. At the same time, there is a scepticism, a sardonic ...

A Bottle of Ink, a Pen and a Blotter

Amit Chaudhuri: R.K. Narayan, 9 August 2001

... passing over the Sarayu Bridge.’ Of course, the academy took its own revenge on these writers. Nirad Chaudhuri remarks how, in the early decades of the 20th century, the Bengali paper at Calcutta University quoted passages from Tagore and instructed examinees to render them into ‘chaste Bengali’. Narayan has been largely neglected in post-colonial ...

Making faces

Philip Horne, 9 May 1991

The Grimace 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Grafton, 256 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 246 13770 3
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Playing the game 
by Ian Buruma.
Cape, 234 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 224 02758 1
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The Music of Chance 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 217 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 9780571161577
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... great exponents of the value of the British vision are fine old men from India and the Caribbean, Nirad Chaudhuri and C.L.R. James, both of whom appear in affectionate portraits here (as Nayan Dasgupta and K.C. Lewis). The narrator visits ‘Lewis’ in Brixton. He has ‘the cultivated accent of an English gentleman’, and speaks for the Caribbean ...

Where Does He Come From?

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: Placing V.S. Naipaul, 1 November 2007

A Writer’s People: Ways of Looking and Feeling 
by V.S. Naipaul.
Picador, 193 pp., £16.99, September 2007, 978 0 330 48524 1
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... is predictable that the only writer from the 20th century he finds worth discussing at length is Nirad Chaudhuri, whose Autobiography of an Unknown Indian is carefully dissected and appreciated for its largely positive evaluation of the British Empire. Again, the possibility that Chaudhuri and his Anglophilia might be ...

A feather! A very feather upon the face!

Amit Chaudhuri: India before Kipling, 6 January 2000

The Unforgiving Minute 
by Harry Ricketts.
Chatto, 434 pp., £25, January 1999, 0 7011 3744 4
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... fullness and magic in his work about India: middle-class Indians, like those Kipling shut out (Nirad Chaudhuri, for example, who thought Kipling was the greatest writer about India in the English language), have also found a home in his fiction. Yet it would be a mistake to conclude that the child’s-eye view of much of Kipling’s Indian fiction ...

In the Waiting-Room of History

Amit Chaudhuri: ‘First in Europe, then elsewhere’, 24 June 2004

Provincialising Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference 
by Dipesh Chakrabarty.
Princeton, 320 pp., £42.95, October 2000, 0 691 04908 4
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... Flânerie is ‘dawdling’, and adda a waste of time which, at least according to one writer, Nirad C. Chaudhuri, ‘virtually killed family life’. Neither flânerie nor adda is a purely physical or mental activity; both are reconfigurings of urban space. The flâneur, as Benjamin saw him, walked about the Parisian ...

The Last Englishman to Rule India

Ashis Nandy: Jawaharlal Nehru, 21 May 1998

Nehru: A Tryst with Destiny 
by Stanley Wolpert.
Oxford, 546 pp., £25, January 1997, 0 19 510073 5
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... a few pages on these issues, but they are almost invariably shallow or casual. I remember Nirad C. Chaudhuri once complaining in a review of Sarvepalli Gopal’s three-volume biography that Nehru’s childhood and early years had been dismissed in fewer than ten pages. Gopal was not amused. Yet, Nehru’s ...

After Nehru

Perry Anderson, 2 August 2012

... little reason to fear a debate others decline. ‘About 25 words in an inscription of Asoka,’ Nirad Chaudhuri once observed, ‘have succeeded in almost wholly suppressing the thousands in the rest of the epigraphy and the whole of Sanskrit literature which bear testimony to the incorrigible militarism of the Hindus’ – or, more accurately, their ...

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