Monday, December 26, 2005

apolitical and almost global in its cultural survey

Categorising the colonisers: A Raj Collection; edited by Saros Cowasjee, OUP, 2005 Lata Ramaswamy A collection of four novels reflects life as it was during the ‘Raj’ when the British and French ruled over the country. Deccan Herald » Book Reviews » Sunday, July 17, 2005
Critiquing the critics of India, Sri Aurobindo divided them into three basic categories–the sympathetic, the dispassionate and the hostile. The four novels in A Raj Collection give the reader a sample of each of the three kinds of mindsets identified by Sri Aurobindo. This, coupled with the fact that the selection covers the period from 1857 to the emergence of Independent India, makes it a valuable volume for anyone engaged in trying to understand how the Raj came about, what it was in them and us that made it possible, and how it finally had to come to an end.
The most fascinating of the four novels is Christine Weston’s Indigo. Its canvas is larger than that of the other three because it includes the French in India, in the form of Madame St Remy who has made India her home. What is most relevant to us at this time in this novel is the formulation of a consciousness that is apolitical and almost global in its cultural survey–a formulation that comes about through the interplay between Jacques, the son of Madame St Remy, his friend Hardyal and Hardyal’s father, Ganpat Rai.

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